Intangible Cultural Heritage in New Zealand/Aotearoa: A National Perspective

Wednesday 6th June 2012

Intangible Cultural Heritage in New Zealand/Aotearoa: A National Perspective

Article by Benjamin A R Sullivan

Puritia ngā taonga tuku iho a ngā tupuna hei tiki hūia mā ngā uri whakatupu a Aotearoa
‘Keep the treasures handed down by the ancestors as an adornment for the descendants yet to be born in New Zealand’
Māori whakatauki (proverb)

From the first appearance of indigenous Māori inhabitants almost 1000 years ago, with the integration of European settlers during the 19th century, and when observing the ethnic heterogeneity of its population today, the history of New Zealand (in Māori: Aotearoa) paints an unrivalled portrait of cultural development and evolution. With such rich and diverse heritage it is therefore, to many, surprising that New Zealand has chosen to abstain from adopting the 2003 United Nations Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage (hereafter: the Convention). This paper will briefly discuss how much of New Zealand’s intangible cultural heritage, specifically its indigenous Māori heritage, could reliably fall within the protection mandated by the Convention, and describes several of these examples in detail. The paper then addresses the reasons given by New Zealand’s government for its abstention from the Convention. Finally, this paper outlines specific national measures and mechanisms in place, which ensure that an adequately suitable framework is in place (given the sensitive and unique treatment given to New Zealand’s intangible cultural heritage) and simultaneously demonstrate a strong level of commitment to the overarching principles of the Convention.

New Zealand’s Intangible Cultural Heritage

The Convention states that intangible cultural heritage is manifested in the following domains:[1]

  • oral traditions and expressions, including languages, as a vehicle of the intangible cultural heritage;
  • performing arts, such as traditional music, dance and theatre;
  • social practices, rituals and festival events;
  • knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe; and
  • traditional craftsmanship.

New Zealand exhibits an enormous wealth of tradition and culture, many examples of which would fall suitably within the bounds of the Convention. This paper concentrates primarily on examples of Māori intangible cultural heritage (mātauranga Māori) because most, if not all, of the government’s efforts in safeguarding national heritage and tradition are concentrated on the protection of its indigenous heritage.

The identification of intangible cultural heritage often focuses on tangible elements to which a spiritual dimension is attached. For example, the Historic Places Act 1993 recognises places of spiritual value to Māori, specifically those having “intangible characteristics where no visible feature or evidence is present but where a significant event or traditional activity took place”.[2] These may include battlefields, places of religious or ritual significance, fishing grounds etc. Other examples include taunga waka (ancestral canoe landings), mahinga kai (places where food was procured) and landscape features marking the boundaries of iwi (tribes) or hapu (clans) or associated with mythological events. Another important example of mātauranga Māori is te reo, the Māori language, which is discussed later in this paper. The concept of mātauranga Māori also covers aspects of Māori traditional knowledge and concerns “the retention and protection of knowledge [involved in] ngā toi Māori (arts), whakairo (carving), history, oral tradition, waiata (songs) … and rongoā Māori (medicine and healing)”.[3] Due to the abundance of mātauranga Māori, concerns are typically raised over international targeting of traditional knowledge systems. It is for this reason that New Zealand plays an important role in securing its own unique cultural heritage, and possibly why it remains hesitant to bind itself under international legal regimes that may control how it does so. When attempting to classify New Zealand’s cultural heritage it is important to remember that Māori “adopt a highly holistic view of the universe, in terms of which there is no watertight distinction between the tangible and the intangible, between the physical and spiritual, the dead and living, the past and future, and the people and the land”.[4] The concept of taonga[5] is representative of all these aspects.

Issues for New Zealand

Upon learning of the 2004 visit to New Zealand by UNESCO’s then Director-General Mr. Koichiro Matsuura, Māori Chief Tumu Te Heuheu of the Ngāti Tuwharetoa tribe declared, with regards to the 2003 UNESCO Convention, that New Zealand was satisfied and willing to “share with the largest number possible the very extensive experience it has gained in this domain. Intangible heritage is an essential element of the cultural diversity of the Pacific region; it is one of our irreplaceable resources”.[6] However, although supportive of the concept of the safeguarding of New Zealand’s intangible cultural heritage, several government departments consulted on the Draft Convention raised concerns over the desirability of adopting a single, legally binding instrument to protect intangible heritage.

