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Māori knowledge and the Resource Management Act

Māori knowledge and the Resource Management Act

Principal investigator: Dr Janet Stephenson

Staff involved: Janet Stephenson, Lisa Kanawa

Brief abstract

This research project is operated through the Cawthron Institute, and involves CSAFE as a subcontractor.

The project tackles some of the frustrations Maori have experienced with the Resource Management Act process. In resource consent situations, Maori values are often not recognised as being as 'real' or as legitimate as scientific knowledge, and hearings can be uncomfortable and frustrating for tangata whenua. The project's overall research aim is to promote practical tools for applicants, tangata whenua, and council staff, so that a safe and respectful situation is created for sharing and hearing Maori concerns and values, and so that councils are better prepared to respond appropriately to this knowledge.

The project is now in its second year. Year One was spent investigating the nature of the problem, including interviews of stakeholders, research into current guidance on the matter, and a review of how the Environment Court deals with evidence from Maori. For Year Two, we will record the experiences of tangata whenua, council staff, and applicants who have been involved in 'win-wins' – that is, resource consent outcomes where Maori concerns have been respectfully taken into account, and where all parties have been happy with the final outcome.

The information will be used in two ways: Firstly, to understand the combination of circumstances and techniques that lead to a win-win; and secondly, to use the stories to illustrate success in the guidance material that is to be produced from this project.