The Government is developing a whole-of-government approach to address the issues raised by the vast Wai 262 claim and the Waitangi Tribunal report, Ko Aotearoa Tēnei.

Wai 262 and a new approach

The contemporary Wai 262 claim considered who is entitled to make or participate in decisions affecting indigenous flora and fauna, the environment, Māori culture and the products of Māori culture. The accompanying Ko Aotearoa Tēnei report discusses many of these kaupapa and lays down a wero for the Crown and Māori to advance their relationship as Treaty partners in a positive and future-focussed way

A whole-of-government response to Wai 262 provides an opportunity to renew how we work effectively for all New Zealander’s to build an even better New Zealand we can all be proud of. This work has the potential to fuel innovation, strengthen national identity, and enhance our international reputation, as well as deliver direct benefits to Māori.


Next steps for Māori and the Crown

Budget 2020 allocated $6.5m over two years to support the initial stages of the Te Pae Tawhiti - Wai 262 work programme. This will enable Māori and the Crown to start work together to address issues raised through the Wai 262 claim and Ko Aotearoa Tēnei, delivering enduring economic, social, environmental, and cultural benefits for Aotearoa New Zealand.  

In August 2020, The Minister for Māori Development agreed to the next steps that Te Puni Kōkiri will focus on for the Wai 262 work programme. This will include:

  1. Developing a whole of Government Plan of Action
  2. supporting Māori to Māori conversations about partnering with the Crown
  3. exploring opportunities to raise the profile of the protection of Mātauranga Māori in international fora
  4. advancing opportunities for early progress

Key areas of work identified so far include:

  1. protecting Mātauranga Māori
  2. supporting kaitiakitanga towards taonga species

Māori engagement by Te Taumata Whakapūmau

Te Puni Kōkiri is closely working with Te Taumata Whakapūmau, the original Wai 262 claimants representative rōpū. The Minister for Māori Development has recognised that Te Taumata Whakapūmau play a kaitiaki role to ensure the integrity of the overall process in the establishment stage of joint work between Māori and the Crown.

Te Taumata Whakapūmau has developed a workplan for Māori led engagement to establish a National Māori Voice with the Crown on Wai 262 issues.  As part of this, Te Taumata Whakapūmau will establish a working group comprising representatives of a wide range of Māori interests. This group will drive engagement with wider whānau, hapū, iwi and Māori rōpū.

The Wai 262 inquiry

The Wai 262 claim was a Waitangi Tribunal claim lodged in 1991. It was called the ‘Wai 262’ claim as it was the 262nd claim lodged in the Waitangi Tribunal. It was also known as the ‘flora and fauna’ claim.

The claim was one of the largest and most complex in the Waitangi Tribunal’s history. It was the Waitangi Tribunal’s first ‘whole-of-government’ inquiry – examining the policy areas of more than 20 government departments and agencies.

The claim was a ‘contemporary’ claim. It focused mainly on the Crown’s existing laws, policies and practices instead of the Crown’s historical actions. The claim related to:

te tino rangatiratanga o te Iwi Māori in respect of indigenous flora and fauna me ō rātou taonga katoa (and all their treasures) including but not limited to mātauranga, whakairo, wāhi tapu, biodiversity, genetics, Māori symbols and designs and their use and development and associated indigenous cultural and customary heritage rights in relation to such taonga.

What did ‘taonga’ mean for the claimants?

For the claimants, ‘taonga’ encompassed all of the elements of a tribal group’s estate, ‘material and non-material, tangible and intangible’. They argued that tino rangatiratanga incorporated:

  1. Decision-making authority over the conservation, control of, and proprietorial interests in natural resources including indigenous flora and fauna me ō rātou taonga katoa
  2. The right to determine indigenous cultural and customary heritage rights in the knowledge and use of indigenous flora and fauna me ō rātou taonga katoa
  3. The right to participate in, benefit from, and make decisions about the application of existing and future technological advances as they relate to the breeding, genetic manipulation and other processes relevant to the use of indigenous flora and fauna
  4. The right to control and make decisions about the propagation, development, transport, study or sale of indigenous flora and fauna
  5. The right to protect, enhance and transmit the cultural, medicinal and spiritual knowledge and concepts found in the life cycles of indigenous flora and fauna
  6. A right to environmental well-being dependent upon the nurturing and wise use of indigenous flora and fauna
  7. The right to participate in, benefit from and make decisions about the application, development, uses and sale of me ō rātou taonga katoa
  8. The right to protect, enhance and transmit the cultural and spiritual knowledge and concepts found in me ō rātou taonga katoa.

Ko Aotearoa Tēnei

In 2011 the Tribunal released its report entitled ‘Ko Aotearoa Tēnei:  A Report into Claims Concerning New Zealand Law and Policy Affecting Māori Culture and Identity’, known as the ‘Wai 262 report’.  The Tribunal recommended changes to the Crown’s laws, policies and practices relating to intellectual property, indigenous flora and fauna, resource management, conservation, the Māori language, arts and culture, heritage, science, education, health, and the making of international instruments. 