Cultural Property of Indigenous Peoples
In New Zealand, the Treaty of Waitangi Te Tiriti o Waitangi[7] offers protection to Māori tāonga, a concept that includes both tangible and intangible elements. It has therefore been established that the Crown and Māori together have an obligation in preserving, protecting, and promoting intangible cultural heritage.[8] For New Zealand, the Convention as it stands does not sufficiently reflect the importance of the intangible cultural heritage of indigenous peoples in particular, in this instance the Māori. Maui Solomon, a Māori barrister and indigenous lawyer from New Zealand, admits that “Māori culture and imagery is a powerful branding tool for New Zealand. But Māori want to have control over how and to what extent this should happen. They do not want their culture or values denigrated or portrayed in an offensive manner. Accurate and culturally appropriate portrayal of Māori values or traditions will not only protect those values but also enhance the commercial value of any product it may be associated with. But it is for Māori to finally determine what it and what is not appropriate for commercial exploitation and how the benefits of that are to be shared.”[9]

Problems of Definition
The Ministry for Culture and Heritage Te Manatu Taonga (hereafter: MCH) recognises an inherent problem in defining something that is intangible. Māori cultural heritage is inextricably bound to the concept of ‘wairua’, a life essence that underpins the very nature of all culture and heritage. Wairua can roughly be defined as ‘spirit’, ‘soul’ or ‘quintessence’ and embraces the spirit of a person, which exists beyond death. The relationship between tangible and intangible cultural heritage is therefore inextricably linked, and compartmentalising this or separating the two is likely to prove too challenging. Te Puni Kōkiri, New Zealand’s Ministry for Māori Development[10] advised that for Māori, separating the process (intangible culture) from the product (tangible culture) is not possible. Furthermore, it suggested Māori would be uncomfortable with the Convention’s description of ‘language’ as a vehicle for the values and beliefs of culture (article 2.2(a)), because for Māori language is a tāonga in itself. Reservations have therefore been expressed that ‘language’, under the Convention, is not seen as a cultural heritage in its own right. Te reo Māori, the Māori language, is considered one of the most significant aspects of mātauranga Māori, and was the subject of Waitangi Tribunal Claim Wai 11 brought in 1985.[11] Here it was claimed that the Crown “had failed to protect te reo Māori”[12] as required by Article 2 of the Treaty of Waitangi.[13] The claimants proposed that the language be made ‘official’ for the purposes of enabling its use “as of right”[14] in Parliament, the courts, Government departments, public bodies and local authorities. Recommendations in support of the claimants’ cause were made by the Waitangi Tribunal[15] and have resulted in its legislative recognition as an official language of New Zealand (Māori Language Act 1987).

In response to the draft Convention Te Puni Kōkiri also suggested that ‘safeguarding’, which uses the term ‘protection’, has connotations of ‘freezing’ heritage, potentially imposing undesirable limits on the natural evolution and development of cultures.[16] Furthermore, the MCH noted that the definition also includes ‘preservation’, which has the potential to allow public access to some traditional knowledge without appropriate cultural permission.[17]

Kate MacDonald, Senior Policy Advisor of the Ministry for Culture and Heritage Te Manatu Taonga, states that “New Zealand’s abstention was motivated by concerns with the substantive obligations of the Convention, including in particular the appropriateness of creating an international ‘register’ of forms of intangible cultural heritage”. The compilation of an inventory of intangible cultural heritage in New Zealand, which Ms. MacDonald describes as “the key deliverable of the Convention”, is considered physically and politically impossible given the exceptional nature of Māori cultural heritage and the sensitivity with which it is treated. Many indigenous peoples, including Māori, “are skeptical about the use and benefits of inventories as a way of safeguarding intangible cultural heritage”.[18]

