Part 3: Client Service Performance of the Māori Land Court Unit

Māori Land Administration: Client Service Performance of the Māori Land Court Unit and the Māori Trustee.


We examined the client service provided to Māori Land owners by the Māori Land Court Unit, through either the provision of information or the processing of applications. In our examination, we applied our expectations of good client service (see paragraph 1.4 on page 19). The audit did not evaluate the support provided to the judiciary. Our discussion of the judiciary considers only how judicial activities influence client service outcomes.

In this part we:

Overview of the Māori Land Court and the Māori Land Court Unit

The Māori Land Court

The Māori Land Court is a significant institution for Māori Land owners as it hears matters relating to Māori Land. It is the only Māori Court, and it is unique in the way it operates. For example, a hearing may be conducted in te reo Māori, and it may begin and end with a karakia.

The Court has a Chief Judge and a Deputy Chief Judge, as well as seven Judges – one for each Māori Land Court registry (see paragraph 3.8). The Judges are constitutionally independent and are not employees or agents of the Ministry. The Māori Land Court sits regularly at venues throughout New Zealand.16

Administration of the Māori Land Court was transferred from the Department of Māori Affairs to the Department of Justice during restructuring of the departments in 1989. From 1 July 1993, the Department for Courts had responsibility for administration of the Māori Land Court. On 1 October 2003, the Department for Courts was merged back into the Ministry.

Structure of the Māori Land Court Unit

The Māori Land Court Unit provides administrative support for the Māori Land Court and its judiciary, and provides services to Māori Land owners, particularly information and advisory services relating to Māori Land. In this regard, the Ministry received an appropriation through Output Class D6: Māori Land, Information and Case Management, of $12.749 million (GST-inclusive) for 2003-04 under Vote Courts.

The Māori Land Court Unit is part of the Ministry’s Special Jurisdictions Group – which also includes administrative units for the Waitangi Tribunal, the Environment Court, and Tribunals. The structure of the Māori Land Court Unit within the Ministry is shown in Figure 4 on the next page.

Figure 4
Structure of the Māori Land Court Unit within the Ministry of Justice

Figure 4.

The Māori Land Court Unit has about 135 staff, seven registries, two dedicated Māori Land Information Offices, and a Head Office in Wellington (which also serves as an Information Office). Māori Land Court registries and offices are located in three regions. Region 1 consists of Taitokerau and Waikato-Maniapoto, Region 2 consists of Waiariki and Aotea, and Region 3 consists of Tairāwhiti, Takitimu, and Te Waipounamu. Figure 4 shows which registries cover these regions.

Role and Functions of the Māori Land Court Unit

As discussed in paragraphs 2.9-2.10 on pages 24-25, the preamble to Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993 serves as a guiding philosophy behind the operations of the Māori Land Court Unit.

In line with this philosophy, the functions of the Māori Land Court Unit are to:

  • promote the management of Māori Land by its owners by maintaining the records of title and ownership information of Māori Land;
  • service the Māori Land Court and related tribunals (including the judiciary);
  • provide land information from sources such as the Minute Books held in the Māori Land Court’s registries;
  • contribute to the administration of Māori Land; and
  • preserve Māori Land as taonga Māori.

The Māori Land Court registries are repositories for extensive information about Māori Land. Information held by the registries includes land title and ownership records, management structure details and records, and historical information about judicial decisions and orders. Māori particularly view the Māori Land Court’s Minute Books of Court hearings as treasures, because they hold whakapapa details stretching back several generations. As an indication of the extent of public interest in accessing this information, in the year ended 30 June 2003, there were 30,326 hits on the Court’s web site and 1125 enquiries lodged with Court offices through the web site.

Scoping Report (1995) on the Future Development of the Māori Land Court Unit

In 1995 the former Department of Justice commissioned independent consultants to provide a scoping report on the future development of the Māori Land Court Unit. The purpose of the report was to examine the key processes of the Unit and to assess the Unit’s ability to deliver an effective and efficient service to the clients of the Māori Land Court.

