Dispute resolution service
Disputes about Māori land can be complex and difficult, and can delay connection to and plans for developing whenua.
You can now choose to resolve disputes related to Māori land through a free, tikanga-based mediation service provided by the Māori Land Court.
It is part of the changes to Te Ture Whenua Māori Act that came into effect on 6 February 2021.
Benefits of mediation
We can help you access high-quality mediation try to settle disputes confidentially, outside of a court sitting.
The mediator will guide the parties in the dispute through mediation based on the tikanga agreed by the parties.
It is a free and voluntary process where parties can kōrero privately and come up with workable solutions everyone agrees on.
The mediation conversations to settle the dispute are confidential to you and your whānau and the other parties involved. No record of these conversations will be publicly available on the Māori Land Court record.
The dispute resolution service is free of charge, but you may need to meet the costs of travel to attend mediation and of any independent legal advice (if you choose to seek it).
Initially Māori Land Court judges will act as mediators. In the future, the service will be supported by a pool of non-judicial mediators identified to have the right skills to support disputes over Māori land.
When a judge is appointed as mediator, they will not be able to sit on the court proceedings related to that specific case.
Applying for dispute resolution mediation
The criteria for using the dispute resolution service include:
- the dispute in question must be related to Māori land
- all the people involved in the dispute must agree to using this service.
If you have a current application in the Māori Land Court that is being delayed by a dispute, you can ask for your application to be put on hold while you attempt to settle the dispute outside of the court process.
If you want to make an application to the Māori Land Court, but a dispute is delaying you from doing so, you can also apply to use the dispute resolution service.
A judge may also refer any issue arising in court proceedings to mediation.
You can apply to use the dispute resolution service through any one of our offices; we will ask you to fill out an application form:
Our Māori Land Court staff will continue to provide administrative support and guidance to you and your whānau and the other parties involved throughout this process.
If you have made an application for dispute resolution (mediation) you will be contacted by us about any preparation you might need to do for mediation.
It is important that we can contact you during the application process. During this time, we will ask you to take part in important decisions to:
- appoint a mediator
- confirm a suitable date and venue for the mediation hui
- agree on the tikanga practices to be carried out as part of the dispute resolution process.
You and the parties involved in the dispute will need to agree on the mediator to be used, or one can be appointed for you.
You need to be available to attend the mediation hui when scheduled.
If an agreement is reached through mediation, the mediator will record the terms of the agreement and provide this to the Māori Land Court. A judge may make a court order to formalise what has been agreed by the parties.
You will receive a written copy of the outcome from your dispute resolution hui. Keep this in a safe place as you will need this to help you decide on what further steps you may need to take. This could include:
- submitting a further application to the Māori Land Court
- continuing with a current application in the Māori Land Court
- seeking advice or continuing with further mediation with the same or a different mediator.