The Legacy

Wiremu Pere and his family were owners of land in their own right and were owners of undivided interests of various land titles. However they were indebted to many different institutions and individuals and being unable to pay the interest and principal on mortgages the land was liable to be sold pursuant to the provisions of the mortgages. Wi Pere applied to the Bank of New Zealand to advance sufficient money to pay off and discharge most urgent liabilities of himself and his family.

The bank consented with the following conditions:
I. That Wi Pere and his family transfer all their estates to a Trust formed under the provisions of the "Native Land Laws Amendment Act 1897".
II. That the Trustee appointed should be consented to by the Governor and that all restrictions should be removed from the land.
III. That Walter George Foster of Wellington be appointed Trustee who should have exclusive control, without the interference by any of the beneficiaries, over the management and disposal of the land.

The Governor approved the appointment of WG Foster as Trustee and removed all restrictions of the Maori Land Acts over the land so that it was placed in the same position as land owned by Europeans.

Because the power given to the Trustee was so absolute and exclusive and his responsibility so limited Wi Pere and his family refused to execute the Trust Deed until compelled by fear of losing their estates.

On 14 April 1899 Wi Pere and his family assigned all their property to WG Foster by way of Trust.

WG Foster attended to his duties pursuant to the Trust until 1905 when Wi Pere and his Co-beneficiaries instigated the repayment to the Bank of New Zealand the sum of forty seven thousand pounds owed.

WG Foster having completed his work and Wi Pere and his family wishing to appoint another Trustee who was resident in the district chosen and appointed by themselves under terms and conditions less oppressive than those that existed arranged the enactment by the General Assembly of New Zealand "The Wi Pere Estates Act 1906"

Wi Pere, his wife Arapera, Hetekia Te Kani Pere and Moanaroa Pere appointed Henry Cheetham Jackson and Hetekia Te Kani Pere Trustees.

Hetekia Te Kani Pere died on 21 March 1925 and Henry Cheetham Jackson died on 7 April 1925. Moanaroa, the sole survivor of the assignors on 1 August 1925 appointed himself, Charles Alfred Smith and Heathcote Beetham Williams to be Trustees.

Moanaroa Pere died on 3 February 1935 and Messrs Smith and Williams expressed the wish to retire as Trustees.

The Governor General by Order in Council dated 2 March 1938 appointed Owen Neil Campbell, Rongowhakaata Halbert and Harold Walter Symes to be Trustees of the Trust.

By Section 15 of the Maori Purposes Act 1938 new Trusts were declared in respect of the property of the Trust, further powers were confirmed upon the Trustees and provision was made for the administration of the Trusts.

Since the passing of that Act various people have been appointed Trustees of the Trust namely Francis Herbert Bull, Robert Graham Dobson, Turiki Pere, Iho-O-Te-Rangi Halbert, Rangiwahipu Arapeta (also known as Rangiwahipu Halbert), Thomas Smiler, Nona Haronga (also known as Te Nonoikura or Hinemanuhiri Haronga) and Anthony Halbert. The last three being Trustees when the 1991 Amendment was enacted.

Nona Haronga wished to resign and was replaced by her son, Alan Parekura Torohina Haronga.

In 1991 new Trusts were declared in respect of the property of the Trust and the amendment conferred further powers on the Trustees.

The 1991 Amendment among other things:
  • Increased the number of Trustees to five those Trustees being Thomas Smiler, Anthony Halbert and Alan Haronga and two other Trustees appointed by the Minister of Maori Affairs on the recommendation of the three Trustees. Henry Lardelli and Albert Horsfall were appointed.
  • The Trustees were to hold office for three years.
  • All freehold land vested in the Trustees was deemed to be Maori freehold land
  • Only those related by blood to Wi Pere are entitled to be a beneficiary of the Trust
  • A person who is the spouse or adopted child of a beneficiary are only entitled to succeed to a life interest.