The Māori Trustee owns shares, in its own right, in around 180 Māori Land Blocks
How did this ownership issue arise?
Back in the 1940’s and early 1950’s there was a push for Māori land title improvements. The objective was to encourage amalgamation of uneconomic Māori Land interests to reduce fragmentation of ownership titles and also to make it easier to bring useable land into production.
Some shares were compulsorily acquired
The Māori Affairs Act 1953 addressed the title improvement measures by enabling the Māori Trustee to purchase uneconomic interests (defined as any share in Māori Land that was valued at less than £10 (later changed to £25)) and make the shares available for purchase by other owners in the Block. The acquisition of uneconomic interests was known as “compulsorily acquired shares”.
Voluntary sales were possible, called Live Buying, and there was strong uptake
This same Act also made it possible to voluntary sell shares to the Māori Trustee, which was known as “Live Buying”. Again, the Māori Trustee paid cash for the shares, amalgamated the shares, and made them available for purchase by other owners in the Block. Many owners sold shares to allow them to repay debts, or to assist in the purchase or building of a new home, or for other purposes. This occurred at a time of substantial Māori migration from rural to urban locations for work purposes, so uptake was high.
Very high number of owners sold their land interests voluntarily
From the late 1950’s to the mid 1960’s Māori Trustee acquired substantial interests in Māori Land, both through compulsory acquisition and through voluntary sale. Increases in the size of share parcels and the value of the shares made resale extremely difficult, resulting in a poor overall percentage uptake. Nevertheless, a large number of shares acquired were actually resold.
Compulsory acquisition abolished – Live Buying continues
Many Māori later became unhappy with the Legislation, in particular the compulsory share purchase aspects. Many felt the loss of shares in ancestral lands compromised their right/ability of tūrangawaewae. Due to general discontent, the compulsory acquisition of uneconomic interests was abolished in 1975. Live buying continued, principally to assist financing housing proposals under the Māori Purposes Act