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Practice Note for Lending on Whenua Māori

Tuhinga Ārahi – Nama Pūtea mā Whenua Māori

Te Kooti Whenua Māori - The Māori Land Court has released a practice note about lending on whenua Māori (Māori freehold land). We have developed content to supplement the practice note.

About the practice note

Te Kooti Whenua Māori - The Māori Land Court has released a practice note about lending on whenua Māori (Māori freehold land).

Our Issues Paper on Improving Māori Access to Capital outlined several barriers that exist for Māori. One of these is lending on whenua Māori, which makes up around 5% of land in Aotearoa (1.4 million hectares). This practice note helps to clarify the steps required when dealing with whenua Māori.

The note can help landowners, lawyers and the banking sector:

  • understand the mortgage process on whenua Māori
  • potentially reduce transaction costs, and
  • hopefully broaden options for finance.

Read our Issues Paper: Improving Māori Access to Capital (PDF, 768KB)

Treatment of whenua Māori in the mortgage process


Based on the Māori Land Court practice note, Te Pūtea Matua has developed the content below. It is designed as a visual aid only and is intended to supplement and not replace the Māori Land Court practice note. Please refer to the Māori Land Court practice note and the relevant legislation for detailed guidance.

Lending on Whenua Māori land trust

When whenua Māori is held by a Māori land trust

Approving and registering a mortgage when whenua Māori is held by a Māori land trust.

1. Check the trust order to ensure it does not prevent trustees from registering a mortgage against the land.

If the trust order does prevent a mortgage
An application will have to be filed to amend the trust order per s 244 of the Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993 ('the Act').

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2. Trustees approve the mortgage.

Generally, the trustees can approve the mortgage by a majority resolution (s 227).

Again, it is important to check the trust order, as some require certain decisions to be made by trustees unanimously.

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3. The mortgage documents required to register the mortgage are signed by all of the trustees noted in the Court records.

If one or more of the trustees are unable or refuse to sign the loan documents
See paragraphs 6, 7 and 8 of the Māori Land Court practice note for more information.

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4. The mortgage instrument is sent to the Registrar for noting (ss 150A and 150B of the Act).

  • The mortgage does not have to be approved by a Judge.
  • The mortgage does not require a certificate of confirmation from the Registrar.

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5. Once the mortgage has been noted by the Registrar, the solicitor for the trust can register the mortgage against the title to the land with Land Information New Zealand in the same way that a mortgage would be registered against General land.

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6. A mortgagee can exercise the power of mortgagee sale over whenua Māori in the same way as any other land. 

See paragraph 23 of the Māori Land Court practice note for more information. 

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7. The mortgagee must send the sale documents to the Registrar for noting to update the Court’s records.

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8. Upon mortgagee sale, the land remains as Māori freehold land.

Farmers using device on farm

When whenua Māori is held by a Māori Incorporation

Approving and registering a mortgage when whenua Māori is held by a Māori Incorporation.

1. Check that there are no restrictions in the constitution for the Incorporation which prevent a mortgage from being registered against the land. See paragraph 9 of the Māori Land Court practice note for more details.

a. If there are restrictions preventing a mortgage the Incorporation will have to amend its constitution per s 268 of the Act.

b. Where the Incorporation does not have a constitution, it is governed by the Māori Incorporation Constitution Regulations (s 268 of the Act).

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2. A mortgage can be approved by a majority of the members of the Incorporation's committee of management (provided the majority is no less than 3 members of the committee s 270 of the Act).

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3. Where the mortgage has been approved by a majority, the mortgage documents can be signed as follows (s 270):

a. By fixing the common seal of the Incorporation in the presence of 2 members of the committee of management. 

b.  The 2 members who witnessed the seal must also sign the mortgage documents.

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4. The mortgage instrument is sent to the Registrar for noting.

  • The mortgage does not have to be approved by a Judge.
  • The mortgage does not require a certificate of confirmation from the Registrar.

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5. Once the mortgage has been noted by the Registrar, the solicitor for the trust can register the mortgage against the title to the land with Land Information New Zealand in the same way that a mortgage would be registered against General land.

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6. A mortgagee can exercise the power of mortgagee sale over whenua Māori in the same way as any other land.

See paragraph 23 of the Māori Land Court practice note for more information.

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7. The mortgagee must send the sale documents to the Registrar for noting to update the Court’s records.

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8. Upon mortgagee sale, the land remains as Māori freehold land.

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When whenua Māori is held directly by the owners

Approving and registering a mortgage when whenua Māori is held directly by the owners.

1. Every owner must approve the mortgage.

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2. Every owner must sign the mortgage documents.

Where there are a large number of owners, obtaining unanimous consent to a mortgage can be difficult or impossible. In those cases, a mortgage can be approved by:

a. A resolution carried at a meeting of assembled owners per Part 9 of the Act; or

b. Constituting a trust or incorporation over the land and using the administration structure to approve the mortgage as set out above.

