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Tips for Updating Your Marae Charter – Whakapai Marae

Māori Reservations are a common type of Māori Land trust.  They can be established through the Māori Land Court under the provisions of Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993 and are also governed by the Māori Reservation Regulations 1994.  In most instances, Māori Reservations are set up for Marae and urupā purposes.  When establishing a Marae, a Marae Charter is required to guide the trustees, marae komiti and beneficiaries in the governance of the marae.

Recently, there has been a noticeable increase in Māori Reservation Trusts and marae seeking to update their Marae Charters.  Many are significantly out of date, hard to read, or do not make adequate provision for the aspirations of the marae or for the recognition of the tikanga and kawa of the marae.  Our tips for updating your Charter include:

  • Communicate with your beneficiaries and include them in the updating journey.
  • Consider how your Charter will best reflect your beneficiaries and the tikanga of your marae. This could include wording or kupu Māori that best reflect the marae.
  • Ensure simple language is used that is easy to understand.
  • Update clauses to provide for advances in technology and changes in the law. This keeps the Charter relevant and can help the Trust to engage wider and more easily with beneficiaries and reduce administration costs.
  • Make sure the beneficiary class is correctly recorded according to the Court order. If changes need to be made to the beneficiary class this can be included in a beneficiary hui.
  • Consider including a kōrero tuku iho or historical kōrero relating to the marae and/or the land.
  • Consider including relevant principles that the trustees should have regard to when undertaking their duties and exercising their powers under the Charter.
  • Set out a clear relationship between the Māori Reservation Trustees and any Marae Committee and the function and accountabilities of each. Often if there are no clear responsibilities, this can cause confusion and tension amongst the groups.
  • Consider adding a dispute resolution clause that provides for the tikanga and kawa of the marae. This could include the involvement of kaumātua, referral to a council of kaumātua agreed between the parties, or provision for a hohou te rongo (restoration of peace/mediation) process.
  • Consider adopting policies to sit alongside the Charter. This is helpful for matters that may not need to be detailed in the Charter but where it is important to have an agreed process.

A Marae Charter is a living document and it should be regularly reviewed to ensue it remains suitable and workable for the marae and its beneficiaries and should be updated, where necessary.  Maintaining a relevant Marae Charter can also help to keep beneficiaries engaged with the marae. The Māori Land Court also provides a useful Marae Charter template.

In reviewing and updating the Charter, consultation with and approval by the beneficiaries will need to occur.  This often happens at beneficiary hui but may take the form of several wānanga, where the changes are more in-depth changes, or where more time is needed to reach a consensus.  To ensure the process is run well, trustees should give sufficient notice of Marae Charter changes and ensure accurate minutes are kept of beneficiary hui.

Our team is available to work with you on modernising your Marae Charter and facilitating beneficiary hui to assist you with these matters. 

For any pātai, be sure to get in touch. Tiana is a Senior Solicitor in our Kahurangi team and can be contacted on 07 958 9700.


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