Appendix: Summary of legislation about Māori land

Government planning and support for housing on Māori land. Ngā whakatakotoranga kaupapa me te tautoko a te Kāwanatanga ki te hanga whare i runga i te whenua Māori.

Tāpiritanga – He whakarāpopototanga o ngā ture e pā ana ki te whenua Māori

This Appendix summarises how some legislation has affected Māori land and its use.

Early legislation focused on encouraging European settlement and individualising Māori land titles, replacing customary communal ownership. The trend towards individual ownership created problems for retaining Māori land. By 1891, Māori had virtually no land in the South Island and less than 40% of the North Island. Much of the land still held by Māori was poor quality and hard to develop.

Native Lands Act 1862 The Act created the Native Land Court (renamed the Māori Land Court in 1947) to identify ownership interests in Māori land and to create individual titles in place of customary communal ownership. This change made sales of Māori land easier and saw the beginning of fragmented ownership interests in Māori land. The Act also allowed for up to 5% of Crown-granted Māori land to be taken for public works without compensation.
Native Lands Act 1865 This Act replaced the 1862 Act and reflected a stronger push toward individualising Māori land title and fragmented ownership. For example, certificates of title could be issued to no more than 10 owners. The Act also expanded the ability to take 5% of Crown-granted Māori land for public works without compensation to include all Māori-owned land.
Native Land Act 1873 Under this Act, title could no longer be held by iwi or hapū. All individuals with an ownership interest had to be named in the title. Individual Māori received blocks of land that were partitioned and repartitioned into uneconomic parcels of land. Fragmentation and loss of land continued.
Native Townships Act 1895 This Act was passed to promote settlement and open up the interior of the North Island. It allowed the Government to establish townships without first acquiring land from Māori. The Crown could compulsorily acquire land Māori would not sell.
Māori Lands Administration Act 1900 This Act provided for the formation of Māori Block Committees to investigate the ownership of customary land. Māori Land Councils were established to decide what amount of land was enough to support every individual owner (papakāinga). These inalienable reserves were set aside for individuals to encourage productive use of the land. Māori lost control of non-papakāinga land because it had to be vested in the Māori Land Councils responsible for administering land for settlement purposes.
Māori Land Settlement Act 1905 This Act modified the Māori Lands Administration Act 1900. It renamed Māori Land Councils to Māori Land Boards. Board members were nominated rather than elected. Māori "surplus" land was to be vested in the boards, which were required to set apart inalienable reserves and then lease the land for settlement. This was compulsory in the Tokerau and Tairawhiti Māori Land Districts. Other areas used a voluntary system for placing land in the the boards' administration. Private leases were allowed with the consent of the boards.
Native Land Settlement Act 1907 This Act required Māori Land Boards to sell 50% of surplus lands vested in them and lease 50%.
Native Land Act 1909 This Act consolidated 69 existing Acts and introduced private dealing in Māori land with provisions for decisions on sales and leases to be made by majority shares.
Native Land Amendment and Native Land Claims Adjustment Act 1927 This Act repealed the right to take up to 5% of Māori land for public works without compensation.
Native Land Amendment and Native Land Claims Adjustment Act 1929 This Act provided for large-scale development of Māori land. It set up the Native Land Development scheme.

By the 1950s, some legislation included provisions to protect Māori land. However, some legislative changes and future amendments led to further loss of Māori land, especially in the drive to force "productive" use of Māori land.

Māori Affairs Act 1953 Anyone who could show the Māori Land Court that a good piece of Māori land was not being used could apply to have it vested in trustees. Māori whose shares in land were of low value were forced to sell them to the Māori Trustee.

This Act remained the governing legislation for Māori land for 40 years
Māori Affairs Amendment Act 1967 This allowed for Māori freehold land with fewer than five owners to have its status changed to general land. This enabled the land to be sold or mortgaged.

The Act increased the powers of the Māori Trustee to compulsorily acquire and sell so-called "uneconomic interests" in Māori land.

Various Public Works Acts and planning legislation contributed to further losses of Māori land.

Public Works Acts Public Works Acts generally set out provisions and conditions for taking land for public works. Both the Crown and local authorities had powers to take land for public works, in some cases without having to provide compensation to Māori landowners. Definitions of public works expanded over time, leading to further loss of Māori land. Often, there was little consideration for traditional uses of the land and how public works might affect those uses. Under the Public Works Act 1928, Māori customary land was excluded from exemptions on compulsory takings and from other requirements such as the requirement to notify owners.
Town and Country Planning Act 1953 This Act consolidated previous town planning legislation and created planning provisions that covered all land, not just urban areas. District schemes under this Act began to control the use of Māori land. Processes such as designated use, zoning, subdivision requirements, and public reserve contributions affected how Māori land was used and retained.

When dealing with planning matters under its jurisdiction, the Māori Land Court was required to have regard for the requirements of district schemes.

The Act did not provide for Māori interests to be taken into account in developing district schemes.

More recent legislation provides for some recognition of Māori interests in Māori land and for protection of these interests. However, some planning processes remain as barriers to Māori using the land.

Town and Country Planning Act 1977 This Act introduced the first recognition of Māori interests within planning legislation. It provided for social and cultural issues to be balanced with physical land use planning matters. While giving some recognition to Māori values, planning legislation did not always address alienation issues. Processes such as zoning still restricted Māori land use.
Resource Management Act 1991 This Act provided stronger recognition for issues of importance to Māori. Under this Act, authorities preparing district plans are required to have regard to any relevant planning document recognised by an iwi authority.
Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993 This Act is the guiding legislation for the Māori Land Court. It recognises that land is a taonga tuku iho of special significance to Māori people and aims to promote retaining Māori land and its use for the benefit of its owners, their whānau, and their hapū.

The Act provides for Māori land to be managed by various trustees.
Local Government Act 2002 This Act is the guiding legislation for local authorities. It sets out the purpose of local government and includes special provisions for involving Māori in decision-making processes (section 81). Section 102 of the Act requires local authorities to have a policy on remission and postponement of rates on Māori freehold land.13 Section 108 sets out the requirements for that policy.

13: Although local authorities are required to have a policy, that policy can be to not allow the remission of any rates.

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