Cultural Values Assessments. Negotiating kāwanatanga and rangatiratanga through local government planning processes in Aotearoa, New Zealand: a review of the literature

Claire Gooder
Auckland Council Research and Evaluation Unit, RIMU
Publication date:

This literature review considers the intersection between indigenous knowledge and local government planning regimes as expressed through the Cultural Values Assessment (CVA) process that is part of the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA).

This review focuses on the use of CVAs within a local government context, but recognises that they have broader application than this. Within a local government context, CVAs are documents prepared by mana whenua to assist local authority planners in decisions regarding resource consents. They are an example of a planning tool that facilitates engagement between local authorities and mana whenua. CVAs outline a range of information, including past, present and future cultural values and aspirations associated with the natural resources of an area. The CVA process cannot be understood outside its broader context. This literature review is designed to contribute to the assessment of mana whenua values and interests by placing CVAs within the literature on colonisation, Crown/Māori interaction, the Treaty of Waitangi, mātauranga Māori, Māori and Western planning models, and indigenous rights.

Drawing from the literature on boundary objects and negotiated space, the CVA process can be seen as sites of interaction that may provide an opportunity to bring together different knowledge systems and worldviews based on respect and recognition. The CVA process and the documents themselves can be described as a meeting place for multiple worldviews – they have the potential to have multiple meanings to different people. For mana whenua, the information within a CVA draws from mātauranga Māori and is intended to open a conversation or negotiation; it is an invitation to an ongoing relationship. For planners and applicants, CVAs are one assessment among a range of statutory requirements that must be completed to satisfy the resource consent process of a local authority, and in compliance with the RMA. The meanings attributed to CVAs are indicative of different worldviews and knowledge paradigms.

This topic represents a complex mix of practical, ideological and governance challenges that are inherently political. Resource management involves the challenge of finding ways of promoting the sustainable development of Aotearoa New Zealand’s natural resources. This is complicated by the different approaches to framing the issue of resource management, including from the perspectives of Te Ao Māori (Māori world) and Te Ao Pākehā (Western world). The literature on decolonising planning provides both theoretical and operational arguments for recognising and redressing these underlying issues of governance through structural change and the sharing of political power. This literature shows that mātauranga Māori and practices from Te Ao Māori cannot be simply tacked on to a system that remains firmly Western. The Treaty of Waitangi is at the heart of this topic; honouring the spirit of the Treaty necessitates balancing kāwanatanga and rangatiratanga.

A report from the Auckland Council Research and Evaluation Unit research project, Improving the assessment of mana whenua cultural values and interests.

Auckland Council technical report TR2018/008

Last updated: 2018-05-18