SCANZ 2013: Decision making at the Interface – Mauri and its contribution to the Rena Recovery

Authors: Te Kipa Kepa Brian Morgan, Tumanako N. Fa’Aui and Robyn Desma Manuel


Throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s, a consistent theme of indigenous opposition reported by the Waitangi Tribunal introduces a spiritual and cultural perspective of environment that hitherto had not been considered in resource management decision making in Aotearoa New Zealand. Earlier claims made to the Waitangi Tribunal; Motunui, Kaituna, Manukau, Orakei, concerned themselves with engineering projects that were denigrating the water ecosystems and environment. Indigenous concepts raised in the Tribunal hearings for these cases included; the retention of intrinsic values / mauri; ‘Māori’ spiritual and cultural values; kaitiakitanga and manākitanga; and nga whakatipuranga / future generations of descendants.

These early claims accumulated as a series of abandoned engineering projects that represented a significant waste of engineering effort, expended with an inadequate understanding of the full social and cultural context within which these projects were being proposed. There were also significant costs for the Hapū and Iwi forced to delay other commitments to challenge poorly thought through projects. Settlements for these successful Treaty claims made necessary the introduction of legislation that incorporated the lessons being provided from Indigenous Knowledge / mātauranga Māori.

The Mauri Model acknowledges the valuable insights embodied in mātauranga Māori, and indicates how diametrically opposed cultural perspectives can be better recognised and engaged, even synthesised to facilitate better resource management decision making. This paper shows how the Recovery of the mauri to its pre-Rena state can be facilitated through the combination of scientific and indigenous knowledge, and can produce decisions that are robust and defendable from multiple perspectives.