Will the Crown include iwi Māori in its plan to avoid climate change?

By Taroi Black

Māori are putting heat on the Crown’s entity He Pou ā Rangi-Climate Change Commission, which has failed to engage with a range of Māori entities, claiming it was a “short timeframe” to draft a crucial report for the rest of Aotearoa to lower emissions by 2050.  

The finalised report on May 31 is to advise the New Zealand government how to tackle and limit global warming. However, Māori Climate Commissioner Donna Awatere Huata says there’s “no recommended construct” by iwi Māori under the Te Tiriti o Waitangi partnership.

The Climate Change Commission is an independent entity advising the government on climate change action through the Climate Change Response Amendment Act. It is urging "central and local government to acknowledge iwi/Māori rights to exercise rangatiratanga and kaitiakitanga in a joint plan to reduce emissions."

The commission's advice has created an established framework called He Ara Waiora that helps the Crown understand how to work with Māori. The draft also highlights a range of Māori collectives from different takiwā that were invited to participate in the case studies but weren't able or willing because of the timeframe or because of Maori distrust of the Crown.

'We have our  own frameworks'

Te Ao Mārama News also understands another 25 submissions made through the consultation process had similar views that the commission should collaborate more with its Treaty partners without using the framework.

“We've all read the report, Māoridom has read it – I think we're in a state of shock,” Awatere Huata says.

“It is not for the Crown to assess its impact on Māori/Iwi, as we have our own frameworks and we do not need or want frameworks developed by the Crown."

The commission says it has engaged with Māori entities including urban Māori organisations and Māori businesses. However, Te Tumu Paeroa, the Māori Trustee is the only organisation Te Ao Mārama News has identified in the development. Awatere Huata is critical of the commission's engagement process to tangata whenua and labelled it “false consultation”.

Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu chair Lisa Tumahai who was appointed deputy chair for the Climate Change Commission is the only Māori on the team that advises Climate Change Minister James Shaw. 

He Ara Waiora

But Awatere Huata says Tumahai Lisa had over a year "and all she could manage was a fake consultation that is being used to justify excluding hāpū and iwi concerns. If Aotearoa is to meet the climate challenge Māori, Māori have to be in the driver's seat, not be pushed to the side by dominant Pākehā interests."

Every country member of the Paris Agreement – a legal binding international treaty that aims to limit global warming to at least 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels - is required to go through this process to reach global peaking of greenhouse gas emissions and to establish a climate-neutral world by the mid-century.

However, Tumahai says following the commission's draft advice, it has also received invitations to connect more broadly with iwi/Māori "which we look forward to doing." 

"In the development of our advice we applied the He Ara Waiora framework to our analysis process. This is a framework developed by recognised Māori thought leaders and iwi leaders, and designed to help the Crown improve the way it understands and incorporates Māori perspectives into its work. This is an emergent piece of work that is intended to help the Crown build on the knowledge it has already gathered through working with Māori and not start again every time."

"We have connected with a range of Māori-collectives across the motu. We took a tikanga approach and were careful to go through mandated leaders/representatives and to follow their approval processes."

Minister Shaw couldn’t make comment on individual submissions during reviews before it finalises its advice to the government but says careful consideration will be required “but, that’s work for the independent Climate Change Commission to do, alongside reviewing the many hundreds of other submissions they have received”, Shaw says. 

“We look forward to seeing where the commission lands when they publish their final advice.”