Trusts are formed to act for land owners

Trusts are formed to manage Māori land or assets on behalf of owners. They are directed by a document called a trust order.

Trusts are directed by a trust order

How trusts are run is determined by trust law and (for Māori land) by Te Ture Whenua Māori Act. A document called a trust order (also called a trust deed) outlines specific guidelines for that trust, including:

  • the name of the trust
  • the purpose of the trust
  • who should manage the trust
  • the rules and obligations of the trust
  • who should benefit from the trust (usually referred to as the “beneficiaries” or “beneficial owners”).

Types of trusts we work with

Te Ture Whenua Māori Act establishes five types of trusts aimed at making the administration and management of Māori land easier. We generally deal with the following two types:

Ahu Whenua trusts

The purpose of these trusts is to manage the land itself for the benefit of the owners. This kind of trust allows flexibility to consider alternative uses for the land, such as commercial use. Read about what Ahu Whenua trustees do.

Whānau trusts

These trusts combine and manage the interests (shares) of a group of owners into one ownership or holding. They don't manage the land, but the shares in the land – and make decisions about what to do with income from the shareholdings, according to the trust order.

For more information on different types of trusts and setting them up, consult the Māori Land Court website.