Legal and Policy Issues
Edited by Christoph Beat Graber, Karolina Kuprecht and Jessica Christine Lai
Chapter 16: A New Zealand Perspective on the Protection of Mātauranga Māori (Traditional Knowledge)
In 1991 several Māori people began a journey by lodging a claim before the Waitangi Tribunal. Six claimants brought the proceedings on behalf of their iwi (tribe) and as individual claimants. The claimants were Haana Murray of Nga¯ti Kurı¯, Hema Nui a TawhakiWitana of Te Rarawa, TeWiti McMath of Nga¯tiWai, Tama Poata of Nga¯ti Porou, Kataraina Rimene of Nga¯ti Kahungunu and John Hippolite of Nga¯ti Koata. At the core of the claimants’ reasons for bringing the claim was the view that successive New Zealand governments had failed to allow Ma¯ori to exercise te tino rangitiratanga (literally chieftainship, but perhaps more accurately self-determination and control) over things Māori and, in particular, in regard to the body of knowledge and understanding; that is, ma¯tauranga Māori (traditional knowledge, including Māori culture). The claim alleged that this failure had been a major cause of the loss of Māori culture. The claim became known by the claim numberWai 262. I refer in this chapter to the short title of the report on the claims, Ko Aotearoa Te¯nei. The claim was wide in its scope and complex in its depth. It asked whether the Crown had honoured its obligations, under the Treaty of Waitangi, Māori culture and ma¯tauranga Māori, Māori peoples’ relationship with the environment, Māori language and Māori medicinal practices.
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