Land owners nominate trustees and file an application with the Māori Land Court, who approve or decline the appointment. Every trust must have at least one responsible trustee to manage the trust on behalf of the owners. A responsible trustee can be:
- an individual
- the Māori Trustee (Te Tumu Paeroa)
- a Māori trust board or incorporation
- a Public Trust or trustee company.
If there is a trustee dispute, the Māori Land Court may step in and directly appoint a responsible trustee or agent to restore order.
Land owners can choose to appoint new trustees, remove trustees or make changes to the trust order. The process goes like this:
- Proposed changes have to be discussed and agreed upon in a meeting of all owners
- Land owners must then apply to the Māori Land Court for the changes to be legally approved
If an owner believes a trustee is failing in their duty, they can ask the Māori Land Court to review the management of the trust. The trustee may be asked to appear for questioning, and may be removed from the trust.