Generally, when a couple separate they must divide their household items equally. These might be things like furniture, paintings, and appliances.
But if a household item is a taonga, it is exempt from division.
The law does not define taonga. How would you define taonga?
Sometimes, non-Māori people have claimed that property which is special to them should be a taonga. But some people think that taonga are Māori-specific.
The courts have said that non-Māori people can claim special property is a taonga but that we should understand taonga from a tikanga Māori perspective. This may mean that the item has elements of whakapapa, or particular significance or mana, within tikanga Māori. The taonga may also need to be presented in a marae-like setting and accompanied with korero.
What matters then is that the person who possesses the taonga exercises kaitiakitanga over it according to the wider whānau expectations.
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If the couple have a taonga in their possession that is not a household item, then the law does not prevent it from being divided if the partners separate.
Some people think that taonga should be excluded from division altogether regardless of whether it was a household item or not.
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