Tangata whenua

Title: Launch of the Te Uri o Hau Environmental Plan 2012.

Tangata whenua and the environment

Ko te whakapapa tēnei

Mo ngā taonga tuku iho a Io Matua Kore

Ka moe a Papatūānuku ia Ranginui

Ka puta Ko Tanemahuta, ko Tangaroa

Ko Tāwhirimatea, ko Tūmatauenga,

Ko Haumie-tiketike Me Rongomatane

Ko ēnei ngā taonga tuku iho o rātou ma

Ko mātou ngā kaitiaki mo ēnei taonga.


Genealogy recites for us our divine Inheritance,

Through the union of Earth Mother and Sky Father

Who gave birth to our resources

And entrusted their care into our hands,

The land and the sea

The forests and the birds,

The animals and plants,

All these treasures, bestowed upon us as nurturers…

To sustain the people.

This statement highlights the cultural perspective of tangata whenua on the importance of the natural resources of Northland and links Māori to Papatūānuku and Ranginui through genealogy. For Māori, this link shows that they are part of a complete living system. The close attachment of tangata whenua to their ancestral lands and resources stems from the belief in their common origins and from occupation of the land and use, and establishes tribal identity and continuity.

Tangata whenua have a holistic approach to the management of the environment and its resources. Sections 6, 7 and 8 of the Resource Management Act underpin their values, perspectives and traditions in this regard. Due to this, the council aims to provide opportunities for their involvement in council processes and the management of natural and physical resources.

The council provides funding to support tangata whenua to undertake monitoring projects and to also develop environmental planning documents, to assist it in its role of providing for the relationship of Māori with the environment.

Tangata whenua in Northland

Northland – commonly referred to as Te Tai Tokerau – has nine iwi whose tribal boundary falls either partially or entirely within Te Tai Tokerau; Te Aupōuri, Ngāti Kuri, Ngāti Kahu, Te Rarawa, Ngāi Takoto, Ngāti Kahu/Ngāpuhi ki Whaingaroa, Ngāpuhi, Ngātiwai and Ngati Whātua (Figure 24).

Two treaty settlements have been legislated for – Te Uri o Hau Claims Settlement Act 2002 and the Te Roroa Claims Settlement Act 2008. These take in an area from Ōmāpere in the north to Poutō in the south, across to Mangawhai.

As of July 2012, four Deeds of Settlement had been agreed to between iwi and the Crown with two having been through the ratification process with their respective iwi constituents. One of these Deeds of Settlement has reached its second reading as a Bill before parliament.

The three remaining (one ratified, two working through ratification) are Deeds of Settlement which have been agreed to with Far North iwi of the Te Hiku settlement (consisting of five iwi).

Figure 24: Map of Tai Tokerau Iwi

Figure 24: Map of Tai Tokerau Iwi.  

(Source: Te Puni Kokiri, Te Kahui Mangai)

What do we want for tangata whenua involvement in the management of natural and physical resources?

The operative Regional Policy Statement for Northland details council and community objectives for each natural and physical resource in our region. These sections also include those issues that relate to tangata whenua in regards to the particular resource.

The tangata whenua section of the policy statement differs from other chapters in that it is not a resource area, albeit people are part of the environment. Rather, this section looks at the relationship of Māori with the natural environment and how opportunities are provided for them to be involved in the management of natural and physical resources of the region. It therefore does not have ‘anticipated environmental results' as a measure.

The Regional Policy Statement objective for tangata whenua says:

• Involvement of tangata whenua in the management of the natural and physical resources of the region.

What is being done?

Iwi management plans

Malcolm Nicolson (left) with Mihi Kapa-Watene at the launch of the Te Uri o Hau Environmental Plan 2012. Malcolm Nicolson CEO, Northland Regional Council (left) with Mihi Kapa-Watene at the launch of the Te Uri o Hau Environmental Plan 2012.

Iwi Management Plan is a common term used to describe resource management plans prepared by iwi, iwi authorities, rūnanga, or hapū (Refer www.qualityplanning.org.nz).

For the purposes of the Resource Management Act, councils are required to: "…take into account any relevant planning document recognised by an iwi authority". Section 2 of the Act describes an iwi authority as: "…the authority which represents an iwi and which is recognised by that iwi as having authority to do so."

