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Findings and discussion

This chapter summarises the interview data and information by sub-sections and topic areas.

The groups of responses correspond with the key questions and topic areas included in the interview questionnaire (see the interview questions).

Crown–Māori engagement

We found that Crown–Māori engagement both within and between each agency varies significantly in:

  • the purpose and the drivers of the engagement
  • the Māori entities being engaged with
  • the form of the engagement.

In regards to the Māori entities that are being engaged with, this is happening at many levels and with a variety of entities and groups.

Descriptions of Māori entities

Here is a description of the type of Māori entities that agencies were engaging with.

Iwi: Iwi or tribal entity/representatives.

Hapū: Hapū or sub-tribal entity / representatives.

Whānau: Māori family/families.

Tangata whenua: Local people from a particular area.

Individuals: Influential and/or powerful Māori individuals.

Marae: People representing Marae.

Māori landowners: Māori landowners or representatives of Māori landowners.

Trusts and incorporations: Trust and incorporations that represent Māori people and administer and govern their interests (eg trusts and incorporations that represented Māori land and landowners).

Rūnanga: The governing council or administrative group of an iwi or hapū.

Māori claimant group(s): The entity representing a Māori group(s) in a Treaty settlement negotiation.

Post settlement governance entity(ies): The entity formed to receive and administer settlement assets on behalf of a Māori claimant group.

Asset holding company(ies): Refers to the entity formed to hold and manage a Māori claimant group’s commercial assets (obtained before and through the settlement).

Mandated iwi organisations: Refers to an organisation that has met the governance criteria set out in the Māori Fisheries Act 2004, which receives fisheries assets as the mandated iwi organisation for that iwi.

Iwi aquaculture organisations: Under the Māori Commercial Aquaculture Claims Settlement Act 2004 an iwi aquaculture organisation is also a mandated iwi organisation under the Māori Fisheries Act 2004, authorised to act on behalf of its iwi in relation to aquaculture claims and aquaculture settlement assets.

Iwi Chairs Forum: The Iwi Chairs Forum is a collection of iwi chairpersons and leaders that meet quarterly to discuss Māori aspirations in the spheres of cultural, social, economic, environmental and political development. The Forum regularly invites Crown representatives, Members of Parliament and stakeholder and community groups to present at hui on projects and issues that concern iwi. All iwi chairpersons have an open invitation to participate in, and contribute to, this group.

Iwi Leaders Group(s): Iwi Leaders Groups are established through the Iwi Chairs Forum on particular kaupapa (topic areas) to engage directly with iwi, hapū and Government. Their meeting schedules and agenda depend on the nature of the kaupapa. Iwi Leaders Groups host regional hui as required, and report to the Iwi Chairs Forum at their quarterly hui.

Māori representatives on advisory boards: Māori representatives that are placed on advisory boards to represent Māori interests and/or specific iwi/hapū interests.

Māori sector groups: Māori entities that represent specific sectors and interests (eg the Federation of Māori Authorities, Māori Tourism).

Māori authorities

Some agencies mentioned urban Māori authorities as an important stakeholder, particularly around their role in representing urban Māori populations and interests. Although none of our interviewees stated that they engaged with urban Māori authorities, they did note that they are an important Māori entity for engagement (Meredith, 2012; Waitangi Tribunal, 1998).

Engaging with one or many entities

The engagement within a specific work or topic area can be with various Māori entities, or with a specific Māori entity. For example, some policy issues involve engagement with the Iwi Chairs Forum, an Iwi Leaders Group, iwi/hapū groups, and post settlement governance entities. On the other hand, some work or topic areas focus on engagement with a specific entity as prescribed in legislation. The variation in engagement is very dependent on the agency (or agencies involved) and the work or topic area.