The report identified areas where the Unit’s services fell short of a modern clientfocused organisation and the extensive scale of change required to improve service provision. The report found that:

  • The Māori Land Court Unit had virtually no client service focus. There was no survey of client service needs, or analysis of service gaps, or setting of – or drive to achieve – client-defined needs.
  • Processes were driven mostly by the administrative needs of the Unit rather than any client service goals.
  • The act and manner of completing a procedure had become the basis of performance rather than the completion of an end-to-end client service.
  • Staff had responsibility for completing a single part of the process, rather than taking an application through the whole process.
  • There was a lack of consistency in operational systems and procedures throughout the network of Māori Land Court registries.
  • There was a lack of informal and formal contact with other parties in the Māori Land sector.

What Changes Has the Māori Land Court Unit Made Since 1995, and Have the Changes Worked?

We considered four areas of significant change made by the Māori Land Court Unit as a result of the 1995 report:

  • introduction of strategic planning;
  • appointment of Advisory Officers;
  • introduction of the Māori Land Information System (MLIS); and
  • adoption of case management.

It was useful for us to examine the changes made in these four areas as they indicate the Māori Land Court Unit’s response to the 1995 report in terms of our expectations of client service (see paragraph 1.4 on page 19). The focus on strategic planning indicates the goal of client service and an understanding of clients and their needs. The appointment of Advisory Officers indicates the Unit’s understanding of clients’ needs and the provision of access to services, while the introduction of the MLIS and the move to case management has enabled the Unit to measure its client service performance.

Introduction of Strategic Planning in the Māori Land Court Unit

As a result of the 1995 report, the Māori Land Court Unit recognised the need to strategically improve co-ordination among registries by adopting a national approach.

The Unit’s drive for change is set out in its Strategic Plan 1 January 2001 – 31 December 2002. This Plan is regularly reviewed, and Regional Directors are required to report progress against the plan on a monthly basis. The Plan refers to a variety of client service topics including:

  • listings of key expectations by clients – both Māori Land owners and the Government;
  • clear statements of the Māori Land Court Unit’s eight strategic issues17, six of which have client service as a driver; and
  • deadlines for implementing change.

The Māori Land Court Unit’s strategic business planning is supported by client surveys undertaken in 2000 and 2002, which provide the Unit with an understanding of clients’ needs. Specifically, the surveys looked at the information needs of Māori Land owners, with 1197 responses received from 6490 survey forms distributed. Some consistent themes emerged from the survey responses, such as a perceived loss of staff expertise on more unusual applications, and a lack of timeliness when responding to client requests for information.

The Māori Land Court Unit has noted the timeliness comments and is addressing the issue through the new Timeliness Report, and the Operational Resource Model (ORM) that is currently being created.

The Timeliness Report – released in December 2003 – identifies the average time taken to complete each step in processing the various types of application that are filed in the Māori Land Court. The average time taken can be identified at a national, registry, team, and individual level. The Timeliness Report also assists in identifying trends in workloads from year to year, from district to district, and from team to team, as well as categorising applications by type.

The ORM will track the time taken to process specific application types and provide a unit cost for the various services that the Māori Land Court Unit is funded for. The data will then be compared with present staff levels. The Unit hopes that this information will identify whether resources should be relocated or whether additional resources are required. The ORM will also confirm whether best practices are being followed or whether modified practices are needed to meet client demand. The ORM is due to be completed before the preparation of budgets for the 2004-05 financial year.

Monitoring Implementation of Tasks

The Māori Land Court Unit closely monitors progress in implementing tasks that are identified in the strategic business plan. Responsibility is assigned to one of the Unit’s Regional Directors (who are also Registrars of the Māori Land Court) who regularly report to the Chief Registrar on what has been completed and what further action is required.

For an organisation of only 135 staff, and with a small management team, the Māori Land Court Unit has set a challenging number of goals.18 However, our audit found that the Unit was making progress towards meeting its goals – for example, the development of the ORM.

