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Ways we work with trusts

The Māori Trustee can be appointed by the Māori Land Court to carry out specific roles for an Ahu whenua trust.  

She can be appointed by the Māori Land Court to carry out the following roles for an Ahu whenua trust (Māori Land Trust):

  • Responsible Trustee
  • Custodian Trustee

The most popular form of trust established by the Māori Land Court is the Ahu whenua trust. These trusts are established to promote and facilitate the use and administration of the land in the interests of the persons beneficially entitled to the land. 

The persons beneficially entitled are the owners of the land and the Māori Land Court keeps an official record of who they are. 

The Māori Trustee also provides agency services for Māori Land Trusts. 

What do these roles do?

Responsible Trustee

Where the Māori Trustee is appointed as responsible trustee for your trust, we will work with owners on behalf of the Māori Trustee to ensure the terms of the trust order are being met. 

The trust order may include specific clauses about holding owner hui, organising distributions of any income earned by the trust, preparing trust review applications and leasing property. 

If your whenua is administered by Te Tumu Paeroa as responsible trustee, as an owner you will have access to a range of services we provide, including My Whenua.

Responsible Trustees can receive advice from advisory trustees. If your trust has advisory trustees appointed we will work with them to ensure the whenua is protected and enhanced. 

Provided the Māori Land Court is satisfied that there is support from owners, the Māori Trustee can be replaced with other responsible trustees. Find out more about appointing or changing trustees.  

Find out more about the role of a responsible trustee here.

Custodian Trustee

The responsible trustee or owners of an Ahu Whenua Trust may want the Māori Trustee to take a custodian role for their trust property.

If the Māori Trustee has been appointed custodian trustee and the responsible trustees would like the Māori Trustee to provide additional services to the trust, these would need to be agreed and set out in an agency services agreement which is commonly referred to as a Service Level Agreement (SLA).

Te Ture Whenua Māori Trustee Act 1993 sets out a very limited role for a custodian trustee. Importantly, the custodian trustee has no governance role or responsibilities for the trust.

The owners and responsible trustee can apply to the Māori Land Court to terminate the custodian trusteeship if they no longer wish to have a custodian trustee.

Find out more about the role of a custodian trustee here.

Agent 

The responsible trustees of a trust and the Māori Trustee can agree for the Māori Trustee to provide agency services to support the administration of the trust.

These services are agreed and set out in an agency services agreement which is commonly referred to as a Service Level Agreement (SLA).

Where the Māori Trustee is acting as agent, she has no governance role or responsibilities for the trust.

Some, but not all, of the services we provide when the Māori Trustee is responsible trustee are available as agency services. If you are interested in learning more about agency services we commonly provide for Māori Land Trusts, please contact us.

The agency services agreement will set out how the agreement can be terminated by the responsible trustees and the Māori Trustee.

Other services

Court appointed agent for owners

Sometimes owners of whenua will not have established an Ahu whenua trust but need help to carry out some tasks for the whenua. 

The Māori Land Court can appoint us to carry out limited services on behalf of the owners and these are set out in a court order known as an Agency Order. The Court will commonly convene a meeting of owners to discuss our appointment. If this is something that you're interested in for your whenua, contact the Māori Land Court to discuss.

Statutory Trustee

The Māori Trustee has been given the responsibility to carry out trustee roles under some Acts of Parliament.

Generally the scope of the terms on which the Māori Trustee can carry out these roles is set out in the statute itself. The Māori Reserved Land Act 1955 is one example of this.