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Emerging Planners Congress


A presentation on what best practice
mana whenua engagement on environmental planning issues looks like from the perspective of Ngāi Tahu environmental kaitiaki

Tuesday 31st March,  12.15 – 1.00

New Zealand planners work within the context of a bi-cultural country built on the foundations of Te Tiriti o Waitangi. As our country has matured, so too have the expectations and requirements for mana whenua to be engaged with in planning processes. What has not kept up however is the availability of education for planners doing this engagement. The Resource Management Act, Local Government Act, and Conservation Act all reference the need to engage with mana whenua, with many lower order documents triggering engagement requirements for those seeking consent to undertake activities. There is also a raft of unique treaty settlement provisions that add specific engagement requirements on an iwi by iwi basis. Whilst the majority of planners understand that they will likely need to engage with mana whenua during projects, understanding of how to do this is a different is a different matter altogether. Most guidance for how to undertake this engagement (where there is any) is very high level, and focused on the legal 'who' and 'why'.  What is missing is the practical how.


This presentation aims to help planners reflect on how current processes and actions can be perceived by the whānau members they are attempting to engage with, and provides some guidance on how to plan for and conduct mana whenua engagement in a way that is more culturally appropriate, and responsive to the unique pressures that come with being an environmental kaitiaki. These recommendations are based on the research, “Ngā Kōrero o ngā Poupou o te Whare – how to improve Crown and local authority-initiated engagement processes in environmental planning issues in the Ngāi Tahu takiwā through the perspectives of mana whenua kaitiaki", being undertaken as part of an MSci at University of Canterbury.

Presenter:  Courtney Bennett

Post-graduate student, University of Canterbury

Courtney Bennett (BPlan(hons), INT.NZPI, BMPA) is a Christchurch-based planner who has spent the majority of her career working with mana whenua on environmental planning issues. She has a passion for incorporating cultural narratives and plain language in planning documents, and is the 2019 recipient of the Lance Leikis NZPI Young Planner award.  She is currently working towards a MSci at the University of Canterbury with a thesis on best practice mana whenua engagement processes. 

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