In 1996, the Auckland War Memorial Museum Act transferred the assets and governance of the Auckland Institute and the Auckland Museum to the Auckland Museum Trust Board. Paramount amongst their responsibilities is the trusteeship and guardianship of the Museum, and its extensive collections of treasures and scientific materials.

The Act sets out the obligations of the Trust Board and provides for sustained funding of the Museum by a levy on Auckland ratepayers. It also requires the Museum to actively supplement public funding with commercial activities.

One of the Trust Board's duties is to establish broad lines of policy for the guidance of the Director. Significant intended policies are published in the Annual Plan. These policies are called Governance Policies and the full versions of which are available to download.

The Act provides for a ten-Member Trust Board to be appointed by Auckland Council (five Members), the Auckland Museum Institute (four Members) and by the Māori advisory committee Taumata-ā-Iwi (one Member).

The Taumata-ā-Iwi is responsible for the provision of advice and assistance to the Trust Board in a series of matters set out in the Act. They act in a trustee role in representing the interests of Iwi and advising the Trust Board on matters of custodial policy and guardianship of Māori taonga of whatever kind and tribal sources. They are also required to advise the Trust Board on staffing, display and development policies.

The Act also requires the Museum to present Aotearoa New Zealand’s history (including the partnership envisaged by the Treaty of Waitangi), be Auckland’s war memorial and lead through innovation and partnership, whilst supplementing ratepayer funding by revenue-generating activities.