Māori land trusts

A trust is a group of people nominated by landowners/ shareholders to manage their land block or shares. In the Māori Land Court a trust is known as a management structure. Under Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993, there are five types of trusts.

1. Ahu whenua trust

This is the most common Māori land trust. The purpose of an Ahu whenua trust is to promote the use and administration of the land in the interest of the landowners.  These trusts are often used for commercial purposes. This is a land management trust and involves whole blocks of land.

2. Whenua topu trust

This is an iwi or hapū based trust.  It is designed to facilitate the use and administration of the land in the interest of the iwi or hapū.  This type of trust is used for receiving Crown land as part of any settlement. This is a land management trust and involves whole blocks of land.

3. Whānau trust

This is a whānau oriented trust. It allows the whānau to bring together their Māori land interests for the benefit of the whānau and their descendants. This is a share management trust and relates primarily to specified shares in land.

4. Putea trust

A putea trust allows the landowners of small and uneconomical interests to pool their interests together. This is a share management trust and relates primarily to specified shares in land.

5. Kai tiaki trust

A Kai tiaki trust relates solely to an individual who is a minor or has a disability and is unable to manage their affairs. This trust can include all of an individual’s assets.