Appointment of Advisory Officers

To further address client service issues identified by the 1995 report, the Māori Land Court Unit implemented a number of new initiatives19, including the formation of an Advisory Service in 2000. Introduced as part of the “New Initiatives” proposal that was presented to Cabinet by the former Department for Courts, the Advisory Service was designed in response to the complexities of Māori Land legislation and aimed to:

  • provide information on procedural matters to clarify requirements to be met by Māori Land Court clients in preparation for any hearing;
  • make the Māori Land Court more user-friendly for clients by increasing their awareness of what might be required of them as participants in the Court process;
  • eliminate or reduce the need for costly advice from lawyers on procedural and non-legal matters; and
  • encourage an efficient and expedient use of the Māori Land Court and the services provided by the Māori Land Court Unit.

Thirteen Advisory Officer positions were created to deliver the Advisory Service. While it was intended that the service would be mobile, the Māori Land Court Unit (through the Department for Courts) sought funding to equip only 4 of the 13 Advisory Officers with a vehicle and a laptop computer. The other 9 Advisory Officers were to operate at Māori Land Court registries.

The role of an Advisory Officer is to increase the ability of Māori Land owners to access the services provided by the Māori Land Court Unit. Advisory Officers fulfil this role by visiting Māori Land owners in their home areas, participating in hui, and co-ordinating information workshops and clinics. The advice of an Advisory Officer does not extend to legal or economic matters, although the officers are at times asked questions of this nature.

Evaluating the Impact of the Advisory Service

In 2002, the former Department for Courts commissioned a Wellington consultancy firm with experience in Māori Land issues to undertake an evaluation of the Advisory Service. At the time, the Advisory Service had been operating for 18 months. Although noting that insufficient time had passed to accurately evaluate the effect of the Advisory Service, the consultant’s report concluded that formation of the Advisory Service had led to tangible benefits being achieved for and among Māori Land owners. Māori Land owners who were surveyed said that a benefit of using the Advisory Service was a subsequent decrease in costs to access the Māori Land Court and to use the Māori Land Court Unit’s services.

The Advisory Service has been a valuable addition to the Māori Land Court Unit and the wider Māori Land sector – an observation confirmed by people we spoke to, including Māori Land Court Unit staff, Māori Land Court Judges, and Māori Land owners. For example, we noted that some Judges request that Advisory Officers attend meetings of owners in order to provide procedural advice and to act as a direct liaison for owners. In many instances, Advisory Officers have been expected by applicants to perform an advocacy role but, in their position as officers of the Court, there are limits to the advice and support that they can properly provide.

The 2002 consultant’s report identified an issue of under-resourcing of the Advisory Service, which in our view is a risk to client service. While all Advisory Officers were not intended to be mobile (that is, each equipped with a vehicle and a laptop computer able to access the Māori Land Court Unit’s electronic records system from the field), demand from clients has seen all of them act in a mobile role even though not all are equipped to be mobile.

Performance measures for Advisory Officers are based on the number of applications generated and the number of meetings held by each Advisory Officer. An Advisory Officer can provide a client with information and application forms, but it is up to the client to choose whether or not to make an application to the Māori Land Court. In our view, measuring the number of applications that are generated does not take into account the actual work carried out by the Advisory Officers, including two important aspects of their work:

  • improving the quality of applications submitted by Māori Land owners, by imparting greater understanding of the options available; and
  • reducing the need for Māori Land owners to attend Court in some cases, by informal mediation or by facilitating the resolution of disputes.

A further useful function that Advisory Officers fulfil outside their formal role is as the “face” of the Government in remote areas. Advisory Officers told us that Māori Land owners often ask them questions relating to other government agencies, such as the Inland Revenue Department. This was because the Advisory Officer was the only person linked to government services that they knew who visited the area. If the Advisory Officer could not answer the query on the spot, they often used their networks with colleagues in other agencies to quickly obtain the necessary information for the client.

We recommend that the Māori Land Court Unit –
1. Review whether the current Advisory Officer role aligns with the role initially defined for the Advisory Service by the former Department for Courts.
2. Review whether the current Advisory Officer role adequately serves the needs of Māori Land owners.

We also recommend that –
3. If that review identifies a new role for Advisory Officers, the Māori Land Court Unit ensure that appropriate training and equipment is available to enable Advisory Officers to fulfil the new role.
4. Regardless of the review’s outcome, the Māori Land Court Unit revise the performance measures for Advisory Officers.

