Facts About Estates and Wills Concerning Māori Land

The Te Ture Whenua Māori Act puts limitations on the right Māori land inheritor stated on the Will. Moreover, this act also determines who is permitted to acquire land interests if a person passes intestate or without a Will. In either of these cases, the inheritor must file an application to the Māori Land court with the help of their Māori land lawyer.

The Rightful Māori Land Inheritor

The Māori landowner may give their land interests by Will to any of the following subjects:

  • Whāngai of the deceased
  • Remoter and children issue
  • Anyone entitled to acquire it if the owner dies intestate
  • Any blood-related members who are also a part of the hapū connected to the land
  • Other owners of said land who are also a part of the hapū connected to the land
  • Trustees of the people mentioned in the points herewith.

A deceased owner can also give their Māori land life interest to their de facto partner, spouse, or civil union partner. This life interest is valid until they die, hands over the interest in writing, or enters another de facto relationship, civil union or marriage. As soon as their interests expire, the land then returns to the beneficiaries listed in the Will as long as they belong to one of the categories referred to the points listed above.

Any arrangement in a Will that intends to leave the land to individuals that do not belong to specific categories will be dealt null and void. This is also the case for a surviving de facto partner, civil union partner and spouse. The Court will manage that interest as if the owner died intestate.

To prevent the whanau from experiencing further suffering after their loved one passes, it would be better for the owners to update their Will constantly.