Maori Land

Māori land is defined by s129 of Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993. In short, the status of Māori land is as follows: 

  • Māori customary land - land held by Māori in accordance with tikanga Māori. It has not been transferred into freehold title by the Māori Land Court, nor ceded to the Crown 

  • Māori freehold land - land where the ownership has been determined by the Māori Land Court by freehold order 

  • General land owned by Māori (other than freehold) - land owned by five or more people and where the majority of owners are Māori 

  • Crown land reserved for Māori - land set aside by the Crown for the use and benefit of Māori. 

Defining Māori land is complex and technical in some instances. If there is uncertainty about whether the land is Māori land or not, check with the Māori Land Court 

The ownership of Māori freehold land is confirmed by the Māori Land Court and granted title by the Crown. Section 123(1) of Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993 states that orders affecting title to Māori freehold land must be registered against the title to that land under the Land Transfer Act 1952 or the Deeds Registration Act 1908. In other words, the Registrar of the Māori Land Court can present orders for the purpose of registration in the Land Title System, which is the process by which a title is issued for land. Before Te Ture Whenua Māori Act, it was not compulsory for orders made by the Māori Land Court to be registered with LINZ and therefore the LINZ record may not be complete.