Introduction of the Māori Land Information System

Before the electronic database known as the Māori Land Information System (MLIS) was introduced, most of the Māori Land Court Unit’s work was paperbased, and information about Māori Land could not be easily transferred from one registry to another. This often meant that research20 could only be undertaken in the region where the records were held. For example, a Whangārei block of land could not be researched from Wellington. This caused issues for client service. Using the MLIS, research can be carried out from any registry, and the time taken to complete a basic land title report has been reduced from 40 minutes to less than one minute.

The Māori Land Court Unit is mindful of the balance required between providing access to information stored on the MLIS and protecting information (particularly regarding whakapapa) that some Māori wish to remain confidential. For example, the Māori Land Court Unit has delayed the introduction of internet access to the MLIS until consultation has been completed with Māori about what content should be available on-line.

Another useful feature of the MLIS is the ability to track the workloads of case managers and to provide detailed reporting on the Māori Land Court Unit’s performance. The Unit has set time parameters for each step of the application process, which the MLIS can automatically monitor. If a case manager is late in progressing an application to the next step, then the case is highlighted in red in their electronic “work basket”.

The MLIS also has an impressive ability to provide reports about the processing of applications. The system allows the Chief Registrar to identify the status of every application, who is responsible for progressing the application, and who is responsible for any delay in the process. This information is categorised by the registry and the case manager so that, if the Māori Land Court Unit is responsible for a delay, it can be quickly addressed.

Adoption of Case Management in Māori Land Court Registries

At the same time that the MLIS was introduced, the Māori Land Court Unit adopted a case management system.21 Previously, staff had been involved only in single steps in the administrative process, rather than taking responsibility for processing an application from the initial stages to completion. Case management encourages staff to understand the system as a whole and recognises the effect of time delays at different stages of the process.

The introduction of case management has led to a more team-focused approach within the Unit. This approach should help the Unit to integrate what it learns from the quality-based reporting of the MLIS and ORM project to improve work practices and processes.

How Could the Māori Land Court Unit Improve Client Service Performance?

Overall, in our view, the Māori Land Court Unit provides a good level of service to its clients. However, we identified three aspects that could be improved:

  • management and reporting of case progress;
  • training of case managers; and
  • standardisation between registries.

Management and Reporting of Case Progress

We sampled applications made to the Māori Land Court for each of the last four years. We found that, nationally, 80% of applications were completed within 12 months, and that 8-10% of applications took longer than 18 months to complete. Applications that take longer than 12 months to process are referred to as a backlog.

The Māori Land Court Unit was not always responsible for the delay of applications that took longer than 12 months to process. Often, the Unit could not process the application because it was awaiting further evidence and information from the applicant, or the application was a complicated one (such as section 45 applications for amendment of the Māori Land Court’s record) that required special consideration by a Judge.

There were two main reasons for the backlog of unprocessed applications:

  • Māori Land Court registries give new applications priority over old ones that may have stalled for various reasons; and
  • the complexity of some types of application.

The Unit has recently sets targets relating to the completion of applications from previous years, and aims to implement a case management system based on the Timeliness Report that was released in December 2003.

In our view, separating cases that are waiting for internal action from those that require external action could improve the management of the backlog of applications.

Rule 38 of the Māori Land Court Rules 199422 provides for the disposal of longstanding applications where the Māori Land Court Unit is waiting for further evidence and information from the applicants. The applications can be disposed of through recommendations made by Māori Land Court Registrars to the Court. We understand that the Registrars have not referred cases to the Court under rule 38 recently but are now being encouraged to do so. Such an approach, if adopted with a corresponding change in the manner of reporting, would provide further scope for efficiency gains, with consequent benefits to clients.

The Māori Land Court Unit has recently started producing trial comprehensive Timeliness Reports, which identify backlogs and provide for changes to be made. When these reports are routinely produced, the Māori Land Court Unit will be able to set performance standards for each stage in the application process. This will have two benefits:

  • the identification of any issues arising by application type, registry, or team; and
  • clients can be informed, when making an application, of the average time such applications take to be completed in total, and stage by stage.
We recommend that the Māori Land Court Unit –
5. Actively target completion of applications that have taken more than 12 months to process, especially those delayed in the registries.
6. Continue to encourage greater use by Māori Land Court Registrars of the mechanism provided by rule 38 of the Māori Land Court Rules 1994.
7. Finalise the establishment of Timeliness Reporting.

