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Are perpetual leases on Māori-owned land a basis for currently enforceable fiduciary obligations?

Dara Dimitrov, University of Waikato


The issue of whether the colonial Public Trust Office owed a fiduciary obligation to Māori arising from the colonial perpetual leases held over Māori-owned land remains mostly unanswered. While several judgements explore fiduciary obligations owed to Māori, these mainly consider fiduciary obligations arising from specific legislative Acts , directly from the Treaty of Waitangi (the Crown-indigenous relationship ) or from the legal perspective of attempting to make the Crown a trustee of either a constructive trust or an express trust This article suggests that the duty arises from the manner in which the colonial Public Trust Office administered the native reserves, an argument that has yet to be judicially considered.