< August 2021 newsletter

Proposed biodiversity strategy - another opportunity to implement He Puapua

One of the recommendations in He Puapua consists of a joint sphere of management and governance of resources. This policy is being promoted in the government's Te Mana o te Taiao Aotearoa New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy. Te Mana o te Taiao is a 30-year plan to protect and restore New Zealand’s biodiversity, covering all domains – land, fresh water, estuaries and wetlands, and the marine environment from the coastline to the outer edges of the Exclusive Economic Zone and the extended continental shelf. This includes all land – public, private, and Māori-owned land.

The strategy involves upholding the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi, seeing this as an essential part of Te Mana o te Taiao, with treaty partners working together towards a shared vision for nature, and to ensure mātauranga Māori as well as rangatira (chief) and kaitiaki (guardian) obligations are actively protected.

The plan requires people at all levels  - central and local government, industry, non-government organisations, scientists, landowners, communities, and individuals - to partner with whānau, hapū, iwi in the protection and restoration of New Zealand’s biodiversity, and to ensure mātauranga Māori is elevated to an equal standing with other forms of knowledge.

Māori will lead the delivery of many biodiversity restoration projects, as well as and partnering with the government on decisions about taonga species and the land, sea, and waterways with which they associate.

A key objective is for mātauranga Māori to be invested in and have "equal mana to knowledge gained through other scientific disciplines and ways of seeing/understanding the world”. You could think of it as two equally sized spheres, coming together in partnership, with the protection and restoration of biodiversity at the centre. One sphere would represent whānau / hapū / iwi, and the other central government / local government / industry / non-government organisations (NGOs) / scientists, landowners / communities / individuals. This structure is a microcosm of the intention for the future governance of New Zealand, as proposed in both the He Puapua and Matike Mai reports.

The government is now requiring all Ministers to review those aspects of their portfolios that relate to the protection and promotion of biodiversity or that pose risks to biodiversity and ensure that the relevant government agencies are engaged in implementing Te Mana o te Taiao strategies. These include the Ministry for Primary Industries, Ministry for the Environment, Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Conservation, Land Information New Zealand (including the Overseas Investment Office), Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, plus Regional and Local Councils.

The next phase of strategy development will be to collaboratively design an implementation plan for 2021–2022.

Media coverage

RNZ: Mātauranga Māori to be equal to Western science in biodiversity plan, Te Mana o te Taiao

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