Maintaining Māori identity and governance - observations from the land of hot springs and mud pools

Presented by ANU College of Arts & Social Sciences

Māori of New Zealand have had varied experiences of colonisation which are often viewed from a large tribal (iwi) perspective. However the hapū (sub-tribe) is the key cultural and economic group within Māori society. This presentation will explore the history and contemporary experiences of one hapū from the central North Island.

There will be a brief overview of the history of this hapū (Ngati Hurungaterangi), who did not sign the Treaty of Waitangi and gifted large tracts of land to establish the Rotorua township. From this constitutional starting point of partnership, the hapū have struggled to maintain their lands, environment and cultural traditions in the face of urbanisation and industrialisation.

The seminar will provide a case study of some of the contemporary issues facing the hapū including the taking of land for a highway in an area of unique cultural and environmental significance and the effects of environmental pollution and industrialisation such as the loss of food sources.

The seminar will also review of some of the macro legal-political challenges for hapū including governance, land utilisation, resource management law, the resolution of historical claims, overlapping claims with other hapū and iwi and representation within wider iwi bodies.

The key theme will be an exploration of hapū cultural and environmental sustainability in a situation which is not designed to address the rights and interests of smaller tribal groupings.

Tamara Mutu (LLM(Hons), BSocSc) is of Te Arawa and Ngāi Tahu descent. In her legal career she worked initially as a solicitor for New Zealand’s Ministry of Transport, focussing on public law and legislative development. She subsequently worked for different Māori organisations involving the restoration of the Waikato river, the negotiation of Treaty of Waitangi claims and the management of Māori-owned land blocks. Recently she has been actively involved in advocacy and representation for her hapū in contentious environmental issues.