Training of Case Managers

The level of service that clients receive from the Māori Land Court Unit depends on the level of experience of the staff member delivering the service. The Unit’s 2000 and 2002 client surveys identified further training of case managers23 as vital to meeting some of the concerns raised by clients.

Currently, training takes place within a team structure – with more experienced case managers teaching less experienced case managers. With small teams, this form of training works well for the most common types of applications. However, new case managers can have difficulty gaining experience in handling the less common or more complex applications. For example, they may feel reluctant to distract their colleagues by asking questions when they know that experienced case managers have a high workload. Furthermore, this type of arrangement can make it difficult to achieve consistency throughout Māori Land Court registries, as an individual case manager’s good and bad practices can be passed on to new case managers.

As part of the response to concerns about training of case managers, the Unit designed a ne w training package that would lead to the award of a diploma. It was intended that this package would be approved by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority, although this has not yet occurred.24 The diploma training package was to be independent of the former Department for Courts’ three-year course, which included two years of generic subjects for all Department staff, and a final year that included a Māori Land Court component.

We examined the structure of the new diploma training package and, in our view, it would have a positive impact on client service if completed by case managers. The diploma training package would be a valuable induction tool for the Māori Land Court Unit, and would also be helpful to fill any identified knowledge gaps for more experienced case managers.

There would also be benefit in introducing formalised training sessions to ensure that all staff members regularly complete training.25 Attendance at this training should be compulsory. This would reduce the likelihood of case managers not undergoing training because of the pressure to meet application-processing requirements. We consider that formalised training would improve the:

  • consistency of practice throughout registries; and
  • knowledge of staff in the Māori Land Court Unit.
We recommend that the Ministry –
8. Monitor the uptake of the agreed Ministry training programme by staff of the Māori Land Court Unit as a check that it is aligned with their needs.
9. Ensure that staff undertake the Māori Land Court Unit training modules.
10. Introduce formalised training sessions for all staff, and ensure that all case managers attend.

Standardisation Between Registries

The processes and procedures that a Māori Land owner needs to complete when dealing with the Māori Land Court Unit vary between registries. Variations occur for a number of reasons, including:

  • different protocols of iwi across the country;
  • the sort of land involved;
  • the geographical spread of the Māori Land Court registries; and
  • the level of experience of staff in the Māori Land Court Unit.

Different processes and procedures between registries can also arise from the administrative preferences of individual Judges. This can have practical consequences for Māori Land owners and the staff in the Māori Land Court Unit. For example, because there is no standard application form, it is likely that a Māori Land owner with two blocks of land located in areas covered by different registries will encounter different application forms and will need to satisfy different requirements.

There is also variation between registries in the production of the minutes of Māori Land Court hearings. This is influenced by the way a Judge chooses to record the minutes of a hearing – some prefer a transcription format while others use a summary format which is quicker to produce. The sooner the minutes are produced, the sooner the applicant can undertake the activities requested in the application. While the Māori Land Court Unit has an informal measure for the timeliness of minute production, it has not been considered suitable to report this externally because of the variations between the different registries. We recognise that the Māori Land Court Unit has made attempts at introducing standardisation in certain areas in the past, and that the Unit still views standardisation as an area for improvement.

It is important that any variation in practice is considered in terms of client service performance. If there is a negative effect upon timeliness or quality of service, or if the variation creates inequality of service, then standardisation should be considered. One way of identifying negative effects is to measure the influence that specific practices have on the timeliness and quality of the whole application process.

We recommend that the Māori Land Court Unit -
11. Continue its efforts to standardise application processes and procedures (including application forms) and the format of minutes for Māori Land Court hearings.

