Treasured relations: Towards partnership and the protection of Māori relationships with taonga plants in Aotearoa New Zealand (2022)
Type of ContentJournal Article
- Law: Journal Articles 
For more than three decades, the system of intellectual property for plants in Aotearoa New Zealand has been the subject of controversy. Critics claim that the system fails to fulfil the promises of the nation's founding document, Te Tiriti o Waitangi|The Treaty of Waitangi (1840), which guarantees that Māori will retain tino rangatiratanga (absolute sovereignty) over their taonga (treasured and significant) plant species. The 2021 Plant Variety Rights Bill aims to address this concern while also complying with international obligations that New Zealand undertook when it joined the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans‐Pacific Partnership (2018). Thus, the Bill endeavours to uphold the government's commitments under Te Tiriti and to give effect to the 1991 Act of the UPOV Convention. These plural and sometimes divergent goals manifest a deeper tension that underlies how legal systems in Aotearoa New Zealand conceptualise human relationships with nonhuman beings and environments. While a Pākehā (Western/European) approach to intellectual property conceives of plants as alienable economic objects, tikanga Māori (customary protocols and values) understands that like humans, plants possess mauri (lifeforce) and whakapapa (genealogy) that connect these beings with the environments they inhabit. This article explores how tensions between ontological, legal, and political systems imbue the Plant Variety Rights Bill. While the proposal represents a progressive reform, it may fall short of living up to its aspirations for authentic partnership between Māori and the Crown.
CitationJefferson D (2022). Treasured relations: Towards partnership and the protection of Māori relationships with taonga plants in Aotearoa New Zealand. The Journal of World Intellectual Property.
This citation is automatically generated and may be unreliable. Use as a guide only.
KeywordsAotearoa New Zealand; Indigenous knowledge; mātauranga Māori; multispecies relations; plant variety rights; political ontology
ANZSRC Fields of Research48 - Law and legal studies::4806 - Private law and civil obligations::480603 - Intellectual property law
48 - Law and legal studies::4802 - Environmental and resources law::480299 - Environmental and resources law not elsewhere classified
Ngā Upoko Tukutuku / Māori Subject HeadingsTure | Laws::Ture putaiao-ā-iwi | Environmental laws, International; International environmental laws
Pūtaiao | Science::Mātauranga huaota | Botany
Tikanga tuku iho | Values::Rangatiratanga | Chiefly authority
RightsAll rights reserved unless otherwise stated
Showing items related by title, author, creator and subject.
Treasured relations: Towards partnership and the protection of Māori relationships of with taonga plants in Aotearoa New Zealand Jefferson, David (Wiley, 2022)For more than three decades, the system of intellectual property for plants in Aotearoa New Zealand has been the subject of controversy. Critics claim that the system fails to fulfil the promises of the nation's founding ...
Intellectual Property, Traditional Knowledge, and Native Biodiversity: Convention and Progression in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Jefferson, David; Adhikari, Kamalesh (2021)The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (Trans-Pacific Partnership or Partnership) is a major multilateral trade agreement between Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, ...
Posthuman rights struggles and environmentalisms from below in the political ontologies of Ecuador and Colombia Coombe R; Jefferson, David (2021)In a decolonial determination to resist the modern ontological separation of nature from culture, political ontologies and posthuman legalities in Andean Community countries increasingly recognize natural and cultural ...