Succession is when interests or shares in whenua Māori are passed on to whānau after the death of a land owner. Succession is a formal process managed through the Māori Land Court. The Court processes more than 2,000 succession applications each year.
Law changes introduced by Te Ture Whenua Māori (Succession, Dispute Resolution, and Related Matters) Amendment Act 2020 update Te Ture Whenu Māori Act 1993 to better support whānau to succeed to their land.
Te Ture Whenua Māori Act has been changed in the following areas. These changes come into force on Waitangi Day, 6 February 2021:
- Historically all succession applications needed to be heard in court. The Act now enables simple and uncontested succession applications to be dealt with by a Māori Land Court registrar, instead of going through a full court hearing process.
- Historically, interests in land only passed to the deceased owner’s descendants when their spouse or partner (who does not whakapapa to the land) died, entered a new relationship or surrendered the interests. The Act has been updated to enable descendant’s immediate succession to their Māori land interests upon the death of a land owner. The surviving spouse or partner will not be entitled to participate in decision-making about the land but will be entitled to a lifetime right to income from the land as well as the right to occupy a family home on the land.
- The Act now clarifies that the tikanga of the relevant iwi or hapū will determine whether whāngai are eligible to succeed to a land interest. Where the relevant tikanga does not recognise a relationship of descent, the court can give a whāngai the right to receive income or grants from the land right to occupy the family home.
- Visit the legislation website to understand more about the new amendments related to succession.
- Go back to understand the other law changes related to whenua Māori.
- Visit the Māori Land Court website for more about the Court’s processes.