A Handbook of Contemporary Research
Research Handbooks in Intellectual Property series
Edited by Matthew Rimmer
Chapter 21: Diluted control: a critical analysis of the Wai 262 report on Māori traditional knowledge and culture
In 2011, New Zealand’s Waitangi Tribunal released its long-awaited report concerning the nature of Māori rights over their traditional knowledge and culture: Ko Aotearoa Tēnei. The Waitangi Tribunal, an independent commission of inquiry, is mandated to consider and make recommendations on claims by Māori regarding breaches of the Treaty of Waitangi 1840 that is widely regarded as New Zealand’s founding document. The claim that the report addresses – referred to as Wai 262 – was lodged in 1991 by individuals from six iwi (nations) who were concerned about the exploitation of their traditional knowledge and the commodification of Indigenous flora and fauna. It was popularly known as the Indigenous flora and fauna and cultural and intellectual property claim but it was far more encompassing. At heart it was a claim about mātauranga Māori: ‘the unique Māori way of viewing the world, incorporating both Māori culture and Māori traditional knowledge’. In addition to exploring Māori rights to Indigenous flora and fauna and their cultural and intellectual property, the report also considers Māori interests in the environment, the protection of the Māori language, the Crown’s control of mātauranga Māori, traditional Māori healing and the impact on Māori of the Crown’s entry into international commitments.
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