Agencies engage with different Māori entities depending on the particular stage of the work involved. For example, some policy work involves initial high-level engagement with pan-Māori stakeholders (eg engagement by senior officials and/or ministers with the Iwi Chairs Forum and/or an Iwi Leaders Group). This initial engagement is usually aimed at discussing and testing high level policy objectives and outcomes. As this work progresses, engagement then tends to drop down a level as policy becomes more detailed and requires more focused and specific engagement with Māori entities that represent specific interests or perspectives (eg initial engagement with the Iwi Chairs Forum and Iwi Leaders Groups and then later engagement with Māori landowners or iwi/hapū).

Different ways of engaging

The form of the engagement between the Crown and Māori also varies greatly.

We identified a continuum of engagement, from formal engagement at one end of the spectrum to informal engagement at the other:

  • formal engagement – characterised as being proactive, official, organised, and prescribed engagement (eg formal meetings between ministers and government officials and Māori representatives and advisers, involving work plans, a relationship agreement, and/or a contractual arrangement)
  • informal engagement – characterised as being more relaxed, less organised and opportunistic/reactive engagement (eg responding to telephone or face-to-face enquiries from Māori individuals and/or stakeholders).

The form of the engagement is closely linked with the drivers for the engagement (ie the ‘form’ of the engagement closely follows the ‘function’ [drivers and purpose] of the engagement).

See Drivers for engagement for a discussion on the common drivers or motivators for engagement between the Crown and Māori.


Overall, the interview process highlighted that agencies are very flexible in regards to the entities that they are engaging with. This points towards a pragmatic Crown approach to engagement based on the issues being dealt with and the entities relevant to the issue at hand. Interviewees noted that pragmatic matters also influenced whom they engaged with such as:

  • those entities could best help with delivering the results or objectives being pursued by the agency
  • the influence and authority of the entity(ies) being engaged with.

The interview process highlighted that, by and large, agencies are quite open to the types of entities they engage with. Despite some engagement being quite ordered and structured, agencies outlined that across their broad work areas and programmes they are very open and flexible with the Māori entities that they engage with.


Drivers for engagement

Engagement is driven and motivated by a variety of things. Our interviews identified the following drivers for agencies to engage with Māori:

  • legislation
  • Treaty settlements
  • government strategies and programmes
  • opportunities for collaboration with specific Māori entities
  • government funding and administration.

In addition to these key drivers, we identified broader engagement with Māori on ad-hoc issues driven by various factors, see table 1.

Table 1

Key drivers for engagement for each of the agencies interviewed
Agency Legislation Treaty
Government strategies & programmes Collaboration
Government funding & administration
Department of Conservation √   
Department of Internal Affairs √  √   
Lakes District Health Board  √  √  √  √  √ 
Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment √  √  √  √   
Ministry for the Environment  √  √  √  √  √ 
Ministry for Primary Industries √  √  √  √  √ 
Ministry of Education √  √  √  √   
Ministry of Health  √  √     
Ministry of Justice  √  √  √     
Ministry of Social Development  √  √    √ 
Te Ohu Kaimoana √  √      √ 
Te Taura Whiri  √  √  √  √  √ 
Te Puni Kōkiri √  √  √  √ 


All the agencies we interviewed were governed by legislation that required or promoted engagement with Māori. Some legislation is very prescriptive, both in regards to the form and requirements of the engagement and the entity with which the engagement was required. This includes some legislation that requires a specific representative entity to be created for the purpose of engagement, for example Māori Fisheries Act 2004 that sets out requirements for establishing a mandated iwi organisations to represent iwi interests in fisheries allocation (Te Ohu Kaimoana, nd).

Other legislation is more wide-ranging and non-specific around Māori engagement, for example the Resource Management Act 1991 focuses on the consideration of Māori matters or values or the Treaty of Waitangi.

Other legislation is more open and vague, with Crown–Māori engagement by relevant agencies largely driven by a combination of factors (eg Education Act 1989).

