News Item

August 2021

Ka Mapuna - Towards a Rangatiratanga Framework for Governance of Waterways

A recently-released report authored by Betsan Martin, Response Trust & the New Zealand Maori Council, with Linda te Aho, explored the complex issues of governance for waterways in New Zealand. This is a time of a wider shift towards appreciating water as the source of life and health for all. This research gives heightened attention to changes that are urgent.

The report states the proposed institutions for governance of waterways offer a gateway for further constitutionalising Te Tiriti o Waitangi. As rangatiratanga evolves it may take different institutional forms, some shaped by collaborative structures and some more autonomous, reflecting shared and overlapping interests, and our distinctive cultural, knowledge and governance histories.

It is nine years since the undertakings by the Crown in New Zealand Maori Council v Attorney-General to take forward the multiple aspects of mana whenua obligations to waterways and to provide restitution for the loss of economic opportunity and for loss of livelihood interests in water resources. Since then, Iwi Leaders have undertaken sustained engagement with the Crown and research to present options for resolution.

The implications of unextinguished customary ownership in waterways are yet to be realised but they give force to the case for recognising rangatiratanga in governance. The institutional and statutory provisions proposed through this research offer a legal and procedural system for k?wanatanga with rangatiratanga as a Te Tiriti o Waitangi framework and constitutional basis for Te Mana o Te Wai and Te Oranga o Te Taiao.

The researchers put forward six recommendations to address these complex issues, predominantly dealing with rangatiratanga being recognised in resource legislation and exploring the establishment of Te Mana o Te Wai Commission in a rangatiratanga framework (a co-governance body).

Download the full report here.

Download the executive summary here.

The Law Foundation provided up to $85,877 to support the research for this report.