Case Study


Solomon v Johnson

Te Mata Property Ownership

Applicants, Craig Solomon and Vanessa Wilkinson built a house on a hectare of land on block Te Mata E3. Te Mata E3 is situated near Manaia in the Coromandel peninsula and comprises 54,0685 hectares more or less. Craig and Vanessa sought a determination that the agreement entered in with Te Haumarangai Hector Ngapu Connor to purchase one hector of the Māori freehold land was a binding contract.

Key Issues

The three key issues faced by the applicants for the Māori land purchase were;

    1. Did the applicants and Te Haumarangai enter into an agreement for the sale and purchase of one hectare of Te Mata E3 (“the section”);
    2. If so, is that agreement enforceable under the law of contract; and
    3. If an enforceable agreement has been entered into, should the court make an order per s 164 in favour of the applicants.
The respondents who had succeeded to Te Haumarangai’s Māori land interests opposed the application and issued a notice of termination to the applicants, per s 210 of the Property Law Act 2007, requiring the applicants to vacate the land within 20 working days.

How We Helped

In 2016, Dixon & Co Lawyers represented the applicants, Craig and Vanessa before the Māori Land Court in seeking a determination of a purchase agreement of a section on Māori land.
  • EDixon & Co Lawyers assisted the applicants and it was found, beyond doubt that Te Haumarangai intended for the applicants to build a permanent residence on a section of Te Mata E3, (not the whole block). Te Haumarangai’s consent to the application to determine the ownership of the house strengthened the conclusion that he intended the applicants to own this particular section. The elapse of time since the purchase price was agreed upon, the relationship between the parties and the element of tuku whenua in the transaction all adequately satisfied consideration.
  • EVanessa was also close kin of Te Haumarangi which supported the Kaupapa and principles of the Te Ture Whenua act, to enforce the principles of retention and development in the hands of the owners, their whanau and their hapū. The finding that Vanessa was a member of the preferred class of alienees was considered in the application.
  • EHer Honour Judge Milroy determined that the arrangements constituted an enforceable agreement for sale and purchase between Te Haumarangai Connor and the applicants. An order pursuant to s 164 was made in favor of Vanessa Wilkinson, transferring shares in Te Mata E3 corresponding to the section occupied by the applicants.
Purchase of Maori Land - Kelly Dixon advising a client.

Services We Provided

Services provided by Dixon & Co Lawyers applicable here, with expertise and advice in Māori land law, contract law and the Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993.

Maori Wood Carving a symbol for Maori Legal Services

Māori Legal Issues

With over 20 years’ combined experience in Māori legal issues, our lawyers can provide you with legal advice to meet your needs, delivering results for you in a practical, no-nonsense and cost-effective manner.

Learn more

houses on the hill representing property law service

Property Law

We can help you through the lifecycle of property ownership. From buying and selling property, to completing loan arrangements, forming trusts, completing wills, advising you on the implications of property ownership in relationships, completing powers of attorney and dealing with your property in the event of death.

Learn more


As set out by the Court, this determination was consistent with the Preamble and s 2 of the Act as the agreement also allows whanaunga of the deceased Māori land owner, Te Haumarangai Connor, to occupy the land. The requirements of Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993 in relation to the alienation of an undivided share in Māori freehold land, therefore had been fulfilled.

Tips & Advice

Key learnings when dealing with freehold Māori land.

Key Learnings When Dealing With Freehold Māori Land

If owners of Māori land want to sell or gift their interest in the land, they must first notify and ...
Read More
about the author

Kelly Dixon


Kelly specialises in civil litigation and in providing strategic advice on private law matters as well as the full range of hapū and iwi governance issues.

about the author

Alisha Castle


Alisha has appeared in the Family Court, the Māori Land Court, the Māori Appellate Court, the High Court and in various inquiries before the Waitangi Tribunal for a number of Treaty of Waitangi claimants.


Image of a house -Building Papakāinga On Your Whenua

Building Papakāinga On Your Whenua

Being able to build Papakāinga on your whenua is a great way for Māori to feel reconnected with their turangawaewae ...
Read More
Mana Whakahono A Rohe Process - resource management & decision-making.

Mana Whakahono A Rohe Process

The Resource Legislation Amendment Act 2017 has made significant amendments to the Resource Management Act 1991 that largely came into ...
Read More
Muttonbirding case, granting Rakiura Māori marine title over their muttonbirding islands.

Did You Hear About That Muttonbirding Case?

After a long journey in the High Court, Rakiura Māori were granted customary marine title over islands that they carried ...
Read More
Book a meeting

Subscribe To Our Email List

Get the latest news, updates & legal advice with tips and insights that can help you find solutions to your legal issues.

Thank you for joining our subscription list.