Other Observations About the Māori Land Court Unit’s Client Service

We also have some observations that, while outside the scope of our audit, raise questions about access by Māori to legal and dispute resolution services. We note these observations so that further thought can be given to their implications by Māori Land Court staff and Judges. They are:

  • the need for applicants and other persons to attend Māori Land Court hearings; and
  • the role of the Māori Land Court Unit in meeting the wider needs of clients, such as unmet legal needs.

The Necessity to Attend Court

The Māori Land Court often requires uncontested cases to be heard in person. We understand that this practice varies, and that some Judges and Registrars are more comfortable than others about dealing with matters through written submissions without the need for a formal hearing.

Because the authenticity of some written and signed documents has historically been called into question, people are required to attend the Court to validate evidence in support of applications.

By having an applicant appear before the Court, the Judge has an opportunity to satisfy himself or herself that the applicant is fully aware of the implications and consequences of the application. Affected parties are also given the opportunity to participate in the hearing. This reduces the risk of later challenges or amendments to Court orders.

However, requiring attendance may increase the cost to applicants (for example, travel costs and loss of income). Often, other parties also attend hearings, even if simply to express their support for the applicant. This can have practical consequences – for example, when a case is adjourned several times because it is difficult to get a supporting party to appear because of work commitments or distance issues. An alternative may be to allow supporting parties to have their evidence admitted by affidavit. Although applicants would usually bear the cost of compiling written evidence, this could be offset by other savings of time and cost.

Although these are primarily judicial matters and, to that extent, are outside the scope of our audit, we raise them as worthy of consideration from a client service perspective.

Meeting the Wider Needs of Clients of the Māori Land Court Unit

During our audit we became aware that many clients of the Māori Land Court Unit expect staff and Judges of the Māori Land Court to help them with their otherwise unmet legal needs.

Legal Support

Legal services for Māori Land Court applicants are scarce. Māori Land law is a specialised discipline within the legal profession, and the number of practitioners is small. Community-based legal services for Māori (especially in respect of Māori Land Court matters) are also thinly spread. Most applicants choose to represent themselves before the Māori Land Court, but many also look to staff of the Māori Land Court Unit, including Advisory Officers, to provide them with legal advice about what their options are within the Court process. Although neither staff nor Judges can provide legal advice, the Judges may make orders granting special aid, which can include legal costs.

The need for advice can also extend to wider issues. Staff of the Māori Land Court Unit are expected to confine themselves to providing advice of an administrative nature and are not to give legal advice. But, in practice, the sheer nature and extent of needs, and the non-availability of other sources of advice and assistance, makes it difficult for staff to maintain the distinction. The role of Advisory Officers as advocates may require further investigation in this regard.

Wider Dispute Resolution

Many of the applications that are adjudicated by the Māori Land Court reveal disputes that are wider than the status of the land – for example, personal issues between members of a whanau or hapu. Some of these cases are amenable to mediated settlement, and Judges are increasingly using the judicial conferencing procedure available under the Act to encourage such parties to explore options for resolution. However, the Māori Land Court Unit has no formalised role either in respect of wider disputes or in the use of mediation as a procedure for dispute resolution.

In the view of the Chief Judge, mediation is strictly a judicial function. However, staff sometimes find themselves, in effect, mediating between parties. Decisions about the use of mediation are also judicial matters, and it is not for us to comment.

Implications for the Māori Land Court Unit and Clients

As far as the Māori Land Court Unit is concerned, the existence of unmet legal needs can have consequences for applicants and for the effectiveness of the administration processes that support the Māori Land Court. For example, at the hearings we attended there were some cases where the Māori Land owners had made a particular type of application – and had been given administrative help by staff to do so. However, when the Judge discussed the case with the applicants in Court, the applicants discovered that this was not necessarily what they wanted to do, or that it was not the best way of achieving what they wanted. These sorts of situations can result in the application taking even longer to resolve, increasing the possibility that Māori Land owners will disengage from the process.

The establishment of the Advisory Service was a direct response to these types of problems. While the service has been a success, we were also impressed by the sensitivity shown by Māori Land Court Unit staff and Judges of the Māori Land Court towards the wider issues of unmet legal need among applicants, and their sense that more needs to be done to support Māori Land owners.

