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Mā te whenua e whanake ai te whānau
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Language: English | Māori
Language: English | Māori

Preparing for succession

Preparing for succession

If you and your whānau have decided you're ready to start the succession journey, these are the first steps. If you need a hand at any stage, kaimahi at Māori Land Court can help.

When you’re preparing for succession, it helps to find out as much as you can about the whānau member who died. To start the whakapapa discussion, talk with whānau — here’s a checklist of the kind of information kaimahi at Māori Land Court (MLC) will need to get your succession application underway.

  • Names
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    When MLC look for records related to your whānau member, they’ll start by searching for them by name.

    The name you knew them by might not be the only name they had. Check with whānau to find out:

    • every name your whānau member was known by (or at least as many as you can)
    • any variations on the spelling of their name, or shortened versions of their name — like Joseph, Joe or Jo
    • any nicknames they used.
  • Whakapapa
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    When you’re talking about the person who died with whānau, ask about their parents, siblings, grandparents, great-grandparents, aunties, uncles and cousins.

    Every whānau is unique, and finding out as much as you can about yours helps MLC make sure their research is comprehensive and accurate first time round.

    For example, your whakapapa details can help MLC confirm they’ve found the right person when they’re searching their records.

  • Whenua
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    When you’re talking to whānau or friends about the whānau member who died, ask them if they know about any land interests they might have had.

    You can also do a search online or at Māori Land Court offices.

    How to get information about Māori land

  • Māori incorporations
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    There are over 150 Māori incorporations looking after whenua Māori. Interests in Māori incorporations are often missed out during succession applications because whānau either:

    • don't know that their whānau member had shares in an incorporation
    • don't include details of them in their succession application.

    When kaimahi at MLC are researching your succession application, they need to know that your whānau member possibly held shares with Māori incorporations. This is because MLC don't maintain the ownership lists for incorporations – each incorporation maintains their own ownership lists and records, and MLC need to request this information from them.

    If you're not sure if your whānau member had shares in a Māori incorporation, talk to whānau to see if they know of any. If not, contact the Māori incorporations in your area and ask them instead.

    MLC have a list of Māori incorporations around the motu, with contact details for each.

    Māori land Court register of Maori incorporations

    How to get information about Māori land

  • A death certificate
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    One of the things that MLC will need when you make a succession application is the death certificate for the person who died. If you don't have a copy, you might need to talk to whānau to find out if anyone else has one. If not, or you can’t find it, you can apply to the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) to get a copy.

    Get a death certificate from DIA

  • A will
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    Find out if anyone knows if your whānau member left a will. If so, they might have left instructions in it about what they wanted to do with their whenua. Any instructions will need to meet the rules set out in Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993 to be valid, though.

    Who can succeed

    If your whānau member did leave a will, check to see if it has instructions about whenua Māori in it. If so find out:

    • who the executor is
    • if the will has been probated — if not, you may not need to probate it.

    If it doesn't mention whenua Māori, have a chat to the kaimahi at Māori Land Court. They can help you understand your next step.

    If your whānau member didn't leave a will, or you're unsure about it, that's fine — MLC kaimahi are happy to help out.

    Find out how to get a copy of a will

    Find out about probate and letters of administration

If you can't get information from whānau

There are government agencies you can talk to if:

  • you can’t find the information you need from whānau, or
  • you’re not in touch with whānau.

For example, the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA), the Ministry of Social Development (MSD), or Oranga Tamariki may be able to help you find information about your whānau and where you came from.

See contact details for DIA

Contact MSD

Find contact details for Oranga Tamariki