Treaty settlements

All the agencies we interviewed engaged with Māori claimant groups (and their representative entities) as a result of a requirement (or several requirements) as set out in the relevant claimant group’s Treaty settlement.
The requirements for this engagement are normally outlined in the respective deed of settlement for the Māori claimant group, with more detail in a relationship instrument such as an accord, or a memorandum of understanding. These agreements are where ongoing engagement matters between the Crown and Māori claimant groups are commonly outlined and agreed.

The more formal, ongoing, and prescriptive engagement resulting from Treaty Settlements is a relatively new phenomenon. In earlier Treaty settlements, the focus of the settlement was around negotiating a settlement, and for the Crown and the respective Māori claimant group to ‘go their separate ways’ (ie the emphasis of the settlement was on a ‘full and final settlement’).

However, settlements nowadays are much more focused on negotiating a settlement and establishing relationship mechanisms for ongoing engagement between the Crown and the respective Māori claimant group. For example, since 2008 several accords have been negotiated as a result of settlements. These outline objectives and processes and procedures for regular and ongoing engagement between ministers, agencies, and Māori claimant groups – for example the Waikato-Tainui Waikato River fisheries Accord (Ministry for Primary Industries, 2009) and the multi-agency Social Development Accord, signed between the Crown and Te Hiku Iwi (Bennett, 2013).

Government strategies and programmes

We identified a category of engagement between agencies and Māori that was undertaken to advance the agency’s own strategies and plans. These strategies and plans tended to be medium to long-term in nature.

Engagement in this area tends to be driven by recognition of Māori as important stakeholders, and also as a means for an agency to reflect their Treaty of Waitangi responsibilities. This type of engagement is not necessarily underpinned by a specific requirement in legislation, explicit ministerial direction, or specific Treaty Settlement requirement. Several agencies discussed plans and strategies they led which drove this type of Māori engagement, for example, the Ministry of Education’s Māori Education Strategy: Ka Hikitia and the Ministry for the Environment’s Tūhono Strategy.

Opportunities for collaboration with specific Māori entities

Some of the agencies told us they were engaging with specific Māori entities to explore opportunities for collaborating and working together on projects that were of potential mutual interest and benefit. For example, targeted engagement occurring with Māori businesses and landowners to support the regional economic development work and primary production work that the government is promoting and supporting.

In these cases, the engagement seemed to be primarily driven by the relevant agencies and the opportunities they see for engaging with specific Māori entities to advance the policy programmes the agency is leading and promoting. This type of engagement appears to be more focused and targeted engagement by the Crown (ie engagement with those entities that have the capacity and capability to collaborate with the Crown on particular projects).

Government funding and administration

Most of the agencies we interviewed highlighted the engagement that they undertook with Māori around funding programmes, both with Māori entities as applicants for funding, and with Māori entities that are administrators of government funding.

Engagement as funding applicants tends to be operational in nature. The engagement tends to focus on ‘on-the ground’ service delivery and operational matters, and engagement usually takes place between technical and operational staff/entities.

Engagement around government funding administration tends to focus only on contract administration matters and service delivery issues. This engagement tends to be very focused and specific and involves more administrative and operational staff from the agency and entity.

Another aspect of government funding and administration is that there tends to be strict requirements around the entities that can be funded and the legal requirements and obligations of the entities that they fund. These funding requirements play a major role in determining who applies for and engages with government agencies for funding, see the Department of Internal Affairs’ Funding checklist for organisations.


Trends and changes around Crown–Māori engagement

The key trends and changes we observed around Crown–Māori engagement are:

  • Māori entities are consolidating their interests into bigger/fewer entities
  • Māori entities are amalgamating their interests, particularly for Treaty settlements
  • increasing prevalence of the Iwi Chairs Forum and Iwi Leaders Groups as a forum and a point of engagement
  • growing political and economic influence of Māori groups
  • bigger focus on improving alignment and coordination – both for/within the Crown and Māori.

