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Maori Land Trusts  

Hinga Whanau
Active Member

Kia ora kia koutou,

Our whanau are contemplating setting up a trust to better manage blocks of land in our possession. (Well, under our whanau name.) The Maori Land Court has released an excellent information booklet detailing various types of trusts. However, there is little information about the pro's and risks involved.

Is there value in forming a trust to manage whanau land and if so at what point? For example, depending on size of land, size of whanau, interests etc.

I would be particularly grateful to hear from those who have been involved in one - but for some reason it is now dissolved. Of course, any information would be appreciated.

For a copy of the booklet please go to www.justice.govt.nz/maorilandcourt/. Go to services then click on application forms.

Posted : 17 November, 2006 10:16 am
kotiro_maori OWC
Active Member

Kia ora te roopu hinga whanau.

I know of your concerns,my lands are in a family trust but not all members have joined the trust of which was very sad to me.
Straight away I ask myself why did some choose to not join us?
I am a younger member of the family,and I am still learning alot of legalities as to all things pertaining to inherited land.
I have learnt that you need to always ask questions and never presume.So what it means for me is I need to do my own research in all things and keep records for my children, as they know nothing as to how they inherited the land.
Talking to my children also about the land has been a hard thing as they say to me that it's to heavy,to deep for them.But I will keep talking to them so they understand,I just hope time is on my side.
I believe that puting your lands into a family trust is a good thing as having the support of the majority is seen to the MLC and government departments and you should have a stronger voice and be heard.
I still believe that in your family trust you must speak for your very own family and never presume and always keep records of meetings that were had as a family trust for your children so that they know what went down.
I am at the point right now where I need to do research of my own for my own piece of mind and therefore to pass on information to my children.
Anyway I don't know wether this has help you any.
I only hope so.

Edited by - kotiro_maori on Feb 01 2007 12:46:23 PM

Edited by - kotiro_maori on Feb 01 2007 12:48:46 PM

Posted : 01 February, 2007 12:35 pm
matahuru OWC
Eminent Member

tena koe te roopu

A whanau trust to andminister land is a good idea but there are few things that you should be weary of. Firstly, make sure you have buy in from all the shareholders/beneficiaries of the land. You say that it is your familys land, is that your immediate family or extended? If immediate then thats ok, if extended then you will need to contact them all one at a time to get thier buy in.

Now one of the pitfalls is the power of the trustee. By default once a trust is started, trustees become all powerful. They are able to treat the land as though it belonged to them solely and should a disagreement arise, very little can be done about it.

The way to counter that is to write certain clauses into the trust deed or constitution that limits the power of the trustees to make decisions for the land without beneficiary consultation and maybe even a vote to determine majority opinion, then bind the trust to its results. Remember, a trust deed can be changed to better suit the needs of your whanau, but certain clauses can be set in concrete so that they cannot be changed. Things like, the land cannot be sold, or leased, without the approval of the shareholders.

The main thing is that you put in place measures to ensure your descendents and those of the other beneficiaries, get a fair deal.

Also insist upon a financial audit every year, that way your documentation has not built up to the point where an audit would be impossible or expensive.

My last bit of advice, and in my opinion the most important, would be to do a Maori trustee training course. Te Puni Kokiri of the Maori land court should have information about that for you area. I cannot stress that enough. It has helped us beyond measure.

Good luck.

Posted : 02 February, 2007 10:00 am
Active Member

I agree with you too Matahuru, our whanau need to really understand what the responsibilities are of being a MAORI TRUSTEE. Alot of our people get nominated on to various (Trusts) because its who they are rather than what they know. More (free)training courses do need to be setup around the MOTU, it's a very important role to take on, especially for yourself and for the beneficiaries.
Kia Ora

Posted : 15 April, 2007 11:37 pm
mixedarts OWC
New Member

kia ora

does anyone have a clue on once the whanau trust is formed, are there any funding options for the trust to be able to gain survering etc for the development on maori owned land? Has anyone been through this process

Posted : 23 April, 2007 6:18 pm
matahuru OWC
Eminent Member

kia ora mixed darts
it depends on what you would like to do with the land once it is surveyed.

If you just want to know what is there and where the boundaries are then you can get that information from Land Information Dept or purchase a lim report from your local council.

If you are planning on building a marae or papakainga housing then yes there is funding available through Marae Heritage (Internal Affairs) TPK fund feasibility studies for marae or maori land development of which you could include a survey.

Hope that helps and goodluck.

Posted : 24 April, 2007 1:42 am
frontman OWC
Active Member

my whanau have a Ahu Whenua Trust and so far it has been going fine. Our reasons for having a Trusr was mainly to protect the lands. We had Land Developers nosing around at some of the vacant plots located close to the beach and so felt we needed to take some action. We felt that was the only way we could stop please excuse the word (raping) our coast line. We know that land by the beaches are will sort after. Hope this is of some help

Posted : 02 July, 2007 8:27 pm
pono OWC
Eminent Member

Kia ora

Thought this ariticle be useful in case whether you learn to run a trust yourself or pay someone else to run it.

Trustee might be sued for getting it wrong. They might be liable for inland revenue penalties if there are tax issues.

Why are some trust or maybe many trusts at risk?
What is family trusts?

Every family has a trust these day it seems
have become big business.
Doing the initial paperwork to create a trust is the easy part.
But how can a trusts be properly run?
If the trust has not been correctly administered, then in the eyes of the law it is as if it never existed. It offers no protection at all.

Trusts were only for the very wealthy. They were a way of controlling the family fortune as it was handed down the generations and also a useful way of minimising death duties.

I ask people, why they're got a trust and they don't really know.

This kind of trust should cost about $2500 to setup and about $300 a year to run. If there is a professional trustee involved, or other assets like shares that need to be actively managed, then annual running costs can rise to $1000 and more.
For a trust to be valid, the trustees have to be seen to be treating any property and investments in the trust as if they now belonged to someone else.
This means that all trustees have to be involved in any decision-making. There must be proper meetings and minutes.

Here a family trust checklist;
*Do all trustees have copies of trust documents?
*Have all trustees read the deeds in the last year?
*Has there been a meeting of trustees in the past year?
*Have all trustees been included in every decision?
*Have all decisions been recorded in writing?
*Are there annual accounts?
*Has gifting been completed on time?
*Does the trust have a written investment policy?
*Does the trust have its own bank account?

It is essential that anyone with a trust understands they act for the beneficiaries may be themselves.

Setting up a trust and was allowed to walk out the door without a clue what to do next.

Ask how to administer the trust or find an accountant.
Otherwise, the feeling of being protected is just an illusion.

Don't be let down by a misplaced faith in trusts

Posted : 03 July, 2007 1:11 pm