Māori Land Court


Pou hihiri
Pou rarama
Tēnā te pou
Te pou herenga tangata
Te pou herenga whenua
Te pou ka toko
Te pou ka hiki
Te pou ka eke tū tārewa ki ngā rangi tāwhaowhao

Ūtaina atu ngā kōrero nei
Mā te pūreirei tōngakengake
ki te whakahaumanu i te pou
o taku whare kōrero

Tōtoro te pūhina o te ata hāpara
o te ata kura
o te ata tū
Ki ngā taiwhenua
ki ngā papa kāinga
ki te one e karapinepine tonu i a tātou
Kia whakataukihia
“Whatungarongaro te tangata, toitū te whenua”

Ko te whakahu tenei a Te Kooti Whenua Māori
Ū te pou, māia te pou
Hui te mārama, hui te ora
Hui ē, Tāiki e!

The Māori Land Court (Te Kooti Whenua Māori) and the Māori Appellate Court (Te Kooti Pira Māori) are continued under Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993. The Māori Land Court has been in existence in one form or another since the passing of the Native Lands Act 1862 and the Māori Appellate Court since 1894.

The Māori Land Court has jurisdiction to hear matters relating to Māori land including successions, title improvements, Māori land sales, and the administration of Māori land trusts and Incorporations. It also has jurisdiction to hear cases under the Māori Fisheries Act 2004, the Māori Commercial Aquaculture Claims Settlement Act 2004 and a number of other statutes.

As at September 2009, there was approximately 1.47 million hectares of Māori land (including customary land) which comprises less than five percent of land in New Zealand. While the total area of Māori land is small, the Court and its administration recognises the special bond that Māori people have with this land. Thus the maintenance and preservation of the Court’s record (containing as it does invaluable customary information including whakapapa or genealogy) remains a fundamental feature of the work of the Court.

The conduct of a hearing of the Māori Land Court is determined by the judge hearing the case, and he/she may apply any rules of marae kawa as the judge considers appropriate. In practice that means that nearly all Court hearings commence and conclude with a karakia (prayer) and mihi whakatau (greetings). Te Reo Māori (the Māori language) is often used in Court. Many of the cases heard in the Māori Land Court involve complex issues of law and fact. On some occasions they may also involve tikanga or customary concepts. Depending on the nature of the application before the Court, a judge may require expert evidence to be called in such cases.

The Māori Land Court has a Chief Judge and a Deputy Chief Judge as well as resident judges in most Māori Land Court districts.

The Ministry of Justice administers the Māori Land Court and Te Puni Kōkiri (the Ministry of Māori Development) deals with legislative and regulatory matters.

Key services

The business of the Māori Land Court includes:

  • To administer and apply Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993 and other relevant legislation;
  • To maintain the records of title and ownership information of Māori land;
  • To make available Māori land information held by the Māori Land Court;
  • To facilitate Māori land administration and development through the professional delivery of services to Māori land owners, their whānau or hapū.

Related agencies and organisations

The Waitangi Tribunal

Office of Treaty Settlements

The Office of the Māori Trustee

Te Puni Kōkiri (Ministry of Māori Development)