Consolidating Māori groups and interests

Some agencies highlighted a trend for Māori groups to consolidate and combine their interests and/or assets, particularly from an administrative and business perspective. In particular:

  • reducing administrative burden (ie reducing the administrative and resourcing requirements associated with multiple entities by amalgamating them into a single entity. This was particular noticeable in the fisheries sector)
  • consolidating interests or assets to create sufficient scale (eg pooling Māori land assets or natural resource assets to create an economy of scale)
  • sharing costs, resources, expertise, capacity, and capability between entities
  • increasing competition and pressure on entities to perform (ie combining entities to ensure they are competitive).

The agencies that raised these issues focus on Māori business and the Māori economy. It is unclear whether this trend is present in other sectors such as the social, cultural, or environmental/natural resource sectors.

Amalgamating Māori groups

Some agencies noted the trend for Māori entities to amalgamate into collectives, particularly for Treaty settlement claims.

Agencies described how Māori claimant groups, consisting of many iwi and/or hapū sub-groups, had been formed to negotiate and settle joint Treaty settlement claims.

It appears that this trend for amalgamation is driven by:

  • the Crown’s preference for negotiating Treaty settlements with ‘large natural groupings’ (ie greater efficiency and effectiveness for the Crown in negotiating settlements with multiple entities) (Office of Treaty Settlements, 2014)
  • iwi/hapū groups seeing the advantages in being able to share costs, resources and expertise, and create negotiating leverage as part of a larger negotiating entity (ie ‘greater strength in numbers’).

Agencies noted that sub-groups of these collectives negotiated their own individual or specific claims as well (separate from any larger collective entity). In addition, agencies noted a pattern of iwi/hapū collectives disbanding to deal with issues on an individual basis, and later amalgamating to pursue issues of mutual interest and benefit. One interviewee commented that Māori have a common adversary in the Crown, so they have common ground and interests on which to come together and work together.

Increasing role of the Iwi Chairs Forum and Iwi Leaders Groups

Most agencies we interviewed discussed the emerging role of the Iwi Chairs Forum, and the various Iwi Leaders Groups, in regards to their engagement with Māori.

Agencies described how officials and ministers often engaged with iwi leaders – through the forum or the leaders groups – on specific policy or work areas. The leaders groups consist of leaders from various iwi groups and entities who work with government on Māori policy issues on the behalf of the Iwi Chairs Forum on issues associated with:

  • fresh water
  • constitutional reforms
  • iwi collectives
  • climate change
  • conservation
  • Whānau Ora
  • Mātauranga Māori
  • housing
  • oil and minerals
  • foreign charter vessels
    (Iwi Chairs Forum, nd).

Agencies noted that the Iwi Chairs Forum and the Iwi Leaders Groups are a growing political force because they represent various iwi/hapū groups, and provide a regular forum for discussing and engaging on various issues. The forum is seen as representing a significant collective of resources/interests and is able to provide a fairly united front on key issues with Government and ministers.

The interviewees saw the forum and leaders groups as able to wield significant political influence with Government and ministers.

Despite the growing prominence of the forum and leaders groups, agencies reinforced that they do not represent all Māori. In general, the representatives on the forum and leaders groups represent their own iwi/hapū and do not purport to represent the interests of other Māori or all Māori. As a result, agencies saw them as a good forum for initial high-level Crown–Māori engagement, but not a substitute or replacement for broader engagement with the many other entities and groups that represent Māori and their interests.

Growing political and economic influence of Māori entities

Many agencies commented on the growing political and economic influence of Māori.

They noted that iwi entities are receiving significant assets and financial redress through Treaty settlements, which gives them significant economic influence within their regions. Some Māori entities are collaborating with other Māori entities to gather resources and undertake joint projects.

This trend is evident in the Māori economic development work that Government is undertaking. Iwi/hapū groups that have settled their Treaty claims as well as other Māori stakeholders are seen as key drivers in facilitating regional economic growth in their regions/rohe. One interviewee noted that settled iwi/hapū groups also ‘had the ear’ of many ministers and key stakeholders, which made them influential stakeholders within their communities, particularly in relation to regional economic development.