In New Zealand, considerable consultation with affected communities would be needed to compile an inventory of this nature. Through this process it is unlikely consensus would be reached on what should be included in such a document.[19] Te Puni Kōkiri and the Ministry of Economic Development have stressed Māori reluctance to document intangible cultural heritage in this way, explaining that creating hierarchies of value and inventories that are publically and globally available may make the information more readily available to those who might want to appropriate it and could thus achieve the opposite effect to safeguarding.[20] Indeed, while the intent of establishing an inventory of Māori intangible cultural heritage is to safeguard, there remains a risk that this could have the unintended consequence of releasing information into the public domain, thereby increasing the risk of inappropriate exploitation or desecration of that heritage.[21] In a similar vein, Te Puni Kōkiri is also concerned with the issue of open access to privileged information or specialised knowledge held by tōhunga.[22] Furthermore, putting Māori intangible cultural heritage into an ‘official’ documented form may not take into account the evolution and change of cultures over time. Were New Zealand to accede to the Convention, and accept that intangible cultural forms are ‘fluid’, it is possible that inventories would have to be frequently revisited and revised, which would result in extensive and ongoing consultation.[23] Furthermore, in New Zealand there could be considerable debate over claims of authenticity and accuracy, especially when more than one group is claiming ownership of a cultural form.[24]

Relationship to Existing International Agreements
Officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, in 2003, raised concerns over the impact of the Convention on other international agreements to which New Zealand is already party, particularly the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs (GATT) and the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). It is believed that there is scope for conflict between measures countries might employ to protect their cultural heritage and countries’ obligations to these agreements.[25] There is a concern that a trading partner might cite the Convention in moves to block New Zealand agricultural products on the grounds that such measures were necessary to ‘ensure the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage’ such as traditional farming practices.[26] In other words, New Zealand farm produce may be excluded from export on the basis that traditional farming methods were considered intangible cultural heritage, requiring protection. In addition, should New Zealand accede to the Convention, under international law it would take precedence over earlier treaties/conventions to which New Zealand are already a signatory, should they impact differently on the same issue; therefore, obligations to the 2003 Convention could override those under previous treaties or conventions.

Costs of Accession
According to MCH the initial direct cost of Convention membership would be 1% of the annual UNESCO fee paid over two years (approximately NZ$18,000).[27] Furthermore, indirect costs would be borne through drawing up inventories, developing a formal policy, identifying a responsible body and supporting any additional functions required in the areas of education, access, research, training and documentation; these have been assessed as at least $260,000 per year.[28] New Zealand benefits from a suitably pro-active government, which has already incorporated significant protection for aspects of intangible cultural heritage into the country’s legal framework, government policies and cultural programmes (as mentioned later in this paper). Given the resources currently directed towards this work in New Zealand it is therefore difficult to see what benefits could be derived from membership, which could justify the additional costs associated with accession to the Convention.[29]
Intellectual Property Issues

The National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa responded to the 2003 draft Convention by suggesting more work could be done at a national level on the intellectual property protection of traditional cultural expressions before New Zealand considered accession to the Convention.[30] The Ministry of Economic Development also detected a lack of clarity regarding the relationship between the Convention and intellectual property law, expressing confidence that its current work on Traditional Knowledge sufficiently addresses aspects of the Convention already.[31] Other international agreements and organisations are believed to have greater scope and applicability in protecting Māori culture and heritage. Among these are WTO, Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), WIPO’s Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore, and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. New Zealand participates in and cooperates extensively with WIPO, and the Ministry of Economic Development has declared “that this forum is more appropriate than [the] UNESCO Convention … [as it is] more sensitive to the differing needs of different communities, more likely to produce practical strategies for communities and governments, and therefore more likely to attract international support”.[32]
In relation to the protection of traditional knowledge, traditional cultural expressions (or folklore) and access to genetic resources and benefit sharing, WIPO is already in a position to offer New Zealand a sufficient range of practical tools aimed at enhancing the intellectual property interests of holders of cultural heritage. WIPO already plays an important role in assisting New Zealand in developing draft legal mechanisms, preparing documentation toolkits to aid communities in documenting their traditional knowledge and in the longer term, formulating intellectual property-related guidelines for the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage based on the full range of experiences surveyed, further consultations and wide inputs.[33]

