Empowering Māori to improve ecosystem management in Aotearoa

Law book. Credit: University of Waikato

Sustainable Seas researchers have outlined ways to enable and empower Māori to lead the sustainable management of resources in Aotearoa New Zealand.

The 2018 report, written by Dr Robert Joseph and his team from the University of Waikato, compares how tikanga Māori and Western legal systems are applied to environmental management. The report highlights the need for more inclusive and better resource management policies, practices and laws that enable the accurate application of tikanga and mātauranga Māori to the governance and management of the country’s land-based and marine ecosystems.

Dr Joseph and his team explains in the report that the emphasis should be on power-sharing arrangements that are “suitable for Māori, suitable for the environment and therefore suitable for the nation”.

They add that adopting and adapting ecosystem-based management (EBM) to incorporate tikanga Māori will help the socio-political system and will improve the environment for future generations.

The EBM principles proposed by the Sustainable Seas National Science Challenge place tikanga Māori at the forefront of decision-making. In this way, EBM aspires to include authentic Treaty of Waitangi partnerships that value indigenous perspectives and would make New Zealand a global leader in sustainable ecosystem management.

The report moreover discusses the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA), and other statutes, regulations and initiatives, and the environmental, political and cultural challenges they raise. With the RMA currently under review, Dr Joseph and his team suggests that it should be amended to ensure that local authorities and decision-makers act in a way that is consistent with the Treaty of Waitangi. 

The report also provides examples of co-governance partnerships, like those intended by the Treaty of Waitangi Settlements for Te Urewera National Park and the Whanganui River that have successfully integrated EBM and Māori resource management and governance.

To find out more, download the report The Treaty, Tikanga Māori, Ecosystem-Based Management, Mainstream Law and Power Sharing for Environmental Integrity in Aotearoa New Zealand – Possible Ways Forward,  Dr Robert Joseph, Mylene Rakena, Mary Kuini Jones, Dr Rogena Sterling & Celeste Rakena,  Te Mata Hautū Taketake – the Māori and Indigenous Governance Centre, University of Waikato, 30 November 2018.

Date posted: 22/02/2019

Programme type: Tangaroa

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