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3. To register the mortgage, the owners must apply to the Registrar for a certificate of confirmation per s 160 of the Act.

See paragraph 15 of the Māori Land Court practice note for more information.

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4. Once a certificate confirming the mortgage has been issued, the owners' solicitor can register the mortgage against the title to the land with Land Information New Zealand in the same way that a mortgage would be registered against General land.

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5. A mortgagee can exercise the power of mortgagee sale over whenua Māori in the same way as any other land.

See paragraph 23 of the Māori Land Court practice note for more information.

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6. The mortgagee must send the sale documents to the Registrar for noting to update the Court’s records.

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7. Upon mortgagee sale, the land remains as Māori freehold land.

Family by wooden playhouse

When there is a leasehold estate of whenua Māori

Approving and registering a mortgage against a leasehold estate of whenua Māori.

1. A mortgage can be registered against a leasehold estate of whenua Māori in the same way that it can be registered against the freehold estate. However, it is important to check the lease as: 

a. The lease may prevent the registration of a mortgage against the leasehold estate; and

b. The lease may also require the lessor to approve the mortgage (the lessor is the person or administration structure who granted the lease, who will usually hold the title to the land).

c. If consent from the lessor is required, the same process above to approve the mortgage (by a trust, incorporation or owners) applies. 

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2. The lease must be approved by the trustees of a trust, the committee of management of a Māori Incorporation, or by the owners (if there is no administration structure) in the same way that they approve a mortgage as set out above.

Where the lease has been approved by a Māori land trust or a Māori Incorporation:

a. If the term of the lease is for less than 21 years (including any rights of renewal) the lease does not have to be approved by a Judge, confirmed by the Registrar, or noted by the Registrar. It doesn’t require any interaction or involvement with the Court.

b. If the term of the lease is between 21 years and 52 years (including any rights of renewal), it must be noted by the Registrar.

c. If the term of the lease is more than 52 years (including any rights of renewal) it must be:

i. Approved by the trustees or the committee of management as above;

ii. Approved by at least half of the owners or the persons who hold at least 50% of the shares in the land or the Incorporation; and

iii. Approved by a judge.

Where the lease has been approved directly by the owners:

a. If the term of the lease is more than 52 years (including any rights of renewal) it must be:

i. Approved by at least half of the owners or the persons who hold at least 50% of the shares in the land; and

ii. Approved by a judge.

b. For all other leases:

i. The lease must be approved by the owners in the same way that they can approve a mortgage; and

ii. The Registrar must issue a certificate of confirmation for the lease per s 160 of the Act.

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3. A mortgagee can exercise the power of mortgagee sale over whenua Māori in the same way as any other land.

See section 23 of the Māori Land Court practice note for more information.

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4. The mortgagee must send the sale documents to the Registrar for noting to update the Court’s records.

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5. Upon mortgagee sale, the land remains as Māori freehold land.

More information


For further information and support about lending on whenua Māori, please see these organisations and agencies.

Tupu.nz

Tupu.nz has information related to development on whenua Māori from governance to planning. It includes a search function for funding and downloadable reports about Māori land blocks.

Visit the Tupu.nz website

Māori Land Court

The Māori Land Court operates under the authority of the Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993 as well as other legislation to ensure that Māori land is treated as taonga-tuku-iho.

Visit the Māori Land Court website

Te Tumu Paeroa

As the Office of the Māori Trustee, Te Tumu Paeroa is the organisation that supports the Māori Trustee in carrying out her statutory and other legal duties, responsibilities and functions.

Visit the Te Tumu Paeroa website

Poutama Trust

Poutama Trust is an independent charitable trust established in 1988 to provide business development services to Māori.

Visit the Poutama Trust website

Te Puni Kokiri - Whenua Māori Service

Te Puni Kokiri - Whenua Māori Service supports Māori freehold landowners to realise their aspirations for their whenua.

Visit the Te Puni Kokiri - Whenua Māori Service website

Toitū Te Whenua - Land Information New Zealand

Toitū Te Whenua - Land Information New Zealand provides expert property and location information, manages Crown land and regulates overseas investments.

Visit the Toitū Te Whenua - Land Information New Zealand website

Kāinga Ora – Homes and Communities

Kāinga Ora and Kiwibank are working together to help Māori achieve home ownership on their multiple-owned land through the Kāinga Whenua loan scheme.

Find out more about Kāinga Whenua Loans on the Kāinga Ora website

Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI)

The Ministry for Primary Industries Māori agribusiness team is dedicated to helping Māori landowners and agribusinesses achieve their goals.

Find out more about Māori agribusiness on the MPI website

Ministry of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

Whai Kāinga Whai Oranga is a 4-year, $730 million commitment to speed up the delivery of Māori-led housing. It funds both small-scale Māori housing projects and larger developments, from repairing existing homes to building new ones. Whai Kāinga Whai Oranga is jointly administered with Te Puni Kōkiri. 

Find out more about Whai Kāinga Whai Oranga on the HUD website