The Journey to Te Ture Whenua Māori

Published on Tuesday, 16 February 2016

The reform of Te Ture Whenua Māori is the most significant to have occurred in the last 40 years. During that time Māori have advocated for greater tino rangatiratanga over their whenua. 

They have strongly advocated that land be nurtured for current and future generations and called for Māori owned land to be free from the obstacles and red tape that makes it difficult to use and develop their whenua.


The purpose of the reform of Te Ture Whenua Māori is to recognise the significance of Māori land and to create a more workable set of rules and practical supports. 

There are three main parts to the reform – providing better law, support to Māori land owners and improved outcomes.

Better law

A law that:

  • respects the intrinsic cultural significance of Māori land
  • supports and promotes the retention and use of Māori land by its owners
  • empowers Māori land owners to pursue their aspirations for the sustainable development of their land.


A service that:

  • supports owner decision-making and encourages participation
  • ensures Māori land ownership and title records are accurate and accessible
  • gives Māori land owners the information they need and provides an effective alternative to litigation to resolve disputes
  • makes it simple to register Māori land governance bodies.

Improved outcomes

Reforms that lead to:

  • Māori land owners making and acting on their own decisions
  • fuller and more effective utilisation of Māori land.
The Journey to Te Ture Whenua Māori


Native Land Court established.


Commission of Enquiry - Native Land Court practices.


Māori Affairs Act.

Allowed for some flexibility of use for Māori land and also introduced mandatory conversion.


Land march led by Dame Whina Cooper, 'Not an acre more'.

This was the genesis for modern Māori land law.


Royal Commission on the Māori Land Court.

Recommended complete revision of Māori land law and separating judicial and administrative functions of Māori land.


Kaupapa: Te Wāhanga Tuatahi.

New Zealand Māori Council set out the dual kaupapa of retention and development for the rewrite of Māori land law.


Te Ture Whenua Māori Bill introduced to Parliament.


Te Ture Whenua Act 1993 becomes law.


Māori land Investment Group.

Independent group of Māori explore options to make it easier to raise finance for Māori land and recommended more practical support for Māori land owners and narrowing role of the Māori Land Court.


Te Ture Whenua 5 year review.

This review was provided for under the current Act, to assess how the Act was working. Although there was widespread support for changes to increase land owner autonomy, only some of these were progressed as part of Te Ture Whenua Māori Amendment Act 2002.


 Māori Multiple Owned Land Development Committee.

Independent group recommended more support for Māori land owners to develop their land and increasing the accuracy and completeness of Māori land information.


Māori land Court.

Administration restructured.


Closing the Gaps for all New Zealanders.

Introduced increased support for Māori land owners and improved the information available for Māori land owners.


Māori Land Online project.

Information from the Māori Land Court record on ownership and records for all Māori land blocks made accessible via the web.


Hui Taumata Māori Land Tenure Review group.

Presented recommendations to support Māori land development, including more support for Māori land owners, improved registration systems and more autonomy for Māori land owners.

Office of the Auditor General report.

Recommended improvements to the administration of the Māori Land Court.


Owner Aspirations Research report.

Independent research to ask Māori land owners about their priorities for whenua Māori. Recommended practical changes to law and support systems.


Review of Te Ture Whenua Māori.

Independent panel recommended five key changes to Māori land law and administration to increase autonomy and ability of Māori land owners to connect and use their whenua, while keeping good safeguards for whenua.


Cabinet decisions.

Cabinet approved the review panel's recommendations to improve the utilisation of Māori land, and to progress the reforms through Te Ture Whenua Māori Bill.


Iwi/Crown consultation process.

Nationwide hui to inform people of the proposed reforms.


Appointment of Ministerial Advisory Group.

Established to provide independent advice on the exposure draft of the Bill and the Māori Land Service.


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