Māori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell and Justice and Courts Minister Amy Adams have marked 150 years of Te Kooti Whenua Māori, the Māori Land Court.
Established in 1865 as the Native Land Court, the name was later changed in 1947 under the Māori Purposes Act 1947. It was set up to translate customary Māori land claims into legal land titles recognisable under English Law.
Minister Adams says, "The Māori Land Court is New Zealand’s oldest and longest established specialist court. It holds a special place in New Zealand and is one of a few courts of its kind in the world so it’s important we recognise this significant milestone."
She adds that the Māori Land Court has played an important role in New Zealand's justice system.
“Around 5% of all land in New Zealand is MĀori freehold land which is about 1.42 million hectares – 13 times the size of Auckland. On average, the Court processes around 3000 ownership applications a year which is a significant amount of work.”
Minister Flavell says, “Te Kooti Whenua Māori is the dedicated court in Aotearoa that recognises the unique and special bond that Māori have with land.”
“It also maintains and preserves records and valuable land information including whakapapa. This role has seen it forge relationships with Māori land owners over many generations," he continued.
As part of commemorations, Adams launched the publication, "He Pou Herenga Tangata, He Pou Herenga Whenua, He Pou Whare Kōrero," which highlights 150 years of the development and operation of the Māori Land Court.
This is the first publication that will allow people to gain an insight into the history, people and stories that make up the Māori Land Court.