Such plans provide an overview about the particular group, who they are, a brief historical account and clearly outline their rohe (area of interest). They also provide an outline of cultural values and interests of tangata whenua in relation to natural and physical resources. This then informs council and others about the impact a proposed activity might have on a resource.

Iwi planning documents are a means to better understand what is important to iwi and/or hapū and are a good conduit for involving tangata whenua in the management of the region's resources. However, these documents should not take the place of consultation; rather they should inform the process.

The council maintains a register and copies of relevant iwi planning documents that have been presented to council. It also has funding available to assist tangata whenua in preparing the environmental component of their respective plans.

Table 4: List of iwi websites and planning documents held by the Northland Regional Council

Iwi authority Website Document
Te Aupōuri www.teaupouri.iwi.nz  
Ngāti Kuri www.ngatikuri.iwi.nz  
Ngāti Kahu www.ngatikahu.iwi.nz  
Te Rarawa www.terarawa.co.nz  
Ngāi Takoto www.ngaitakotoiwi.co.nz  
Te Rūnanga o Whaingaroa www.whaingaroa.iwi.nz Iwi Resource Management Plan 2011
Ngāpuhi www.ngapuhi.iwi.nz Ngāti Rehia Environmental Management Plan, 2007
Ngāti Kuta Ki Te Rawhiti Hapū Management Plan, second edition
Ngā Tikanga mo te Taiao o Ngāti Hine, 2008
Kororareka Marae Environmental Hapū Management Plan, 2009
Draft Ngati Korokoro, Ngati Whaarare me Te Pouka: Hapū Environmental Management Plan, 2006
Ngāti Wai www.ngatiwai.iwi.nz Te Iwi o Ngātiwai Iwi Environmental Policy Document, Ngātiwai Trust Board, 2007
Ngātiwai Aquaculture Plan, June 2005
Patuharakeke Te Iwi Trust Board Environmental Plan, 2007
Draft Te Whānau o Rangiwhakahu Iwi Management Plan (withdrawn by Ngātiwai Trust Board)
Ngati Whātua ngatiwhatua.iwi.nz Te Uri o Hau Kaitianga o Te Taiao 2012
Draft Ngā Ture mo Te Taiao o Te Roroa: Te Roroa Iwi Environmental Policy Document, 2008


The council has an annual fund which aims to provide Māori with the opportunity to undertake monitoring projects within Northland. This contestable fund has an annual allocation of $15,000. In the past council has funded projects such as macroinvertebrate and water quality, kokako monitoring and shellfish surveys.

During 2011/12 the council helped with funding and staff time to assist a group in the Far North to undertake water and shellfish testing for heavy metals and Ecoli. Both of these issues where of significance to this group. The testing was complimentary to testing undertaken with the group some five years earlier.

The council also continues to support the Integrated Kaipara Harbour Management Group with staff resource and funding. This group is led by Te Uri o Hau, a hapū of Ngāti Whātua.

Information provision

The council actively participates in the regional Iwi / Local Government Chief Executive Forum where local and regional issues of significance are discussed. For example, regional council projects such as the Long term Plan and the Regional Policy Statement, Broadband and the National Secondary Schools Kapa Haka Festival were all projects that gained traction through this regional group.

Council retains its policy of circulating all resource consent applications to interested marae, hapū and iwi on its database. This is over and above the requirement to circulate all notified applications to the two groups with treaty settlement legislation.

Purongo Putaiao is the council panui which is circulated to those Māori groups on the council's database. The panui outlines activities of interest to Māori as well as advising them of any current council projects such as the Regional Policy Statement review or representation review processes. The panui encourages participation in council projects and provides the relevant information to do so.

The council will also hold workshops where and when requested for groups to either update them on council process and policy, changes to relevant legislation or any other matter relating to council business that a group maybe interested in.

Other involvement

The council encourages tangata whenua involvement in the management of Northland's natural and physical resources by:

• Formalised Memorandum of Understanding with Te Uri o Hau Settlement Trust and council.

• Appropriate recognition of treaty settlement legislation and active participation where and when required in pre-settlement negotiations

• Providing for Māori representation on two of council's committees.