Of recent importance is the Wai 262 Claim, concerning intellectual property and the protection of Māori intangible cultural heritage. This Treaty of Waitangi claim was brought against the New Zealand Crown in 1991 by six iwi.[34] The claim “is about the place of Māori culture, identify and traditional knowledge in New Zealand’s laws, government policies and practices. It concerns who controls Māori traditional knowledge, who controls artistic and cultural works such as haka and waiata, and who controls the environment that created Māori culture.”[35] After 20 years the Waitangi Tribunal[36] released its Report in July 2011.[37]

The Report discussed the Māori concept of intangible cultural heritage, stressing “[m]ātauranga Māori and taonga works are not like land or other physical resources. They are products of the hearts and minds of the communities who have created them and … the value in these things is not in exclusively possessing them, but rather in sharing them.”[38] Furthermore, the Treaty of Waitangi “envisages the Crown-Māori relationship as a partnership, in which the Crown is entitled to govern but Māori retain tino rangatiratanga (full authority) over their taonga.”[39] However, the Tribunal noted the deficiencies in current laws and government policies, which rather than strengthen this partnership, instead marginalise Māori and allow others to control and appropriate key aspects of Māori culture. The report suggested current laws, for example, “allow others to commercialise Māori artistic and cultural works such as haka and tā moko without iwi or hapū acknowledgement or consent … They allow others to use traditional Māori knowledge without consent or acknowledgment. They provide little or no protection against offensive or derogatory uses of Māori artistic and cultural works … [and] sideline Māori and Māori cultural values from decisions of vital importance to their culture.”[40]

The Tribunal, however, also recognised that in the context of modern New Zealand full authority over taonga will not always be possible, noting that the interests of iwi and hapū will “instead have to be balanced alongside the interests of other New Zealanders.”[41] For this reason, the Tribunal concluded, “the Treaty does not provide for exclusive ownership of mātauranga Māori or the intangible aspects of taonga works … [However,] New Zealand should have a duel strategy: first, to introduce a regime to protect mātauranga Māori and taonga works; and secondly, to advocate for the broad uptake of minimum standards of protection in the international community, whether in large multilateral or smaller free trade agreements.”[42] Despite promoting international cooperation and collaboration, the Report does not mention the 2003 UNESCO Convention and its potential application in regard to Māori intangible cultural heritage. Whether the Tribunal’s recommendations for law and policy reform will serve to catalyse New Zealand’s accession to the Convention remains to be seen. Furthermore, opinion is divided over the true scope and effectiveness of the Tribunal’s decision. It has been argued the Tribunal’s findings were “highly political, weak and had missed the point.”[43] According to Māori party MP Rahui Katene, “there is no Māori control over things Māori, which is what the original claim called for. It is all about partnership, which is fine, but I think Māori will still be treated as a junior partner.”[44]

Current Framework

Although New Zealand’s statutory framework for the protection of cultural heritage “tends to focus on the identification, recording and safeguarding of tangible cultural heritage”,[45] steps have been taken in New Zealand to incorporate protection for aspects of intangible cultural heritage, through the development of targeted legislation, government policies and cultural programmes. Despite it’s “inability to adopt the Convention as it is … New Zealand continues to be a strong supporter of the protection and promotion of intangible cultural heritage”.[46] Various Government Departments, Ministries, Crown Entities and Agencies are currently invested in intangible cultural heritage protection – a list of these can be seen in the accompanying Appendix. Legislation and domestic policies are also in place, aimed at protecting aspects of intangible cultural heritage (see Appendix). Furthermore, the New Zealand government acknowledges that development of strategies to protect intangible cultural heritage “is very likely to straddle a range of policy areas including intellectual property, cultural heritage policy, conservation and environmental concerns”.[47] Therefore, as it currently stands, a targeted (rather than universal) framework appears more suited to New Zealand for safeguarding and preserving the intangible cultural heritage. While issues concerning indigenous peoples’ cultural heritage and intellectual property rights continue to ignite debate, however, it remains to be seen whether reform, on a level with UNESCO’s benchmark, is inevitable.


