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Maori Land Law Sales - A Summary
As the recent case of Steedman v Apatu in the Maori Land Court (http://tinyurl.com/qe83jtm) illustrates, the sale of Maori land is often not straightforward and can sometimes be contentious.
Maori land is defined and governed by the Te Ture Whenua Maori (Maori Land) Act 1993. Under its terms, an owner of a block of freehold Maori land can alienate (sell or otherwise dispose of the title of) that land. Whilst it is not as simple as selling general land, it can be done.
Before a sale can proceed, it is necessary to obtain a certificate of confirmation from the Maori Land Court. For the Court to issue this certificate, a number of legal requirements need to be met, some of which are mechanical issues that may be easily addressed if advice is sought at the outset.
However one aspect that is not straightforward is the role of the preferred class of alienees (PCA), members of which have a right of first refusal to acquire Maori land.
Typical examples of this class are children and whanaunga of the owner. An offer from a member of the PCA will trump one from outside the PCA, provided that the price is matched; PCA do not get to buy at a discounted price. The owner has the right to choose between offers of two or more interested PCA.
The terms of the Maori Land Act are subject to the interpretation of the courts and the case referred to above further refined the definition of whom the PCA comprises.
The Maori Land Court may require that the land be advertised or formally offered to PCA before it will confirm the sale. We can assist you to work through this process.
Cara Bennett, Senior Associate
Find out more about our Maori Land Law practice.
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