The Māori Purposes Bill 2011: Four New Māori Affairs Acts

The Māori Purposes Act 2011- Changes to Legislation Affecting the Estate of Pukepuke Tangiora

The Māori Purposes Act 2011 changes the legislation affecting the Estate of Pukepuke Tangiora. It removes Crown involvement in the administration of the Estate, and extends the distribution period for the Estate.


  • The original will of Pukepuke Tangiora came into effect in 1936. Under her will, Pukepuke Tangiora’s estate, which comprised landholdings in Hawke’s Bay and other taonga, was to be held for the benefit of her only son, Te Akonga Mohi, his wife and nine children. Te Akonga Mohi’s children (the life beneficiaries) were granted life interests in some of the Estate assets. On the death of the last life beneficiary, the will provided for the residual estate to be held in trust and not distributed for a period of 20 years.
  • The terms of the will were modified by legislation at various stages throughout the 20th century. Legislation passed in 1943 and 1951 resulted in the Crown having more functions in respect of the administration of the Estate than would otherwise be usual. This included a requirement for Trustees to be appointed by the Governor- General and the ability of the Minister of Māori Affairs to approve purposes for which money could be paid to beneficiaries out of estate funds.
  • Legislation passed in 1943 also removed the 20-year prohibition period over the distribution of Estate assets. As a result estate assets were required to be distributed to capital beneficiaries of the Estate immediately upon the death of the last life beneficiary.

Hariata Baker’s Petition

  • In 2005, Hariata Baker, at the time one of the last two remaining life beneficiaries, petitioned Parliament to revive Pukepuke Tangiora’s will in its original form. Hariata Baker was particularly concerned that the Crown should no longer be responsible for appointing and dismissing trustees, and that the original 20-year prohibition should be reinstated.
  • In considering the petition, the Māori Affairs Committee on 18 August 2008 recommended that the Government make legislative provision to:
    • establish a more appropriate trustee appointment process; and
    • reinstate a prohibition on partitioning, selling, leasing, mortgaging, charging, or encumbering corpus land until 20 years after the death of the last life beneficiary.
    • the Government response to this recommendation supported the establishment of a more appropriate trustee appointment process, but stated that more information was required before a response could be given to the Committee’s recommendation regarding the 20-year prohibition.

New Amendments

  • The Māori Purposes Act 2011 removes the role of the Crown in the administration of the Estate, and instead confirms the Māori Land Court’s jurisdiction to appoint and dismiss trustees and hear all matters relating to the administration of the Estate. To ensure continuity in the administration of the Estate, the Act confirms the present trustees to the Estate.
  • The Māori Purposes Act 2011 extends the period of distribution for the Estate to five years after the death of the last remaining life beneficiary to allow the members of the Estate sufficient time to come to an agreement regarding future Estate governance arrangements. The five-year extension is intended to allow for a robust decision-making process without unduly interfering with the legitimate expectation of the beneficiaries to inherit their interest in the Estate in accordance with the will as modified by legislation.