Law changes for businesses and Māori governance entities

Published on Tuesday, 5 May 2020

Proposed new laws will support Māori businesses and a range of Māori governance entities to manage the immediate impacts of COVID-19.

The response to the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a number of unanticipated challenges to businesses, trusts, incorporated societies and boards. The Government is introducing law changes across a number of pieces of legislation to aid the response to, and recovery from, COVID-19. 

The COVID-19 Response (Further Management Measures) Legislation Bill is expected to be proceed as quickly as possible through the House.

Which entities are affected?

The proposed provisions will apply to building societies, charitable trust boards, companies, credit unions, firms, friendly societies, incorporated societies, industrial and provident societies, and limited partnerships, as well as the following Māori governance entities:

  • assembled owners (under Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993)
  • Māori associations (under the Māori Community Development Act 1962)
  • Māori land trusts (under Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993)
  • Māori incorporations (under Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993)
  • Māori reservations (under Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993)
  • Māori trust boards (Māori Trust Boards Act 1955), and
  • mandated iwi organisations (under the Māori Fisheries Act).

What is being proposed?

The Bill includes a number of proposed amendments that will enable Māori governance entities to operate more effectively during COVID-19 restrictions. This will assist where, for example, their constitution requires people to be physically present for certain activities. These proposed changes include:

  • enabling the use of electronic communications when an entity’s constitution or rules do not permit this
  • allowing entities to modify their constitutions or rules
  • giving registrars and Ministers the power to grant exemptions from certain statutory obligations.

To support businesses more generally, the Bill also includes changes to:

  • insolvency and corporate law to help businesses remain viable and keep New Zealanders in jobs
  • support commercial tenants and landlords struggling to pay rent or meet their mortgage obligations
  • the parental leave scheme to protect essential workers entitlements when they return to work.

You can read more about the changes proposed through the Bill here.

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