The Tribunal has said that the objective of many of the proposed reforms was to establish genuine partnerships – including through the creation of new partnership bodies – in which the interests of Māori and other New Zealanders are fairly and transparently balanced.

The Government has decided to develop a whole-of-government approach to consider the issues raised by claimants and the Waitangi Tribunal in the Wai 262 inquiry.

Why the Government is doing this work

This Government recognises the time is right to discuss the long, outstanding issues raised by Wai 262 and Ko Aotearoa Tēnei.

An all-of-Government approach is needed to progress this kaupapa, which is an important part of strengthening the Māori-Crown relationship and for New Zealand as a nation.

This Government is focused on building an economy, community and services where Māori are able to lift their own wellbeing and reach their goals and aspirations – whether they are in education, health, employment, enterprise or kaitiakitanga.

Ko Aotearoa Tēnei is a pivotal report that highlights the opportunities and challenges we face as we move into a post-settlement era. The issues raised in the Wai 262 inquiry have also been raised frequently by Māori elsewhere, like in Treaty settlements, legislative reviews and other domestic forums. Many Māori have also raised the issues in international forums.

This Government considers that it’s time to take a more deliberate and coordinated approach to these issues. We’re picking up the wero laid by the Waitangi Tribunal for the Crown and Māori to come together and form new working relationships for the 21st Century. The work will contribute to the wider conversation about who we are as a nation, and who we want to be.

Targeted engagement with Māori specialists

Te Puni Kōkiri carried out targeted engagement with Māori technical experts, various Māori advisory boards, national Māori bodies and subject specialists from August to October 2019.

Feedback to Te Puni Kōkiri on the targeted engagement was cautiously positive about the proposed Crown structure. Most saw this process as an important first step, and an opportunity to refocus the relationship between Māori and the Crown, using the Wai 262: Te Pae Tawhiti work as a vehicle for working collaboratively together on what can be achieved.

Others said they wanted more time to engage and think about their specific issues before they could respond effectively.

Key themes from feedback to Te Puni Kōkiri included:

  • Providing clarity on what partnership means in practical terms, and enshrining a commitment to engaging Māori throughout the Wai 262 work
  • Ensuring an inclusive process which addresses issues that are relevant to all iwi and Māori
  • Maintaining the mana of the original claim and recognising the importance of the kaitiaki role of the representatives of the claimant rōpū
  • The Crown needs to ensure resources are available to both enable Māori engagement with the Crown and support Māori-to-Māori conversations
  • The Crown’s approach needs to be broad enough to support social and economic parity and the full range of Māori and Crown interests
  • More clarity is needed on the phasing and timeframes of the work.

Substantive feedback mostly focused on:

  • what the Crown would be doing and who it would be doing it with
  • the nature and quality of the future Māori-Crown relationship
  • allowing more time for Māori-to-Māori conversations and ongoing resource for Māori engagement.

You can read a copy of the Wai 262: Te Pae Tawhiti – targeted engagement report here.



Expected outcomes of Wai 262

As the report Ko Aotearoa Tēnei states, Wai 262 offers us a meaningful opportunity to take a different approach and work more effectively as government.

For this country to thrive economically and experience an increase in wellbeing, we need to work with iwi Māori to better protect taonga species, taonga works and indigenous knowledge (mātauranga Māori) to recognise and leverage their use in a manner that supports Māori aspirations.

This requires shared understanding about the value and uniqueness of where we have come from so we can work collaboratively together. A collaborative approach is all the more relevant in the current COVID-19 recovery context. 

The overall work programme is likely to involve a number of Government Ministers and agencies coming together to work alongside each other, Māori and the wider public over a number of years. The exact scope, phasing and timing of the work is still to be worked through.

How the Government is organising itself

At this stage the Government intends to organise itself around three broad kete of issues. The names for the kete or baskets draw on key terms that feature in the Ko Aotearoa Tēnei report.  

  1. Taonga Works me te Mātauranga Māori
  2. Taonga Species me te Mātauranga Māori
  3. Kawenata Aorere / Kaupapa Aorere (with an international focus) 

More information available here.

Potential work programme for each kete

Why has it taken the Crown so long to respond?

Wai 262 was one of the largest and most complex inquiries in the Waitangi Tribunal’s history. It was the Waitangi Tribunal’s first ‘whole-of-government’ inquiry, examining the policy areas of more than 20 government agencies. The Waitangi Tribunal took 20 years to issue its report, which it did in 2011.

This Government considers that too little has been done since the report was issued. We are committed to making progress on the issues raised in the inquiry and the report.

Hon Nanaia Mahuta’s 2018 Section 8I Report on the Crown’s progress implementing Waitangi Tribunal recommendations contained a feature section on the Wai 262 report. It provided a brief summary of the Waitangi Tribunal’s recommendations and what the Crown has done since it was released. The Section 8I Report showed clearly that more needs to be done in this area and this Government is committed making that happen.

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