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Te Whenua Law

Te Whenua Law is a specialist Māori law firm offering support to Māori social and economic development initiatives in three key areas, Māori Land Law, Waitangi Tribunal and Māori Business and Charitable Entities.

Māori Land Law

Te Whenua Law can assist you to administer your Māori land by providing general advice on Māori land law and good governance practices.

We can also assist you to file applications in the Māori Land Court to:

Succeed to land interests

Establish and manage administrative entities such as trusts and incorporations

Gift or sell your land interests

Occupy or build on land

Partition or sub-divide land

Lease, licence or create joint ventures over land

Attain mortgages and finance

Create access ways, roadways or rights of way over land

Correct errors in Māori land records

File appeals with the Māori Appellate Court

Determine who owns what on Māori land (such as shares or a house)

Determine who should benefit from the proceeds from a lease or sale of Māori land

Hear or determine any claim for damages for trespass on Māori land

Hear or determine any contract dispute relating to Māori land

Issue an injunction against any person, agent or organisation (including the Crown), in respect of Māori land.

Waitangi Tribunal

Te Whenua Law can advise and represent you on claims in the Waitangi Tribunal. Waitangi Tribunal claims can be made by any Māori where:

  1. a claim that an ordinance, Act or regulation, order, proclamation, notice or other statutory instrument, or policy or practice, or an act or omission of the Crown
  2. has prejudicially affected the claimant(s)
  3. and that the law, or the action, omission, practice or policy is inconsistent with the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi.

Claims made after 1 September 2008 can only concern Crown actions or ommissions that occurred on or after 21 September 1992. Actions that occured before that date are defined as historic claims which must have been flied prior to 1 September 2008.

An examples of a contemporary claims which Te Whenua Law is involved in include, a claim to the Waitangi Tribunal alledging that the Crowns has failed to adequately protect Māori from the impacts of climate change in breach of the Treaty of Waitangi.

Māori Business

Proper legal advice and support can make a huge difference in achieving your organisational goals and outcomes. By means of example, many Māori entities perform a social function and have a charitable purpose. Yet it is suprising to see how many Māori community organisations such as kohanga reo, marae trusts and health and social service providers have not yet registered for charitable status.

Registering for charitable status has a number of benefits. A key benefit is that registered charities are generally exempt from income tax. Ngai Tahu Charitable Group is the second wealthiest charitable entity in New Zealand with a total asset worth of $1.254 billion. Tax exemption has allowed the entity to save millions of dollars for use on growing the charitable purposes of the entity such as the education, religious development and relief of poverty for Ngāi Tahu people.

In addition to tax benefits, funders can easily access detailed information about registered charities on the Charities Register in support of applications for funding. Your charities registration number also provides proof of your charitable status to supporters and funders and may give greater public confidence in your activities.

Te Whenua Law can assist your organisation to manage and administer its business affairs in accordance with the law, and in the most efficient and effective means possible to acheive your goals., whether that be by registering for charitable status, or investigating the feasibility of developing commercial operations on your land.

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