Teacher's notes

People's appraisal and use of resources depends on their culture, environment, social systems, values, and technology, as well as their economic and political ideology.

When two cultures come into contact with each other, their different views and use of resources may cause problems. Contact with other cultures can also change how much a resource is valued and the way in which it is used.

When the Treaty of Waitangi was signed, Maori people had control of their resources but in most cases this control has not been retained.

The Motunui–Waitara claim heard by the Waitangi Tribunal in 1982 was about the cultural, spiritual, and economic importance of a natural resource - seafood - to the Te Atiawa people of Taranaki. The lack of control they had over the resource (despite the signing of the Treaty), the pollution problems that had arisen since the arrival of another culture, and the new technology available were all closely examined.

This kit is organised to emphasise the importance of cultural perceptions and respecting and supporting values stemming from different cultures. It is designed to encourage pupils to think about the issues involved in the management of New Zealand's natural resources.

The suggested steps are only one way in which the resource can be used. Schools which trialled the resource found that it provided enough material for two or three lessons.

Some words may need to be explained or discussed before you start; for example, 'hapu', 'resource', 'effluent', 'environmental standards', and 'water regulations'.

Step 1

The pupils read (or the teacher reads aloud) section 1 and discuss the following:

  • Why is seafood important to Te Atiawa? (The answer should cover the cultural, spiritual, and economic importance of seafood to Te Atiawa.)
  • How important is seafood to the pupils' culture? (This question will be influenced by the number of different ethnic groups represented in the class.)
  • How have Te Atiawa conserved their seafood resource over the years?
  • Why do the pupils think these systems or 'cultural rules' might have come into being?

This can be done as a class discussion.

Step 2

The pupils read (or the teacher reads aloud) section 2, and then they are asked to think about what recommendations they might have made to the Government if they had been members of the Waitangi Tribunal.

Some questions that can be used to prepare pupils are:

  • How badly were Te Atiawa affected by the discharge of pollution into their traditional fishing grounds? (Do a 'values line': get students to stand along a line which goes from 'very badly affected' through to 'not affected at all'.)
  • Te Atiawa have been badly affected because they have lost certain things. What have Te Atiawa lost? The answers should include:
    • the use of the reefs for the gathering of seafood;
    • mana, because they can no longer provide seafood generously for their guests; and
    • control over their resource, because they are not consulted before decisions are made that affect their reefs.
  • What did the Treaty of Waitangi promise all Maori people?
  • Why did the pollution of Te Atiawa's fishing grounds not follow the intentions of the Treaty of Waitangi?


Divide the class into groups. Each group is the Waitangi Tribunal and each pupil in a group is a member of the Tribunal. (The Waitangi Tribunal is a commission of inquiry. The job of the Tribunal members is to discover all the facts about a claim, present their findings in the form of a report, and, when appropriate, make recommendations to the Government about what should be done.)

Each group should:

  • select a spokesperson;
  • study the illustration showing the different representatives who appeared before the Waitangi Tribunal to explain their case and
  • re-read what each representative said.

Then, the groups should decide what recommendations they would make to the Government to solve the problems so that:

  • the pollution of the reefs stops;
  • Syngas and Petralgas do not have to close down;
  • Te Atiawa regain control of their reefs; and
  • New Zealand's fishing laws do not go against the Treaty of Waitangi.

Each group should present their recommendations to the class and say why they made them.

Step 3

The pupils should read (or the teacher read aloud) section 3 and discuss:

  • the differences and similarities between their recommendations and those of the Waitangi Tribunal;
  • whether everyone who appeared before the Waitangi Tribunal was happy with its recommendations;
  • why some people may have been happy with the recommendations and others may have been unhappy with them;
  • if compromises were made, what they were, who made them, and why they were necessary; and
  • what the Crown (the Government) did to put things right for Te Atiawa.

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