The bicultural significance of forests and associated socioeconomic impact of forestry treaty claims in Aotearoa-New Zealand
The economic importance of forestry as a significant industry in Aotearoa is easily demonstrated, contributing billions to New Zealand’s GDP and directly employing of tens of thousands of people. Their importance to Māori is demonstrably even more fundamental whereby a broader set of principles other than those based on individual property rights and economic values are solidly embraced. To Māori, forests are regarded as “taonga” – a “treasure” – and as such are culturally significant assets that are congruent with values emphasising guardianship over ownership, collective and co-operative rights over individualism, obligations towards future generations, and the need to manage resources sustainably. This is an observational paper (narrative review) examining the proposition that Māori in contemporary New Zealand are likely to balance economic objectives with social, cultural and spiritual values - even though the embedding of cultural Māori values and principles - especially those relating to environmental protection - are still held to strongly. Whilst the proportion of funds relating to forestry settlements under the Treaty of Waitangi underpins the enormity of importance attached to forests, their significance proceeds beyond traditional economic or social measures. Furthermore, the redress amount, or fixed capital sum provided under any Treaty Deed of Settlement agreed to by the Crown tells only part of the story in terms of property settlement and compensation. The more complete picture is that ownership of the land, or part thereof, in addition to accumulated rentals for Crown Licensed Forests has been recovered. In addition, various sites of cultural and spiritual significance located on public conservation land - some of which may contain forest lands – are also included as part of the final redress, thereby further distorting the full compensation amount actually being paid. Notwithstanding, the total compensation package typically represents only a fraction of the current market value of dispossessed land. This paper provides a cross-disciplinary review of relevant literature on the topic with linkages developed for establishing a theoretical evaluative framework. Forestry claim settlements and the related Waitangi Tribunal and its legislated processes, though not perfect processes, have nonetheless facilitated a useful mechanism whereby the Crown’s acknowledgement of grievances, formal apology, cultural redress, along with financial and commercial compensation, have gone some way towards recompensing actions and omissions by the Crown since 1840.... [Show full abstract]
KeywordsMāori forestry settlements; indigenous forest; matauranga; native forest; neotribal capitalism; Treaty of Waitangi
TypeConference Contribution - Published (Conference Paper)
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