Maori participation in environmental mediation
This publication has responded to the Ministry for the Environment's call for research into methods for resolving conflict and models of partnership that are appropriate to Maori requirements and are conducive to iwi development and involvement in resource management. The Resource Management Act 1991 requires that those with functions and duties under the Act consult with the tangata whenua, and that they take account of the the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi. Environmental mediation specifically has been developed and practised in North America over the past 15 years or so. Environmental mediation is an informal, non-adversial approach to resolving conflict, and parties participate voluntarily. They are free to create their own process and their own final agreement. Parties are encouraged to concentrate on what they value or their interests, rather than on positions. The studies demonstrated both positive and negative factors from an iwi perspective. Maori parties were given ample opportunities to express their views during mediated disputes. Those with negotiating experience, knowledge of the issues or an awareness of a good alternative to mediation felt empowered in the process. However, the absence of a 'level playing field' in the broader societal context was also apparent. Diversity of interest is more likely to be recognised in non-Maori rather than Maori concerns. Access to information was not equal for all parties nor were the resources available for participation. Enormous sums of money appeared to be available to bring scientific and technical information to the mediation setting whereas iwi representatives bringing cultural or vii spiritual information to the negotiating table did not have access to funds. Processes were driven by Crown agencies and this did not assist Maori groups to advocate their own interests in the way they wished, or to empower them. Participation tended to be reactive rather than proactive. Tribal concerns were sometimes subsumed by other concerns. Recommendations arising from the research are as follows. 1. Investigate the feasibility of establishing a nationalised conflict resolution information service for iwi. 2. Investigate the feasibility of establishing a regional and local service that offers independent advice to iwi on conflict resolution. 3. Investigate means by which people can find out the grounds on which Maori groups are claiming the right to participate, and the nature of that right. 4. Prepare a guide for iwi on opportunities for participation in resource management decision making that are provided in legislation. 5. Investigate potential sources of funding to enable iwi to participate effectively in environmental mediation. 6. Investigate changes that are needed in the Resource Management Act to ensure Maori effectiveness in mediation. 7. Prepare guides on mediation for agencies and individuals that interface with iwi e.g. government departments, regional councils, local authorities, consent use applicants, mediators etc. 8. Investigate methods of cross-cultural environmental information exchange in New Zealand, Canada and Australia. The findings of this publication are directed specifically at iwi.... [Show full abstract]
Keywordsconflict resolution; environmental mediation; bicultural mediation; resource management; environmental disputes; Resource Management Act 1991
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