Wai 262: Te Pae Tawhiti

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.

Minister for Māori Development, Hon Nanaia Mahuta announced the Government’s potential Wai 262 work programme at the Iwi Chairs Forum on 28 August in Heretaunga. 

Wai 262 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.

The time is right

The Government is committed to making progress on Wai 262 issues and wants to embark on a fresh approach to address these important issues for all New Zealanders. It also recognises the aspirations of Māori seeking to innovate and develop what is unique to Māori. This work has the potential to fuel innovation, strengthen national identity, and enhance our international reputation, as well as deliver direct benefits to Māori.

This forward-looking perspective places work on Wai 262 within the project of nation-building. The time is right to discuss these important kaupapa and the Government is starting with targeted engagement with various Māori technical experts, Māori advisory boards and national Māori bodies. These conversations will help shape how the Government approaches this work and how Māori and the Crown can engage together on this significant kaupapa.

What was 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 is the Government 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.

What is the Government planning to do?

The Government’s first step was to hold initial discussions with representatives of the original Wai 262 claimants. This is being followed by targeted engagement with Māori technical experts, various Māori advisory boards, national Māori bodies and subject specialists in 2019. This will help shape how Government approaches this work and how we engage with Māori and the wider public on this significant kaupapa.

The initial discussions are intended to take place from September to October 2019. 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.

The Government will be seeking views on how it intends to organise itself to engage with iwi/hapū and the wider public on this kaupapa. The Government also wants input on how it can help support Māori to engage with each other and with the Government on these wide-ranging issues.


What are the 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.

How is the Government organising itself on this kaupapa?

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) 

A number of portfolio Ministers would oversee the work in each area. The Government also intends to create a Ministerial Oversight Group to oversee the work programme as a whole and consider cross-cutting issues.

Potential work programme for each kete

Is all of this set in stone?

No. This is our initial thinking on how we might develop a whole of Government approach. Our thinking is likely to evolve through the initial discussions in September and October 2019 and the further conversations with Māori and the wider public as this work progresses.

A paper confirming or modifying the proposed structure and the work-streams within each kete is planned to go to Cabinet by the end of 2019. This paper will also address possible next steps in developing a coordinated and consistent approach across Wai 262 issues, and next steps in furthering a partnership conversation between the Crown and Māori.

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.

Why is the Government making this announcement now?

Cabinet agreed in April to undertake targeted engagement on the Wai 262. The Government first wanted to acknowledge the original claimants who had the foresight to lodge the Wai 262 claim in 1991 for the benefit of te iwi Māori. Minister Mahuta carried out initial engagement with representatives of the original claimants as a first step, before beginning the targeted engagement.

How will this affect the Government’s wider work programme?

A number of current and upcoming work streams involve issues raised in the Wai 262 inquiry and report. This new initiative will enable the Government to consider the issues in a consistent and coordinated manner.

Timeframe for progressing Wai 262

Recently completed

April 2019

  • Cabinet agrees to develop an all-of-government approach to Wai 262 issues.

July 2019

  • Minister for Māori Development, Minister Mahuta meets with the representatives of the original Wai 262 claimants.

Current phase

August 2019

  • Minister for Māori Development begins the targeted engagement at the Iwi Chairs Forum.

September - October 2019

  • Targeted engagement continues on the preliminary proposals for Crown organisation. 

November - December 2019

  • An updated paper is expected to Cabinet, which includes a review of proposals for Crown organisation in light of feedback, and what the next steps are.

Share your views

You can share your views on the Crown’s initial proposals for organising itself by sending us an email to: wai262@tpk.govt.nz. More information available here

Issues you may want to comment on include how the Government should prioritise and undertake this work; whether the Crown’s proposal makes sense from a Māori perspective and whether there are other issues or work you think the Crown should consider.

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