Find out how to apply to the Ngā Whenua Rāhui Fund.

The Ngā Whenua Rāhui Fund is not currently accepting applications due to oversubscription. 

Who can apply

Māori land authorities such as trusts and incorporations, organisations representative of whānau, hapū or iwi, and Māori owners of General land.

Applications must be made in the name of the organisation or individual who has legal status on the land block you are seeking protection over. For example, this could be an Ahu Whenua trust, Māori Reservation trust, charitable trust, incorporated society or individual Māori owner of General land.

Are you eligible

To be eligible to make an application, your entity or organisation must:

  1. have the legal right to enter into an agreement to protect the land identified in your application.
  2. have trustees or directors that meet regularly to fulfil their obligations under the rules of the organisation.
  3. ensure all trustees are available and accessible to sign an agreement if your application is successful.

Note: Eligibility does not necessarily guarantee a successful application. Your application may not be considered if in our opinion, your project does not fully meet the Fund’s Criteria (see below).

Fund criteria

Following is a summary of the applied criteria designed to help when considering your application. Full consideration of these will ensure you have sufficient information available for the first Kaitakawaenga visit. Read the information for applicants (PDF, 264K) for a full description of the criteria.


This is the extent to which the area proposed for protection is representative of the full range of indigenous biodiversity that was originally present in the natural landscape.


The extent to which the area proposed for protection is likely to continue to be viable and evolve in a natural way in the long term.

Cultural and natural heritage

The extent to which the area proposed for protection represents the cultural and natural heritage that resident whānau, hapū and iwi have associated with the land.

Landscape integrity

The extent to which the area proposed for protection contributes to and maintains the original integrity of the landscape.

Note: Criteria used for evaluating applications have evolved over time and will continue to evolve as new knowledge emerges.

What cannot be funded

The fund does not provide for:

  • administrative overheads or equipment to be purchased for unspecified projects
  • commercially oriented projects or those involving the immediate or future production of indigenous timber
  • restrospective costs.

Feasibility and funding criteria

Additional criteria which might be applied once other criteria have been assessed, include:

  • connectedness to other work and other protected areas
  • urgency of threats to the area that protection could alleviate
  • the opportunity for protection may not arise again
  • the cost of protection versus the value of protection
  • opportunity costs of not being able to protect other areas.

Use of criteria

These criteria will ensure a comprehensive evaluation of your application. The feasibility and funding criteria will be used once representativeness, sustainability, cultural and natural heritage, and landscape integrity have been assessed.

When and how to apply

The fund is not currently open to receive new applications. We will advise the next funding opening round in October 2024.

The process can take a few months following receipt of your application, therefore urgent requests for legal protection or funds cannot be considered.

We advise you to read through the full information for applicants (PDF, 264K) before completing your application.

What happens next

Once an application is received, information and documentation is collated to determine your legal capacity to enter into a formal arrangement. This task is done by a legal team and may take some time. We may request further documentation such as a Trust order or copies of encumbrances registered on the land title.


  • An application cannot be made for protection on land that does not belong to the applicant or entity making the application.
  • There are several variables that determine how long this first stage process will take. It may take longer if insufficient or incorrect information is provided in your application.

Once legal capacity to enter into an agreement is confirmed, a Kaitakawaenga will meet with you, gather further information and visit the land block proposed for protection. The Kaitakawaenga may also arrange for an indigenous biodiversity or cultural assessment to be carried out – this is at no cost to the applicant.

You will be advised if legal capacity to enter into an agreement cannot be confirmed. Your application will stop at this point. If relevant, the Kaitakawaenga will provide other available options to fulfil your project objectives.

Applications that satisfy the criteria are presented to the Ngā Whenua Rāhui Komiti for their consideration. An application that is supported by the Komiti is recommended to the Minister of Conservation for approval. The Minister of Conservation has the final decision as to whether to enter into an agreement with you.

Contact us

If you have any questions about the Fund or require assistance with completing your application form, contact your regional Kaitakawaenga. Hover over the area on the Ngā Whenua Rāhui regions map where your whenua is located, the name and contact details of your local Kaitakawaenga will pop up.  

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