Ngā kōrero a ngā poupou o te whare : how to improve Crown and local authority-initiated environmental planning engagement, from the perspectives of Ngāi Tahu environmental kaitiaki.
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In large tracts of Te Waipounamu, the Crown and Local Authorities are required by legislation to engage with Ngāi Tahu on environmental planning matters. In turn, Ngāi Tahu are often morally bound to participate in these engagement processes due to their roles as environmental kaitiaki. Unfortunately, coloniality permeates these processes, and often creates frustration and dissatisfaction for these kaitiaki.
This research investigates the lived experiences of Ngāi Tahu environmental kaitiaki to understand their perceptions of Crown and Local Authority-initiated engagement. These perceptions are then analysed to provide recommendations for Crown and Local Authorities on what constitutes best practice mana whenua engagement on environmental planning matters within the Ngāi Tahu takiwā. This research adopts a Braided Rivers approach incorporating Qualitative Research, specifically Narrative Inquiry, and Kaupapa Māori Research into its methodology. Face to face, semi- structured interviews are used to understand the experiences of ten Ngāi Tahu environmental kaitiaki who have extensive experience engaging with Crown and Local Authorities on environmental planning matters. In these interviews, kaitiaki reflect on their positive and negative engagement experiences, as well as their perceptions on what best practice mana whenua engagement looks like in the context of environmental planning.
Three themes are identified from these interviews. The first is the importance of kaitiaki being treated as genuine team members in collaborative planning settings alongside Crown and Local Authorities. Second is the importance of Crown and Local Authorities recognising, incorporating, and appropriately resourcing mātauranga and tikanga Māori in environmental planning and its engagement processes. Third is how vitally important it is for planning practitioners to be culturally competent and informed of Ngāi Tahu history and values. These themes are further analysed to provide five recommendations for planning practitioners wanting to engage with Ngāi Tahu in a best practice manner. These recommendations are centred around the principles of proactive research, early and on-going engagement, appropriate resourcing, recognising mana whenua as experts, and hui protocol.
Lastly, the existence of deeper issues within the New Zealand planning system are touched on. The concepts of humility, awareness, and commitment are discussed in this context, with attention drawn to their relationship with the concept of coloniality. It is recommended that further research be undertaken to better understand how these concepts are promoted within the New Zealand planning system, and how they can be promoted for the betterment of Treaty Partner relationships within between Crown and Local Authorities, and mana whenua.