Silver fern

Image: Brendan Bombaci | ©


Apply for the Ngā Whenua Rāhui Fund.This fund supports the protection of indigenous ecosystems on Māori-owned land while honouring the rights guaranteed to landowners under Te Tiriti o Waitangi.


The principles of the fund are geared towards the owners retaining tino rangatiratanga (ownership and control). In its kaupapa and role Ngā Whenua Rāhui is reaffirming the bond between tangata whenua and the land.

Ki te āwhina i te tangata whenua ki te tiaki i ngā ngahere motuhake-ā-Tāne me ērā atu wāhi motuhake i runga i ōna ake whenua.

In this section

Who can apply

Māori land authorities such as Trusts and Incorporations, organisations representative of whānau, hapū or iwi, and Māori owners of general land can apply.

Fund criteria

Before submitting your application read the full Ngā Whenua Rāhui Fund criteria.

The criteria used for evaluating applications have evolved over time and will continue to evolve as new knowledge emerges. The following sets out the currently applied criteria and is designed to help applicants consider these matters as they are completing their application.

Additional criteria which might be applied include:

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

Cultural resilience, maintenance and practices

The following criteria will be used (but not restricted) to evaluate applications:

  • the area has strong cultural, spiritual and symbolic significance to whānau/hapū/iwi
  • the area is an important source for food, cultural materials and rongoā
  • the area is traditionally known for taonga species.

Ecological representative

The extent to which the area proposed for protection is representative of the full range of vegetation variety that was originally present in the natural landscape, including:

  • commonplace, rare and threatened indigenous species, habitats, and communities
  • the ecological processes that link them
  • the extent to which the ecosystems are already protected in the proportion that they were originally present.

Ecological sustainability

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, including the extent to which the area is:

  • protected by its size and shape
  • buffered from the effects of adjoining land uses or activities
  • linked to or dependent on other protected areas (either physically or by ecological processes) for its continued viability
  • expected to maintain its ecological integrity through major natural disturbance events
  • vulnerable to the depredations of introduced species
  • able to be managed to protect its ecological values
  • expected to contribute to sustaining existing protected areas, through additional scale, buffering, linkages or restoration.


The following are some key factors that are considered in assessing applications:

  • the extent to which the project meets the Fund's criteria of spiritual and cultural importance, representativeness, practicality for sustainable management and landscape values
  • the merit of the proposal, particularly in its relationship to the scope, objective and strategy of the Ngā Whenua Rāhui Fund
  • the contribution the owners will commit to the project
  • the capacity of the owners to complete the project satisfactorily (including long-term management) and to meet the terms and conditions of any grant
  • the extent to which the projects are likely to enable effective on-going actions to avoid future dependency on support from the Fund. This may include eco-tourism or other non-extractive activities such as honey production
  • projects which are funded for water and soil purposes by Regional Councils.

What the fund excludes

The fund does not cover:

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

Consideration may on occasion be given on a case by case basis to include costs of hui and protection negotiations.

How to apply

Either fill in the online application form or download and send to one of the addresses below. Make sure you address the fund criteria and have prepared all supporting documentation before submitting your application.

Download the Ngā Whenua Rāhui Fund application pack (PDF, 3,308K) or (Word, 2,347K)

Application process

Applications are received and assessed by Kaitakawaenga against set criteria. Kaitakawaenga may meet with landowners and visit the land block to be protected. Kaitakawaenga may also arrange for an ecological or cultural assessment to be carried out – this is at no cost to the applicant.

A submission is prepared for each application and presented at a Komiti meeting for consideration. An application that is supported by the Komiti is recommended to the Minister of Conservation for approval. A legal agreement is then prepared and subsequently signed by the Trustees/Committee of Management or landowner and Minister or delegated representative.

Assistance with applications

If you require assistance with completing your application form, contact your district Kaitakawaenga:

Taitokerau / Waikato Maniapoto
Meryl Carter
Phone: +64 9 438 3667
Mobile: +64 27 247 5807

Waiariki / Waikato Maniapoto
Rob Whitbourne
Phone: +64 7 307 2775
Mobile: +64 27 836 4490

Whakarae Henare
Phone: +64 6 869 0491
Mobile: +64 27 591 6053

About the fund

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

The mission of Ngā Whenua Rāhui is to enable Māori landowners tinorangatiratanga associated with their land and to achieve specific biodiversity outcomes. Established in 1991, Ngā Whenua Rāhui aims to enable, facilitate and support activities directed at the protection of indigenous ecosystems through:

  • helping to protect representative, sustainable, landscape integrity of indigenous ecosystems which have cultural importance to landowners;
  • leaving the land in Māori ownership and control; and,
  • covenanting (kawenata) and management agreements.

Indigenous ecosystems refer to those aspects associated with Tāne Māhuta and the freshwater realm of Tangaroa that in their local or national context are considered important ecologically. It includes indigenous forests, wetlands, tussock lands and coastal dune ecosystems on land owned by Māori.

Methods of protection on Māori land

Ngā Whenua Rāhui employs three types of agreements to formalise arrangements between landowners and the Minister of Conservation. The type of agreement used will depend on the protection being sought and land status. The three agreements are:

  • Ngā Whenua Rāhui Kawenata (s77A Reserves Act 1977) applies to long-term protection.
  • Agreement for the Management of Land (s29 Conservation Act 1987) is suited to smaller blocks. 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 1993.
  • Deed to enter into a Conservation Covenant (s77 Reserves Act 1977) is used for Māori-owned land that is in General Land Title.


Once the blocks are protected the agreement is noted in the Māori Land Court.

Rates remission

The fund does not cover the cost of rates imposed by a Territorial Local Authority (TLA) or Local Councils. However, landowners may be eligible for rates remission for land that is protected by Ngā Whenua Rāhui agreements depending on their local TLA Policy. It is the responsibility of Applicants to apply to their local TLA for rates remission.

Ngā Whenua Rāhui Kōmiti

The fund is administered by the Ngā Whenua Rāhui Komiti who makes recommendations to the Minister of Conservation on applications by Māori landowners to legally protect their land. Applications will be considered by the Komiti which meets up to four times per year.


Contact the Kaitakawaenga
Phone: 0800 112 771

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