• Undertaking specific Māori consultation processes relating to resource management plans and/or by-laws.

Current state of iwi planning documents

The development of iwi planning documents has been sporadic and as such, this has not been an effective means of involving tangata whenua in the management of natural and physical resources.

There is also a differing perception as to what a plan should contain and this, along with their sporadic development, has made it difficult for council to advance a consistent approach to planning processes that takes into account tangata whenua concerns and issues.

However, the regional council has extensively used the documents it does hold throughout the early stages of developing the new Draft Regional Policy Statement. It also has a system whereby, if an application for consent is in an area where there is a relevant planning document, a flag is raised on the actual record requiring staff to take the relevant plan into account when processing the application.


Monitoring projects have to align with council's overall work programme. At times the fund and criteria can be too limiting as to the scope of projects funded and the capacity of groups to meet council's stringent criteria.

Council has in the past been keen to work collaboratively with groups to ensure they are able to access the funding. However, council could also look at the scope and criteria for funding so that more projects are funded.

The Integrated Kaipara Harbour Management Committee continues to be supported by council. In addition to this, through the memorandum between council and Te Uri o Hau, the groups are actively working together at a governance level to look at and consider more synergies across those with planning responsibilities for the harbour.

Information provision

The Chief Executive Officer continues to attend the regional council/iwi CEO's forum. It is through this forum that the regional policy statement team was able to engage the Iwi Technicians Forum to assist in the pre-planning stages of this regionally significant document.

It also saw this council commit funding to the hosting committee of the National Secondary Schools' Kapa Haka Competition with the view of working more collaboratively with the organising committee should they wish to, to express an interest in the hosting rights for the National adults' competition, Te Matatini.

Sharing of information

The council's panui, Purongo Putaiao, the circulation of all resource consent applications to groups and access to technical staff for information and/or workshops continues to be appreciated by tangata whenua and recognised as being a core foundation of a relationship.

Other involvement

During 2012, the Memorandum of Understanding between Te Uri o Hau and council was updated and reaffirmed at a ceremony held in Whāngārei. This builds on the commitment to work together to find better synergies across the planning functions of the councils with statutory obligations which impact on the management of the harbour.

Over a number of years, council has taken an active role in the formation of possible redress mechanisms as resolutions for treaty settlements for the iwi in the Far North. This has culminated in the establishment of a Statutory Board for Te Oneroa a Tohe (90 Mile Beach) which will be implemented once treaty settlement legislation is enacted and criteria for the board met.

What has worked well?

• The circulation of resource consent applications by the council is seen as an ideal way of providing information on activities in the rohe of tangata whenua and is strongly supported.

• Having iwi liaison staff available as the first point of contact, to act as mediators and to provide assistance to tangata whenua is considered a good service.

• Advice, funding and support from the regional council and some of the district councils to assist iwi and hapū to develop management plans, along with the ability for councils to co-fund projects. Training for regional council staff on basic tikanga (protocol) and Treaty of Waitangi in order to provide them with the knowledge to better understand issues of concern for Māori.

What has not worked well?

• While the policy of circulating all resource consent applications to iwi is appreciated and supported, this still remains a reactive process for both Māori and council. Iwi also consider this to be information sharing, not consultation.

• Rules and processes of councils in regard to notification of consent applications remain inconsistent across the region.

• Inconsistency across councils and differing expectations (tangata whenua/ council) as to how to determine if tangata whenua are an affected party.


FAQs about Iwi Management Plans: http://www.qualityplanning.org.nz/node/1005

Department of Conservation (2012). Heritage Sites by Region – Prehistoric Taitokerau. Retrieved from: http://www.doc.govt.nz/conservation/historic/by-region/northland/northland-historical-overview/prehistoric-taitokerau/

Northland Regional Council (2002). Regional Policy Statement for Northland. Whāngārei: Northland Regional Council.

Northland Regional Council (2009). 10 Year Efficiency and Effectiveness Review Regional Policy Statement.

Northland Regional Council (2010). Background document to the Regional Policy Statement discussion document – Heritage Te Puni Kokiri.

Orange, C. (2012). Northland region – Overview. Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved from: www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/northland-region/1