The whole-of-government response to the Wai 262 claim provides an opportunity to improve how we work effectively with and for Māori, to build a thriving Aotearoa for all.
Last updated: Friday, 18 August 2023 | Rāmere, 18 Hereturikōkā, 2023
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A new approach to growing our culture
Aotearoa’s unique culture and identity has been built over hundreds of years. This includes our relationship with our environment and intergenerational knowledge of our country. This point of difference provides significant potential for economic, cultural and environmental growth.
Mātauranga Māori is a central component of te ao Māori and a major part of our national identity. Te Pae Tawhiti, led by Te Puni Kōkiri, considers how we can best realise the benefits of our national identity for Māori and all of Aotearoa New Zealand.
Te Pae Tawhiti addresses the Wai 262 claim, which looked at the Government’s role in relation to mātauranga Māori. The Wai 262 report Ko Aotearoa Tēnei found the Government needs to take significant steps to address the issues it highlighted. This will take time, as these issues are complex.
What is Te Pae Tawhiti?
Te Pae Tawhiti has a programme of work called Te Tumu mō te Pae Tawhiti that lays foundations for realising our national identity's potential. It includes 11 high priority and widespread focus areas, and nine smaller focus areas already underway. The focus areas will utilise cross-agency collaboration and more clearly fulfil the Wai 262 claim aspirations. This will allow for tangible outcomes that will benefit Māori and Aotearoa New Zealand more broadly.
Programme priorities include establishing a domestic bioprospecting regime, a Māori-Crown partnership-based system for mātauranga Māori, strengthening Māori involvement in international agreement-making and measuring progress in these areas.
Te Puni Kōkiri continues to lead Te Pae Tawhiti, using a cross-coordination approach with key agencies, rōpū Māori and relevant experts to ensure policies are achievable and deliver improved outcomes alongside Māori.
Māori engagement by Te Taumata Whakapūmau
Te Puni Kōkiri is closely working with Te Taumata Whakapūmau, the original Wai 262 claimants’ representative rōpū. This recognises the kaitiaki role Te Taumata Whakapūmau hold to ensure the integrity of the establishment stage process between Māori and the Crown.
Te Taumata Whakapūmau is coordinating a national engagement strategy (Kanohi Ora). The Wai 262 Kanohi Ora Engagement is connecting local iwi at a national and international level, focusing on the next steps of the claim. In August 2021, a Wai 262 Symposium was held. This was the first hui led by the Wai 262 representative rōpū, which saw 400 people register to attend, 9,600 collective streams and a reach of 15,300 views on social media platforms.
What is Wai 262?
Wai 262 is the 262nd claim registered with the Waitangi Tribunal, lodged in 1991 by six claimants on behalf of themselves and their iwi. The claim examined the Crown’s policies and laws that impact indigenous knowledge (mātauranga Māori) and taonga, including indigenous flora and fauna, the environment, Māori culture and the products of Māori culture.
The contemporary Wai 262 claim is one of the most complex and far-reaching in the 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 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.
The issues raised in the Wai 262 claim have also been frequently raised by Māori elsewhere, including in Treaty settlements, legislative reviews and other domestic and international forums. Although the claim was lodged by specific claimants, it is the desire of ‘iwi katoa’ to protect and preserve their mātauranga and taonga.
The progression of Wai 262
In July 2011, the Waitangi Tribunal released a pivotal report titled Ko Aotearoa Tēnei, that highlights the opportunities and challenges Māori face in moving into a post-settlement era. Specifically, Ko Aotearoa Tēnei recommended vast policy and legislation reforms relating to health, education, science, intellectual property, indigenous flora and fauna, resource management, conservation, te reo Māori, arts, culture, heritage, Māori involvement in international legal documents that affect Māori rights. Ko Aotearoa Tēnei lays down a wero for Māori and the Crown to advance their relationship as Treaty partners in a positive and future-focussed way.
An annual report on the Crown's implementation of Waitangi Tribunal recommendations titled the 2018 ‘Section 8I Report’ contained a feature section on the Wai 262 claim that highlighted what the Crown has done since Ko Aotearoa Tēnei. There has been important progress in the Government’s approach to the protection, use and development of mātauranga Māori and other taonga. Some examples include the revitalisation of Te Reo Māori through Te Ture mō te Reo Māori and taonga species protections including Resource Management Act reforms, and the Plant Variety Rights Bill. However, the report also clearly showed that more needs to be done and this Government is committed to making that happen.
In 2019, Te Pae Tawhiti established across-agency governance structure and Ministerial Oversight groups that focused on three broad kete of issues to drive cross-agency collaboration. Since then, there has been considerable progress on the ground that has continued to help us to understand what is working and what is not working. As the Government pivots to respond to COVID-19, we have moved away from those arrangements. This has provided us with an opportunity to refocus the approach to opportunities and issues relating to the protection, use and development of mātauranga Māori and taonga by taking a more practical and consistent approach.
As Ko Aotearoa Tēnei states, Wai 262 provides the Crown with an opportunity to take a different approach and work more effectively as a government in the protection, use and development of mātauranga Māori and other taonga.
Te Pae Tawhiti seeks to create sustainable economic opportunities based on our unique place in the world, enhance cultural identity, and protect and restore the wellbeing of our environment.
The cross-agency work programme for Te Pae Tawhiti will put in place the foundations needed to promote innovation relating to mātauranga Māori and ensure the benefits of its utilisation and protection are realised by Māori and all of Aotearoa. Striking the right balance between providing protection and enabling the use of mātauranga Māori, while advancing a positive Māori-Crown relationship remains a core focus of Te Pae Tawhiti.
The overall work programme is likely to extend over several years and will require commitment from a range of Ministers and government agencies coming together to work alongside each other, Māori, and the wider public.