These factors are seen as allowing a number of Māori entities to exert significant economic and political influence. Some of the bigger settled iwi, such as Ngai Tahu and Waikato-Tainui, are seen as powerful and influential entities. In addition, groups such as the Iwi Chairs Forum, and the various Iwi Leaders Groups, are combining to make Māori an influential political force.

In line with this growing economic and political influence, it is likely that Māori entities are going to become more interested in statistical information for Māori to enable them to measure the effectiveness of their developments. Government agencies are also going to be more interested in statistics for Māori to enable them to measure Māori development relative to the rest of the population, as well as gaining an insight into the effectiveness of government programmes and initiatives for Māori.

Improving the alignment and coordination of Crown–Māori engagement

A number of the agencies noted initiatives underway that focus on improving alignment and coordination of Crown–Māori engagement – both within individual agencies and across multiple agencies.

These include:

  • a recently established Crown–Māori engagement project within the Natural Resources Sector focused on better coordinating engagement with Māori within and across this sector (Ministry for the Environment, nd)
  • a government Chief Executives Forum for Crown–Māori engagement, focused on strategic issues regarding Crown–Māori engagement across the government
  • cross-agency work, led by Te Puni Kōkiri, which is exploring the Treaty in a post-settlement era and the future of the Crown’s relationship with iwi, hapū, and whanau; and how government agencies need to adapt.

Some agencies commented about work they were doing to improve the alignment and coordination of their Māori engagement – primarily within their agency, but also in collaboration with other agencies.

‘One Crown’ approach

One interviewee commented on their agency’s desire to take a ‘One Crown’ approach to Crown–Māori engagement and how they were looking at creating opportunities for joint Māori engagement with other agencies (eg joined-up Crown–Māori engagement though a single forum for discussing multiple issues between agencies and Māori).

Coordinated approach efficient

The coordinated approaches to Crown–Māori engagement were lauded as being efficient for all parties, and also better reflecting the wide scope of interests held by Māori that span multiple agencies and work programmes. Agencies noted that a more coordinated approach to engagement was needed in order to ensure consistency across agencies of both the methods of engagement and messaging (see also Statistics NZ, 2014).

One interviewee commented about their agency’s desire to consolidate their multiple engagement forum with Māori entities, into a single forum with multiple Māori entities. As an example, the agency currently undertakes separate standardised workshops with individual Māori claimant groups. However, the agency saw the potential for these workshops to be combined so that a single large workshop could be held with many Māori claimant groups.

This agency saw that there were both cost savings and efficiency benefits from this approach, plus opportunities for the Māori claimant groups to build relationships with one another and share their experiences and expertise. This agency was also investigating the development of a web-based engagement tool that could be used by their staff as a database for ensuring better consistency and awareness about their agency’s multiple strands of Māori engagement.

Whānau Ora’s cross-government approach

Interviewees commented on the Whānau Ora programme’s approach to promoting greater consistency and alignment in Crown–Māori engagement. This key cross-government work programme is integrating and devolving service delivery of health, education, and social services to Māori service providers (Ministry of Health, nd).

Whānau Ora is pushing the boundaries for Government around coordination and delivery across the various sectors, and as a result each of the contributing agencies is focused on better aligning their Crown–Māori engagement under this programme to enable a joined-up, aligned, and collaborative approach to overall delivery.

Crown–Māori engagement based on partnership

Interviewees also raised the Government’s ongoing response to the Waitangi Tribunal’s ‘WAI 262’ report, Ko Aotearoa tēnei (Waitangi Tribunal, 2011) as a key issue. Of particular concern was how Government worked to ensure a coordinated response to their work and engagement with Māori.

Ko Aotearoa tēnei outlines the many Māori interests and issues relating to flora and fauna, cultural property and taonga, and intellectual property rights. It recommends wide-ranging reforms to laws and policies affecting Māori culture and identity. It is the Tribunal's first whole-of-government report, and addresses the work of more than 20 government departments and agencies.