For New Zealand, the promotion, protection and preservation of its intangible cultural heritage remains a necessary component to recognising and cherishing its rich historical heritage. Whilst several social, political and logistical reasons have been cited as preventing New Zealand from becoming a party to the 2003 Convention, it is undeniable the strategic tools already in place will continue to observe the Convention’s principles and will not prevent constructive dialogue between New Zealand and UNESCO in the future.

Government Departments, Ministries, Crown Entities or Agencies

  • Archives New Zealand

Archives NZ is the official custodian of New Zealand’s public archives. It gathers, stores and preserves a wide range of material, including many national treasures (for example, the Treaty of Waitangi) and plays an important role in documenting the relationship between the Crown and Māori. See

  • Te Puni Kōkiri 

See footnote 4. 

  • Department for Internal affairs (including Office of Ethnic Affairs)

Provides resources, advice and information on issues affecting ethnic communities in New Zealand. “In 2011, the Office of Ethnic Affairs will release a government responsiveness toolkit for government agencies. This toolkit is a resource for government agencies to develop policies and services that are responsive, accessible and culturally appropriate for all New Zealanders”. See and

  • Ministry for Pacific Island Affairs

The MPIA is the Government’s premier adviser on policies and interventions to promote the social, economic and cultural development of Pacific Islander communities in New Zealand. See

  • Department of Conservation

The DOC is concerned with the protection of New Zealand’s natural and historical heritage. It manages around 10,000 Māori sites (including places of economic, spiritual and military significance). See

  • Ministry of Economic Development

The MED works to promote the effective functioning of New Zealand’s economy. In the context of intangible cultural heritage protection, the Ministry contributes directly to the development of intellectual property rights policies in the areas of traditional knowledge and indigenous heritage. See

  • Ministry of Education
  • The National Library of New Zealand

The purpose of the National Library, as defined in the National Library of New Zealand Act 2003, is “to enrich the cultural and economic life of New Zealand and its interchange with other nations, as appropriate, by: collecting, preserving, and protecting documents, particularly those relating to New Zealand, and make them accessible for all the people of New Zealand, in a manner consistent with their status as documentary heritage and taonga; supplementing and furthering the work of other libraries in New Zealand; and working collaboratively with other institutions having similar purposes, including those forming part of the international library community”. See

  • Ministry for Culture and Heritage

The MCH leads government work in the arts, heritage, broadcasting and sports sectors providing advice on legislation, policy and sector development. The Ministry also plays a crucial role in managing activities that support and promote New Zealand’s cultural heritage. See
Agencies funded through Government Departments or Ministries

  • Te Matatini

Te Matatini aims to promote the awareness, importance and appreciation of traditional Māori performing arts through fostering all aspects of tikanga Māori, essential to its preservation and development. See

  • Māori Language Commission

The Commission’s goal is to empower Māori to maintain and generate language development amongst their communities, whilst maintaining and disseminating Māori language resources. See

  • Creative New Zealand

CNZ is the national arts development agency cultivating, investing in and advocating for all New Zealand art and culture. See

  • New Zealand Historic Places Trust

The NZHPT employs specialist Pouarahi (Māori heritage advisors) and other regional staff throughout New Zealand. Pouarahi and NZHPT staff (including archaeologists, architects and planners) provide advice to iwi and hapu on Māori heritage preservation, conservation, protection and management. They also provide advice on strategies, mechanisms and management tools available to iwi and hapu to exercise and manage their kaitiakitanga (intangible cultural heritage). See

  • New Zealand Music Industry Commission


  • New Zealand On Air


  • Radio NZ International


  • Māori Television


  • Te Papa

New Zealand’s national museum has implemented several bicultural programmes and partnerships (both Māori and Pakeha) for the interpretation of collections through indigenous knowledge systems, oral traditions and beliefs. See

  • Te Māngai Paho

Te Mangai Paho is a Crown Entity established to make funding available for the production of Maori language television programming. See

  • Royal New Zealand Ballet


  • New Zealand Symphony Orchestra

Legislation promoting or providing safeguards for intangible cultural heritage, particularly MāoriTe Matatini (for all see

  • Māori Language Act 1987

Recognises Te Reo Māori as an official language of New Zealand.