We are also aware that the Government has been considering changes that will broaden the Māori Land Court’s ability to decide applications in the most appropriate manner – for example, by formalising the use of mediation and enabling kaumatua to sit with Judges. We encourage this approach to continue to the extent that such changes would improve access to justice.

Client Costs

Again, it is not for us to comment on whether or not fees should be charged, but, since ease of access to the Māori Land Court is an element in the mix of factors when deciding on client service performance, we do have some comments on client costs.

The Ministry is currently conducting a review of civil court fees that includes Māori Land Court fees. The Ministry’s Consultation Document of May 2003 recommends introducing a nil fee for matters relating to ownership of Māori Land (currently the majority of Māori Land Court applications) and maintaining a two-tier fee structure for other activities.26

However, any application fee is only part of the total cost of doing business within the Māori Land system.27 Māori Land owners told us that these wider costs are an issue for them. For example, the current application fee for a succession is $61 but associated costs can easily match this – for example, $26 for each birth and death certificate to prove familial connection, plus any costs associated with travel to the Māori Land Court hearing, and any lost wages/income for the day.

We note that the Māori Land Court has the ability to waive fees in circumstances where it believes access to justice would be jeopardised. We also saw cases where the Judge determined that the applicant would receive the first $61 of any money that may come to a family group as a result of the applicant’s efforts.

Issues for Future Judicial Workload

The Māori Land Court Judges also sit on the Waitangi Tribunal. If their workload was to rise without a corresponding increase in the number of Judges, then it might take longer for applications to be processed.

16: Court sitting venues, dates, and times are displayed on the Māori Land Court’s web site.

17: The eight strategic issues are: paper-based records; relevance of the Māori Land Court’s information; Consultation Forum; matching resources to demand; Advisory Service outcomes; impact of policy initiatives; consistency of service; and building management strength.

18: The Māori Land Court Unit’s goals include:

  • ceasing operational dependence on paper records;

  • eliminating duplication, obsolete information, and inaccuracies from the MLIS;

  • developing the Operational Resource Model to assist matching of resources to demand;

  • enhancing reporting systems to assist predictions of future workload;

  • assessing the operational impact of the Advisory Service; and

  • developing consistent standards of service and standardised templates consistent with Māori Land Court Rules throughout registries.

19: Other new initiatives were the Geographic Information System, a nationwide panui, new information resources, new operational staff for the Māori Land Court, new training programmes, a web site Māori Landonline, and a Consultation Forum.

20: Research is for many purposes, such as looking for whakapapa and/or interests in Māori Land.

21: MLIS is the single most important tool supporting the Māori Land Court Unit’s case management system as it allows the case manager to electronically access all relevant information on a specific case.

22: Disposal of outstanding applications–

(1) The Registrar, shall, at intervals of not less than 6 months, prepare a schedule of applications that, without proper cause,–
(a) have not been prosecuted; or
(b) have not been finally disposed of.

(2) The Registrar shall send a copy of every schedule prepared in accordance with subclause (1) of this rule to the parties to the applications listed in that schedule and shall inform those parties that the applications will be referred to the Court for dismissal unless extensions of time are sought and obtained from the Court.

(3) Any dismissal of an application that has been referred to the Court under subclause (1) of this rule shall be without prejudice to the right of the applicant to make another application in respect of the matter or to the power of the Court to reinstate the application dismissed.

23: Case managers process an application from receipt to completion, as distinct from the Advisory Officers who are out in the field dealing with client queries and generating applications.

24: The Ministry is currently assessing the relationship between the proposed new package and the existing course.

25: This sort of training regime operates on a weekly basis at several government agencies, including the Accident Compensation Corporation and Work and Income.

26: The Ministry’s Consultation Document suggests the following fee levels:

  • a fee of $61 for routine applications (such as the approval of a charitable trust under section 245 of Te Ture Whenua Māori Act); and

  • a fee of $122 for more complex applications (such as an appeal from any order of the Māori Land Court to the Māori Appellate Court under section 58 of Te Ture Whenua Māori Act).

27: As noted previously, owners of Māori Land must use the Māori Land Court, so these costs are not discretionary.