Equal partnership with Maori needed in climate strategy
The Climate Change Commission’s strategy will never be ambitious enough as long as it excludes Maori, according to Maori Climate Commissioner Donna Awatere Huata.
In responding to the Climate Change Commission’s first draft budget, the Office of the Maori Climate Commissioner highlighted that, while the commission focuses on a number of initiatives that will require working with Maori, Maori have had no role as an equal partner under Te Tiriti in setting the strategy and highlighting the contribution Maori can make.
Commissioner Awatere Huata says while the commission has made some progress in terms of setting out the first steps to be taken to restore and heal Papatuanuku, it also asked whether its plans were ambitious enough.
“Our answer is that it will never be while it excludes Maori from its strategies and the resulting legislation and regulations,” says Commissioner Awatere Huata.
“Not only is this insulting to Maori in terms of the value we can bring to the table, it is naive, given the strength of our economy, the leadership our businesses could demonstrate on how to take low carbon action, and our knowledge and world view that better aligns to the vision and direction required for Aotearoa to achieve zero carbon.”
Commissioner Awatere Huata says there is still time for Maori to take the commission’s blueprint and overlay their design recommendations, if a series of structured hui were held around the motu.
“While we appreciate the commission is operating to a timetable, this is too important for all our futures, and the status of the partnership between Maori and the Crown, to not be taken seriously.”
Commissioner Awatere Huata says there are three roles in this journey for Maori.
“By leading and co-designing we can bring better alignment with the Maori world view, while also bringing the weight of the Maori economy to the table to equally invest and take action to sustainably achieve the low carbon pathway.”
“Maori will also bring innovation and best practice based on our unique whakapapa, tikanga and hapu rangatiratanga.”
“And because we know Maori will be disproportionately affected by climate impacts and the transition to a low carbon economy, Maori should lead the development of support that is accessible and relevant.”
Commissioner Awatere Huata says Maori participation in the low-carbon economy could have significant benefits for the country and Maori.
“For example, we are the owners of much of the marginal land that could give a head start to Aotearoa in terms of its low carbon trajectory by growing trees for carbon — reflecting practices that will be sustainable and favour native and regenerating native planting practices,” says Commissioner Awatere Huata.
“Maori are also leaders in sustainable investment in the energy sector — for example in wind, solar and geothermal generation. Maori values align with further investment in this type of infrastructure to support our low carbon trajectory.”
Commissioner Awatere Huata says the benefit in working in equality with Maori is that in setting the strategy, legislation, regulations, initiatives, targets, measurements and interventions, Aotearoa will follow an inclusive, collaborative and world-leading path to delivering a low carbon and sustainable economy.
“As the commission refines its work and finalises its advice, we ask that they prepare for and maintain open minds to Maori coming to the table, taking their seat and providing input to their blueprint by adding a Matauranga perspective.”
“This will mean that the minister can deliver a truly inclusive and actionable strategy that is fit for purpose for all of Aotearoa.”