  • Protected Objects Act 1975

Regulates the export of protected New Zealand goods, the illegal import or export of protected goods, and the sale, trade and ownership of Māori taonga.

  • Arts Council of New Zealand Toi Aotearoa Act 1994 (ss 13 and 14(1))

Establishes the Arts Council of New Zealand, and in outlining the principal functions of the arts board recognises the unique role of Māori as tangata whenua “people of the land” and their importance in contributing to the management New Zealand’s art and culture.

  • Broadcasting Act 1989 (ss 36 and 53B)

Provides for the regulation of New Zealand’s broadcasting services, consistent with continued promotion of Māori language and culture.

  • New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute Act 1963

Established the New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute, an organisation created to counter the impending threat of the loss of traditional Māori arts. There are currently two schools of art devoted to whakairo (carving) and raranga (weaving).

  • Radio New Zealand Act 1995 (s7 – the Charter)

Establishes Radio New Zealand, directing it to promote ‘a range of New Zealand programmes, including information, special interest, and entertainment programmes, and programmes which reflect New Zealand’s cultural diversity, including Maori language and culture’.

  • Television New Zealand Act 2003 (s12 – the Charter)

Establishes Television New Zealand, instructing it in its programming ‘to enable all New Zealanders to have access to material that promotes Māori language and culture’.

  • Historic Places Act 1993

Established the New Zealand Historic Places Trust for the purpose of preserving, marking and recording places of historic interest in New Zealand.

  • Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa Act 1992

This Act establishes the purpose of New Zealand’s national museum Te Papa: ‘Te Papa is a forum for the nation to present, explore, and preserve the heritage of its cultures and knowledge of the natural environment in order to: better understand and treasure the past; enrich the present; and meet challenges for the future’.

  • Local Government Act 2002

Domestic Policy for Protecting Intangible/Tangible Cultrual Heritage

  • Marae (Māori communal or sacred meeting place) preservation

Funded through the New Zealand Historic Places Trust and the New Zealand Lottery Grants Board

  • Te Māori Manaaki Taonga Trust

The Trust provides expert training for Māori museum staff.

  • Niu FM


  • Iwi Radio Stations


  • Kōhanga Reo and language nests for Pacific Island peoples

Te Kōhanga Reo is a total immersion Māori language family programme for young children from birth to six years of age. See

  • Kura Kaupapa and Wānanga

These are Māori immersion schools where philosophy and practice reflect Māori cultural values with the aim of revitalising Māori language, knowledge and culture. See

  • Te Papa’s Karanga Aotearoa Repatriation Programme

Te Papa “is undertaking a formal repatriation programme of kōiwi tangata Māori and koimi Moriori (Māori and Moriori ancestral remains) to New Zealand and to hapū/iwi communities of origin. The New Zealand government has agreed to fund Te Papa Tongarewa to undertake this work on its behalf”. See

