top of page

SESSION THEME | Voices - te ao Māori


The RMA: A Catalogue of Cultural Barriers

Wednesday 1 April, 

Key Messages:

  1. Unquantifiable investment by Maori in RMA processes overwhelmingly outweigh the modest cultural outcomes achieved.

  2. 2.Only in exceptional cases have Maori values had a determinative effect on significant RMA decisions.

  3. Traditional Maori knowledge and the opportunities this presents consistently play 2nd fiddle to the western scientific paradigm.


  1. Other than a generic reference to 'cultural wellbeing", section 5 is silent on the relevance of the Te Ao Maori worldview.

  2. The application of section 6(e) and 7(a) is dependent on the existence of a TW submission. Because of limited iwi capacity, there necessarily exists in the RMA a glaring cultural void in which countless decisions are made in the complete absence of cultural expertise.

  3. Contrary to the holistic Maori worldview, section 6(e) and 7(a) compartmentalise cultural values and deny them the all-encompassing reach they are entitled to.

  4. Section 8 allows decision makers to substantively discount the principles of the Treaty in favour of competing considerations

  5. The section 9 presumption in favour of any land use activity unless it contravenes a rule in a plan places upon iwi the impossible task of forecasting every conceivable way that significant cultural sites and landscapes may be impacted by land use activities.

  6. The devolution of RMA decision-making functions to local government has required iwi to repeatedly duplicate the expression of their values to multiple councils.

CONCLUSION: Maori insights and lore may enable the making of more enlightened decisions about how we allocate and use natural resources. All resource management practitioners must find ways to embrace matauranga Maori and accord cultural perspectives the significant weight they warrant.

Presenter:  Paul Horgan

Natural Resources Manager,Te Hapū o Ngati Wheke

Over many years, Paul was employed by Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu as it's principal RMA Advisor. With qualification in law and resource management, Paul's experience working at the coal face of Maori RMA participation, has enabled him to glean many unique insights about both the legislative barriers iwi face and, more importantly, the potential benefits to us all of listening more closely to the voice of tangata whenua.

bottom of page