On 2 July 2011, the Waitangi Tribunal released its report on the Wai 262 claim relating to New Zealand’s law and policy affecting Māori culture and identity.
Ko Aotearoa Tēnei (‘This is Aotearoa’ or ‘This is New Zealand’) is the Tribunal’s first whole-of-government report, addressing the work of around 20 government departments and agencies and Crown entities.
It is also the first Tribunal report to consider what the Treaty relationship might become after historical grievances are settled, and how that relationship might be shaped by changes in New Zealand’s demographic makeup over the coming decades.
The report concerns one of the most complex and far-reaching claims ever to come before the Waitangi Tribunal. The Wai 262 claim is commonly known as the indigenous flora and fauna and cultural and intellectual property claim. As the report’s preface puts it:
the Wai 262 claim is really a claim about mātauranga Māori – that is, the unique Māori way of viewing the world, encompassing both traditional knowledge and culture. The claimants, in other words, are seeking to preserve their culture and identity, and the relationships that culture and identity derive from.
The report is divided into two levels, each of which is designed to be read independently: a shorter summary layer subtitled Te Taumata Tuatahi, which aims to be accessible to a general readership, and a fuller, two-volume layer subtitled Te Taumata Tuarua. Both layers have an introduction, eight thematic chapters and a conclusion.
The first volume of Te Taumata Tuarua introduces the report and contains its first four chapters. Chapter 1 considers the Māori interest in the works created by weavers, carvers, writers, musicians, artists, and others in the context of New Zealand’s intellectual property law, particularly copyright and trade marks.
Chapter 2 examines the genetic and biological resources of the flora and fauna with which Māori have developed intimate and long-standing relationships, and which are now of intense interest to scientists and researchers involved in bioprospecting, genetic modification, and intellectual property law, particularly patents and plant variety rights.
The next two chapters consider Māori interests in the environment more broadly, first in terms of the wide-ranging aspects of the environment controlled by the Resource Management Act (chapter 3), and then with regard to the conservation estate managed by the Department of Conservation (chapter 4).
The second volume of Te Taumata Tuarua contains the final four chapters of the report. Chapter 5 focuses on the Crown’s protection of te reo Māori (the Māori language) and its dialects, and considers in depth the current health of the language. A prepublication version of this chapter was released in October 2010.
Chapter 6 considers those agencies where the Crown owns, funds, or oversees mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge and ways of knowing) and is thus effectively in the seat of kaitiaki (cultural guardian). These agencies operate in the areas of protected objects, museums, arts funding, broadcasting, archives, libraries, education, and science.
Chapter 7 then examines the Crown’s support for rongoā Māori or traditional Māori healing. It also traverses the principal historical issue covered in the report, the passage and impact of the Tohunga Suppression Act 1907.
Chapter 8 addresses the Crown’s policies on including Māori in the development of New Zealand’s position concerning international instruments such as the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Each chapter ends with a brief summary of the Tribunal’s recommendations for reform, and a concluding chapter brings together its overall conclusions and recommendations.
An appendix provides a brief procedural history of the inquiry, outlining the origins and development of the claim, the claimants, the scope of the claim issues and the two rounds of hearings.
The report is available for purchase direct from the publishers, Legislation Direct (telephone (04 568 0005 or email) or it can be ordered through all good bookstores.
Download the media statement and summary factsheets:
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