Indigenous and scientific knowledge to manage Aotearoa New Zealand’s marine estate

Dr Karen Fisher1, Dr Kate Davies2

1University Of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand

2NIWA, Hamilton, New Zealand


The institutional arrangements to manage the coastal/marine space in Aotearoa New Zealand is highly fragmented and gives rise to contestations that are both spatial and temporal.  At present, the focus is on managing effects, including cumulative effects, across land and sea and regulating activities largely on a case-by-case basis.  Resource consents, marine consents and individual transferable quota act to secure access to resources for individuals and entities.  The assumption is that, by managing the effects of a particular activity, then cumulative effects are implicitly addressed.  Taken separately, these regimes go some way to regulating access and use of resources to ensure sustainability; however, in reality, there are numerous failures that prevent this from taking place. In this paper, I consider how science and indigenous knowledge (mātauranga Maori) intersect with institutional arrangements to address cumulative effects.  I focus in particular on the need to find ways to understand the cumulative effects of multiple stressors on sites and practices that have cultural, spiritual and metaphysical significance for Māori.


Karen Fisher is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Environment, University of Auckland.  Her research focuses on environmental governance of freshwater and marine resources in Aotearoa New Zealand, the role of Maori in post-Treaty settlement arrangements, and Indigenous ontologies and epistemologies.

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