Occurrence and resolution of the Motunui-Waitara resource conflict (Wai-6)
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Science
This thesis examines the base causal mechanisms of the Motunui-Waitara resource conflict, which occurred in the early 1980s in North Taranaki, and resulted in a claim to the Waitangi Tribunal. Resource conflicts are complex social phenomena, based on disputes over the use, control, and allocation of resources. They occur as the result of both proximate causes (empirical, easily identified, site specific), and base causes (a 'wider status quo'). The resource conflict revolved around the grievances of the local iwi, over the discharge of effluent onto coastal reefs by the Waitara township, Borthwicks freezing works, the 'Synfuels' synthetic -petrol plant, and the Petralgas methanol plant. As social action, the resource conflict resulted from readily identifiable proximate causes, but also base causal mechanisms. The discharge of effluent, a proximate cause, reflected the causal 'wider status quo', which is analysed as comprising two parts. First, social organisation as a generalised framework of occurrence, where social relations between people nature and power are based on differentiation, the development of power relations, and the creation of imbalances. Secondly, context and place as a specific framework of occurrence, where the resource conflict was a result of two conflicting processes, economic and cultural transformation, which were reflected in a context of issues: energy; indigenous peoples; and environmental awareness. The conflict became the subject of an extremely significant claim to the Waitangi Tribunal. The process of resolution was highly contentious, taking ten years to provide one working marine outfall and land based treatment all the waste streams. During a similar timeframe there has been an attempt to remove what are perceived as base causal mechanisms through the fisheries Quota Management System, the Sealords deal, and the process of Resource Management Law Reform which resulted in the Resource Management Act 1991. Despite these processes there has not been effective resolution of the resource conflict, which requires the removal of all causes. A process of effective resolution is suggested, revolving around the 'principle of partnership and the notions of active protection, balancing priorities, rights and values. Finally, the Motunui-Waitara resource conflict although not finally resolved, has had a number of positive impacts, in Waitangi Tribunal operation, and in the changing focus, from management to control, of many Maori claims and Tribunal reports.