[1] Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage 2003, art 2.3
[2] “Maori HeritageNgā Taonga Tuku Iho no Ngā Tupuna” New Zealand Historic Places Trust at
[3] Paul Myburgh “New Zealand / Aotearoa” in T Kono (ed) The Impact of Uniform Laws on the Protection of Cultural Heritage and the Preservation of Cultural Heritage in the 21st Century (Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, Leiden, 2010) 639, at 660.
[4] Ibid, at 661.
[5] For Māori, tāonga is a treasure. A tāonga“has far more than artistic value. It has spiritual value, it may tell stories about people or places, and it may link its creator back to ancestors of earlier generations”. See Case Study Report: New Zealand, Safeguarding of the Traditional Maori Arts, Te Puia, New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute, ACCU International Partnership Programme for Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage 2009-2010, available at
[6] Office of the Spokeswoman, Preservation of cultural landscapes and the intangible cultural heritage in the Pacific region, 14 October 2003.
[7] The Treaty of Waitangi is often described as New Zealand’s founding document. Signed in 1840, it forms an agreement in both English and Māori between the British Crown and around 540 Māori rangatira (chiefs). Its effect was to give Britain sovereignty over New Zealand territory and Māori the rights of British subjects, whilst still recognising Māori ownership or ‘stewardship’ of their lands and properties. Historically, controversy has arisen over the translation and scope of application of the treaty. Nowadays, it is usual to refer to the intention, spirit or principles of the Treaty. The Treaty of Waitangi is not integrated directly within New Zealand’s domestic law, except where its principles are referred to in Acts of Parliament. The exclusive right to determine the meaning of the Treaty now rests with the Waitangi Tribunal. Created in 1975, this commission of enquiry is authorised to investigate the Crown’s alleged breaches of the Treaty. See
[8] Kate Macdonald, Ministry for Culture and Heritage TeManatu Taonga. Private Email.
[9] Maui Solomon, Intellectual Property Rights and Indigenous Peoples Rights and Obligations, paper presented to the workshop on instruments for access and benefit sharing from genetic resources and related traditional knowledge issues at Global Biodiversity Forum 15, UNEP Headquarters, Gigiri, Nairobi, Kenya, 2000, available at
[10] Te Puni Kōkiri is “the Crown’s principal adviser on Crown-Māori relationships”, guiding Māori public policy and advising the Government on “policy affecting Māori wellbeing and development”. See
[11] See
[12] Myburgh, above n 2, 659.
[13] Treaty of Waitangi, Article the second (English): Her Majesty the Queen of England confirms and guarantees to the Chiefs and Tribes of New Zealand and to the respective families and individuals thereof the full exclusive and undisturbed possession of their Lands and Estates Forests Fisheries and other properties which they may collectively or individually possess so long as it is their wish and desire to retain the same in their possession; but the Chiefs of the United Tribes and the individual Chiefs yield to Her Majesty the exclusive right of Preemption over such lands as the proprietors thereof may be disposed to alienate at such prices as may be agreed upon between the respective Proprietors and persons appointed by Her Majesty to treat with them in that behalf.
[14] Myburgh, above n 6, 659.
[15] See Myburgh, above n 6, 659.
[16] Macdonald, above n 3.

[17] Ibid.
[18] Ibid.
[19] Ibid.
[20] Ibid.
[21] Ibid.
[22] Tōhunga are expert practitioners in the Māori culture of a particular skill or art; they may include expert priests, healers, teachers, builders or carvers.
[23] Macdonald, above n 3.
[24] Ibid.
[25] Ibid.
[26] Ibid.
[27] Ibid.
[28] Ibid.
[29] Ibid.
[30] Ibid.
[31] Ibid.
[32] Ibid.
[33] Ibid.
[34] Ngāti Kuri, Ngāti Wai, Te Rarawa, Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Kahungunu and Ngāti Koata. See Ministry of Economic Development, “Information Sheet: Treaty of Waitangi Claim Wai 262”, available at
[35] Waitangi Tribunal, “Time to Move beyond Grievance in Treaty Relationship, Tribunal Says”, available at
[36] The Waitangi Tribunal is a permanent government commission of enquiry, established in 1975 to consider and make recommendations on claims brought by Māori about Crown acts or omissions that breach the promises made in the Treaty of Waitangi. See ibid.
[37] Full Report available at
[38] Ibid, 43-44.
[39] Waitangi Tribunal, above n 33, 1.
[40] Ibid, 2.
[41] Ibid, 3.
[42] Wai 262 Report, above n 35, 52.
[43] Marty Sharpe, Maori don’t own NZ’s wildlife,, available at
[44] Ibid.
[45] Myburgh, above n 6, 658.
[46] Macdonald, above n 3.
[47] Andrew Brown “Ministry of Economic Development Announces Work Programme on Traditional Knowledge” (2003) Andrew Brown Queen’s Counsel, available at

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