Te Ture Whenua Māori Act review announced

  • Christopher Finlayson
Māori Affairs

An expert panel will review Te Ture Whenua Māori Act with a view to unlocking the economic potential of Māori land for its beneficiaries, while preserving its cultural significance for future generations, Associate Māori Affairs Minister Christopher Finlayson announced today.

There are over 27,137 blocks of Māori land under Te Ture Whenua Māori Act, comprising 1.42 million hectares, or around 5% of the total land in New Zealand.

A report in March 2011 by the (then) Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry estimated that up to 80% of Māori land was under-performing for its owners. In many cases this was because of structural issues which stemmed from the legislation.

“The 2011 MAF report showed there are a number of issues affecting the performance of Māori land and I see these in my work travelling the country as Treaty Negotiations Minister,” Mr Finlayson said. “In particular compliance costs associated with Te Ture Whenua Māori Act and the processes of the Māori Land Court can also have flow on effects for governance. That is why I have commissioned a very able panel of experts to review the Act and make practical recommendations for enhancing the legislation.”

“Improving the performance and productivity of Māori land would provide tremendous economic benefits to its owners and to the country as a whole.”

“Another key consideration for the review is that Māori land owners believe Māori land should be retained and passed on to future generations, as taonga tuku iho (a legacy),” Mr Finlayson said. “It should be retained and developed for the benefit of owners - whānau, hapū, and iwi. This cultural value is explicitly recognised in Te Ture Whenua Māori Act and must be protected in any changes to the legislation.”

The Act was last reviewed in 2002, but most recommendations went unimplemented.

The expert review panel will be chaired by lawyer Matanuku Mahuika. The other members are Tokorangi Kapea, Patsy Reddy , and Dion Tuuta. The panel will report to the Associate Minister of Māori Affairs with recommendations in December 2012.

Review Panel Members

Matanuku Mahuika (Chair)

Matanuku Mahuika (Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Raukawa) is a founding partner of Kahui Legal and has been working in corporate and private practice since 1991. He was formerly a partner at Walters Williams & Co and in-house counsel at the Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries Commission.

He is is Chairman of Sealord Group Limited, a Member of the New Zealand Geographic Board and a Member of Te Waka Toi, Creative New Zealand’s Māori Arts Funding Board. He is former Deputy Chairman of Aotearoa Fisheries Limited.

Tokorangi Kapea

Tokorangi (Toko) Kapea (Ngāti Apa Ki Rangitikei, Taranaki whānui [Taranaki, Wellington, Te Tau Ihu], Te Ātihaunui-a-Pāpārangi, Ngāpuhi) is an experienced commercial lawyer and company director. He is a partner of Tuia Legal and a director of Tuia Group. Most of his legal career has been in in-house legal and commercial roles and he has previously worked for the Bank of New Zealand, Meridian Energy and St George Bank New Zealand.

He has been a Committee Member of Parininihi ki Waitōtara Incorporation since 2005, is Chair of Ngāti Apa Developments Limited and Director of Port Nicholson Fisheries Limited.

Patsy Reddy

Patsy Reddy is a professional director, consultant, and barrister and solicitor. Patsy has had 25 years of corporate governance experience as a non-executive director of a wide range of New Zealand companies including Telecom, Sky City Entertainment, New Zealand Post and Air New Zealand. She is currently Deputy Chair of the New Zealand Transport Agency, a director of private equity firm Active Equities and Payments NZ and a member of NZX Markets Disciplinary Tribunal. Patsy is Chief Crown Negotiator for Treaty of Waitangi settlements in the Bay of Plenty.

She also has significant experience in the arts and not-for-profit sectors and is a current trustee of the New Zealand International Arts Festival, the Wellington Jazz Festival and the Victoria University of Wellington Art Collection Trust. She is a Fellow of the New Zealand Institute of Directors.

Dion Tuuta

Dion Tuuta (Ngāti Mutunga and Ngāti Tama) is Chief Executive of Parininihi ki Waitōtara Incorporated, a position he has held since 2008. He has had extensive experience in the Māori sector and has previously held management positions at Crown Forestry Rental Trust and Te Puni Kōkiri.

He has been Chair of Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Mutunga since 2008, and acted as the chief negotiator for settlement claims from 2002-06 and Transition Manager from 2007-08. Dion is also a Trustee of the Taranaki Arts Festival Trust.

Terms of Reference

Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993 Review Panel


The Māori share of the total New Zealand asset base is significant but there is significant scope to increase investment returns from collectively-owned Māori assets. For example, a 2011 Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry report suggested 80 per cent of Māori land is either under-performing or under-utilised. Increasing the productivity of these assets can make a contribution towards improving the wellbeing of Māori as well as the New Zealand economy as a whole.

However, this must be achieved within the context of Māori land as taonga tuku iho (a legacy) of special significance to Māori that should be retained and developed for the benefit of owners, their whānau and hapū. Recent research into the aspirations of Māori land owners found Māori land should be retained and used to enable it to be passed onto future generations and that the use of the land should balance commercial and cultural imperatives.

The Associate Minister of Māori Affairs has been asked by the Minister of Māori Affairs to commission a panel to examine these issues in more detail.


The ultimate outcome sought is to empower Māori land owners to achieve their aspirations while enabling the better utilisation of their land.


Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993 (TTWMA) Review Panel (the Panel) will make recommendations on what form of legislative intervention might best support the owners of Māori land in reaching their aspirations.

Empowering Māori land owners to achieve their aspirations will involve making recommendations in four key areas:

  • Ownership: Māori land owners are affiliated and engaged with the land;
  • Governance: there are appropriate structures and trustees with expertise to support effective decision-making;
  • Access to resources: resources are available to enact decisions; and
  • Utilisation: the better utilisation of Māori land is enabled.
  • In addition, the Panel should make recommendations to improve capability, in terms of skills and knowledge, in all of these areas.

It is proposed the Panel develop a menu of practical recommendations that will facilitate progress in each of these areas. The focus of the recommendations should be on assisting owner-driven utilisation, rather than seeking to impose pre-determined solutions, as the former will be more sustainable in the long term.

The Panel will focus on considering legislative options as non-legislative options will be considered as part of the work of the Māori Economic Development Panel and the Māori Land Advisory Group. However, this does not preclude the Panel from noting these issues as it proceeds with its work programme.


The Panel will:

  • draw on existing research and conduct additional research and consultation as required;
  • assess the extent to which the current regulatory environment is enabling or inhibiting the achievement of Māori land owner aspirations in general as well as specifically in the cases of ownership, governance and access to resources;
  • undertake consultation; and
  • provide a report to the Associate Minister of Māori Affairs with a series of structured recommendations on what form of legislative intervention might best support the owners of Māori land in reaching their aspirations.


Given the importance of the issue, the Associate Minister of Māori Affairs wishes to be in a position to introduce legislation in 2013 if required. As a result, the timelines the Panel will be required to work to will be short:

  • May 2012: the Panel established;
  • June-July 2012: the Panel to identify issues and consult stakeholders as they deem necessary;
  • August-September 2012: the Panel to assess options for the better utilisation of Māori land;
  • October-November 2012: the Panel to undertake consultation on possible options for the better utilisation of Māori land; and
  • December 2012: the Panel to submit a final report to the Associate Minister of Māori Affairs.

The Panel will be required to keep the Associate Minister of Māori Affairs informed of its work on an on-going basis.