3. History of Land Management & Administration

Traditional values, modern world

Wakatū undertakes traditional activities in contemporary ways, such as producing crops and harvesting seafood. We are an organisation with a conscience that operates in holistic and sustainable ways for the benefit of our current and future owners.

An understanding of the traditional Māori relationship with the natural world is important when considering how modern Māori organisations such as Wakatū view the environment and our role within it. 

Our close relationship to the natural world is at the heart of our culture and identity. It drives our pursuit of finding responsible and sustainable ways to make the most of our natural resources. 

Physical and spiritual sustenance 

Our natural environment is not only viewed as a resource but a vital taonga (treasure) to be protected, and as a source of collective identity. Land provides not only physical, but also spiritual sustenance.

Over many centuries we have developed meaningful ways of interacting with our environment, and have a profound understanding of natural resource conservation.  Our ethic is based on principles of respect and sustainability. These principles are inherent in the values underpinning our organisation today.


Land – Whenua is the mauri, or foundation, of Wakatū. Over 70% of our assets are held in land, with our trading activities primarily land based.

Corpus land

The land originally vested in Wakatū upon its establishment in 1977 is known as the “corpus land.” This was the remnants of the Nelson Tenths and some Occupational Reserves and comprised 1393.77ha valued at $11 million.

The beneficial entitlement of the owners was quantified by converting the value of the whenua into shares and issuing those shares to the owners.

TTe Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993 and the Māori Reserved Land Act 1955 (plus amendments) set out the minimum obligations of Wakatū with regard to whenua. Our policies require that our corpus be maintained, both in area and in present value, reflecting initial corpus holdings.


We maintain a Corpus Reserve Memorandum account which reconciles the initial whenua introduced to Wakatū, along with subsequent disposals and additions. The corpus can include whenua as well as improvements such as buildings. 

Corpus land disposals are subject to shareholder approval.