Ko Aotearoa tēnei calls for the Crown-Māori relationship to move beyond grievance, as characterised by the Treaty settlement process, to a new era of Crown–Māori engagement based on partnership.

The work being undertaken by the recently established Post Settlement Commitments Unit (PSCU) at the Ministry of Justice (2014) is another example of an initiative by the Crown to ensure better Crown–Māori engagement, particularly in regards to ensuring the Crown is appropriately honouring its commitments in Treaty settlements.

The PSCU was established to monitor what is happening across the Crown in regards to engagement and commitments around Treaty settlements. Having the PSCU acting as a central point of control and oversight is seen as a key mechanism for ensuring consistency of approach to meeting Treaty Settlement commitments across the Crown.


Statistical information requirements

Agencies had different perspectives around the statistical information requirements for supporting their engagement with Māori.

Many interviewees believed there are good statistics and information available at a high level from within their agency, from other agencies, and from Statistics NZ. However, another recurring comment was that the information available is not well known or well understood, especially by Māori. In addition, interviewees who were more regular ‘data users’ identified some issues and gaps with the statistical information they dealt with or were familiar with.

Request for more specificity and detail

A key overarching comment from agencies in regards to their statistical information requirements was a desire for more specificity and detail, and the ability to tailor the information for their specific needs.

There was a common call for more detailed information and statistics than that currently provided by the iwi classification. For example, many agencies were keen on hapū level statistics and data, and some were keen to have a better understanding of ‘taurahere’ or non-affiliated Māori populations (ie Māori who may reside in a certain area but have ancestral ties to another area/region– sometimes referred to as urban Māori).

Some agencies were keen on being able to derive information and statistics at a regional or defined area level so that information could be described and presented for specific areas. Others expressed a desire for information on Māori populations versus non-Māori populations.

Māori business

Agencies involved in resource development and economic development were interested in information and statistics about Māori business and resource holding entities (ie Māori businesses and Māori trusts/incorporations and asset holding entities).

These agencies had a big focus on Māori economic development and they were keen for more information and statistics around the Māori economy and Māori assets – both at a micro and macro level.

Holistic data

Agencies, particularly those involved in Whānau Ora programme, identified the need for holistic data, to reflect the more holistic perspective and worldview of the Māori they were engaging with. One interviewee commented about the need for more holistic monitoring of the Māori population: How do we measure Māori being healthy, wealthy, and wise?

Māori capability and statistical information

Another issue noted by a majority of the agencies was the lack of Māori capability to use and understand statistical information. This was identified as a key hurdle for Crown–Māori engagement, and a number of agencies were looking at how they could share resources and expertise to alleviate this issue for their Māori stakeholders.

Overall statistics system

Many interviewees commented about the overall information and statistics system. Some of the comments were also directed at how Statistics NZ could potentially play in role in addressing some of the issues raised.

Comments about the overall statistics system included:

  • the need for more regular collection of information and more long-term data (by agencies and Statistics NZ)
  • better consistency of information and data within and across government, with Statistics NZ providing leadership in this area
  • better information collection, and use of this information, by agencies to support their work and to enable them to track the impact of their work
  • the need to provide and maintain good open access to information so that it can be accessed, used. and analysed
  • Statistics NZ being involved in the Māori engagement undertaken by other government agencies to provide a first-hand perspective of some of the engagement issues and information needs
  • Statistics NZ being more transparent and promoting greater awareness of the organisation, the information it holds, and the services it can provide
  • Statistics NZ being more responsive in its statistical information collection regarding emerging Māori entities and groups.

See Pare Consulting Ltd (2010) for further discussion of the issues around the overall statistics system.

Iwi classification not meeting needs

Overall, it became evident from the interviews that the information being collected by Statistics NZ is useful at a high-level, but does not fully reflect or cater for the varied and detailed information needs of agencies.

The iwi classification does not reflect the many Māori entities that agencies are regularly engaging with and the potential statistical information requirements for these various Māori entities.

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