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Roadways over Māori land

This page covers common questions about roadways over Māori land.


What are roadways over Māori land?

Roadways over Māori land provide access over Māori land to other Māori land, or sometimes to general or Crown land. The title to the underlying land remains with the Māori landowners. The access may be open to the public or may be limited to the affected landowners.

The term “roadway” distinguishes them from ordinary public roads, as defined in the Local Government Act 1974. These roads are vested in the Crown or local authorities.

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How are roadways over Māori land created?

Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993 provides for the laying out of roadways over Māori land by orders of the Māori Land Court. The Court also has the power to amend or cancel such orders.

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How can I locate roadways over Māori land?

Generally, roadways over Māori land are registered on titles and shown in the cadastre. The cadastre is the system Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) uses to record land ownership and boundaries.

Provided roadways have been registered with LINZ, you can locate them by searching the relevant block name or Certificate of Title on the Māori Land Court’s mapping website. You can also view some on the Herenga ā Nuku mapping system.

Maori Land Online

Our maps

Some early Māori Land Court decisions have not yet been registered, so any roadways created by these decisions will not be found in the cadastre.

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Who is responsible for the formation and management of roadways over Māori land?

The relevant order by the Māori Land Court may specify who is responsible for forming the roadway. Otherwise, it is a matter for the affected land owners to decide. In some cases, local authorities may contribute to forming and maintaining the roadway, especially if it provides public access.

There is no statutory administrative mechanism to manage roadways over Māori land.

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Is public access restricted on roadways over Māori land?

Unless the Māori Land Court states otherwise when making the order, the public has the same right to use roadways over Māori land as ordinary legal roads.

However, in some cases, the Māori Land Court has restricted access, so you cannot assume that all roadways over Māori land are open to public access.

Where access is restricted, the public may still be able to use the road but only at the invitation of a party with access rights.

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How can I tell if access to a roadway over Māori land is restricted?

Information about access restrictions requires a search of the relevant Māori Land Court order. The order and assistance with them is available in the Māori Land Court Registry offices for the area they are responsible for.

You can find these orders by searching the judgments on the Māori Land Court part of the Ministry of Justice website.

Ministry of Justice

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What if the roadway over Māori land is unformed?

Some roadways over Māori land are unformed and difficult to locate on the ground.

Therefore, in addition to checking the legal status of the roadway, potential users should also discuss their intentions with the owners of the underlying land.

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Download Board Paper

2019 Board Paper Roadways on Māori land (PDF 585KB)