Learn about the Ngā Whenua Rāhui Fund.

The Ngā Whenua Rāhui Fund is a contestable Ministerial fund that exists to facilitate the voluntary protection of indigenous biodiversity on Māori owned land while honouring the rights guaranteed to Māori landowners under Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

The fund’s kaupapa is to protect remaining indigenous biodiversity on privately owned Māori land that represents the full range of indigenous biodiversity originally present in the landscape. Established in 1991, the fund enables and supports activities to protect indigenous biodiversity on Māori land, by:

  1. Placing formal protection (kawenata agreement) over the whenua whilst allowing landowners to maintain their tikanga and tino rangatiratanga.
  2. Developing and implementing a plan to address introduced pest plant and animal species.
  3. Building landowner capability to manage activities on their land.
  4. Developing partnerships with external agencies and working in collaboration to achieve outcomes for landowners.
  5. Leaving the land in Māori ownership and control.

This applies to indigenous remnant forests, waterways and riparian margins, wetlands, tussock lands, coastal dunes and saltmarsh ecosystems on Māori freehold, customary land, Māori reservation or General land owned by Māori.

Protection methods

Three agreement types are used to formalise arrangements between landowners and the Minister of Conservation. The type of agreement used depends on the management structure of the land that landowners are seeking to protect.

  • Ngā Whenua Rāhui Kawenata (s77A Reserves Act 1977 or s27A Conservation Act 1987) applies to long term protection on Māori Freehold land
  • Agreement for the Management of Land (s29 Conservation Act 1987) is suited to smaller blocks. It requires an application to be lodged with the Māori Land Court and the proposed area set aside as a Māori Reservation pursuant to s338 of Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993
  • Deed to enter into a Conservation Covenant (s77 Reserves Act 1977 or s27A Conservation Act 1987) is used for Māori-owned land that is in General Land title

An Agreement for the Management of Land is noted in the Māori Land Court. In the case of a Conservation Covenant, it is registered against the title of the land.

The Fund is administered by the Ngā Whenua Rāhui Komiti who provide independent advice and make recommendations to the Minister of Conservation on applications to the fund from Māori landowners to legally protect their land.

Rating of Māori land

On 12 April 2021, the Local Government (Rating of Whenua Māori) Amendment Act was passed. The Act made changes to the rating of Māori land to reduce the barriers for effective partnership between local government and Māori to support the development of whenua Māori and modernise the rating legislation that applies to whenua Māori.

One part of the new Act made land subject to Ngā Whenua Rāhui kawenata non-rateable from July 2021. To find out more, visit Te Puni Kōkiri - Rating Māori Land 2021 (PDF, 353K) or contact your local Council.

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