Indigenous Māori values and perspectives to inform freshwater management in Aotearoa-New Zealand

TitleIndigenous Māori values and perspectives to inform freshwater management in Aotearoa-New Zealand
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsHarmsworth, G.
Secondary AuthorsAwatere, S.
Tertiary AuthorsRobb, M.
JournalEcology and Society

In response to widespread water quality and quantity issues, the New Zealand Government has recently embarked on a number of comprehensive freshwater management reforms, developing a raft of national discussion and policy documents such as “Freshwater Reform 2013 and Beyond” and a National Policy Statement for freshwater management (NPS-FM 2014). Recent resource management reforms and amendments (RMA 2014), based on previous overarching resource management legislation (RMA 1991), set out a new approach and pathway to manage freshwater nationwide. Internationally, there is an increasing trend to engage with indigenous communities for research and collaboration, including indigenous groups as active participants in resource management decision making. What is driving this change toward more engagement and collaboration with indigenous communities is different for each country, and we document the progress and innovation made in this area in New Zealand. The indigenous rights of Māori in New Zealand are stated in the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi and in many forms of New Zealand's legislation. Local and central governments are eager to include local indigenous Māori groups (iwi/hapū) in freshwater management planning processes through meaningful engagement and collaboration. Key to the success of collaborative planning processes for Māori are enduring relationships between local government and Māori, along with adequate resourcing for all partners contributing to the collaborative process. A large number of shared governance and management models for natural resource management have emerged in New Zealand over the past 20 years, and some recent examples are reviewed. We provide some discussion to improve understanding and use of the terms used in these management models such as cogovernance, comanagement, and coplanning, and describe some of the more important frameworks and tools being developed with Māori groups (e.g., iwi/hapū), to strengthen Māori capacity in freshwater management and to support good collaborative process and planning.