Publications: Research reports and publications

Māori and collaborative freshwater planning: emerging insights

20 February, 2015
Cawthron Report 2647. Prepared for the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment.


The entities, structures and practices through which Māori interact with the government and regional councils continue to evolve. The Treaty of Waitangi (Te Tiriti o Waitangi) of 1840 continues to underpin these relationships and the expectations of iwi and hapū today. This includes an expectation of an equal partnership in collaborative planning and decision-making, guided by the principles of the Treaty.

At the initiation of a collaborative planning process, Māori should be invited to exercise the co-governance role of Treaty partner by joining the council as a co-sponsor of the process. In this role, they would be involved in the selection of members, setting the terms of reference, ensuring opportunities for those not in the room, and empowering others by implementing robust outcomes reached through consensus.

In collaborative planning, Māori should be represented by as many or as few individuals as necessary to represent their values, perspectives and interests, while maintaining relativity with other interests.

Māori interests should not be pigeon-holed as ‘cultural values’, for this encompasses a broad range of ecological, social and economic values that are shared by many non-Māori.

Māori have unique rights and interests arising from the Treaty relationship, which can be identified as the basis for outcomes sought in a collaborative process.

Collaborative processes will not always be the best way to give effect to the Treaty. In some cases, tangata whenua may prefer to deal directly with the council through traditional decision-making processes.