Institute for Governance and Policy Studies


Many commentators see the signalled 2014 end of the historical Treaty settlements process as ushering in a new era in Crown-Māori relations.  Rather than focusing on the resolution of past grievances – which have defined the relationship for a generation – the Crown and Māori should in theory be able to switch attention to forward-looking matters such as social service delivery, resource management, constitutional arrangements, and so on.  With their settlement funds, as it is often put, Māori will be able to shift from ‘grievance mode’ to ‘productive mode’, from litigation to wealth creation.

In reality, however, many of the 'post-settlement' discussions are occurring already, often in the context of historical claim negotiations.  Co-management agreements, cultural heritage accords, annual summits between iwi leaders and ministers, and memoranda of understanding between iwi and a variety of government departments are all the by-products of the historical settlements process.  Iwi have sought to leverage off the settlement process to gain such concessions in the contemporary relationship, while the political will that exists to make settlements has usually seen the Crown prepared to oblige.

In other words, there is no clear-cut ‘post-settlement’ era or set of agreed issues.  Rather, what we can observe are the ongoing dynamics of the Crown-Māori relationship.  Where the completion of settlements will make a clear difference, however, is that the convenient levers for establishing these new relationships will be gone.  Into the future, the nation will have to front up to defining the Crown-Māori relationship on its own terms, and without any recourse to the relatively protected environment of historical settlements.  That this process will often be fraught can be seen in the intense debate over such matters as the foreshore and seabed, the provision of Māori seats in the new Auckland supercity, and the Government’s support of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The issues that will continue to arise in the Crown-Māori relationship are all large, complex, and often very difficult conceptually and politically.  In relation to many of them there are strongly entrenched viewpoints, and in some cases there will be major difficulties in finding any consensus.  Many issues will be solved through political wrangling rather than informed debate.  It is against this background that we are undertaking this EIP project. 

Who has been involved

This has been a joint venture between the Institute of Policy Studies and Te Kawa a Maui (Māori Studies) at Victoria University.  On a day-to-day basis the project was run by Paul Hamer with Paul Callister having overall responsibility.


The wider objectives of this project have been:

to provide the policy community and the wider public with a better understanding of emerging Crown-M?ori relationships; to help inform the design of institutions and policies that support the continuing development of a prosperous, cohesive and fair society for Maori and non-Maori.

However, more specifically we have aimed to:

bring together a diverse set of high quality analysis which will focus on topics that are considered of importance in the emerging Crown-M?ori relationships; stimulate informed public debate around these issues.

What we have done

We have commissioned a set of short papers (around 1,200 words) representing a diversity of viewpoints around each of five questions:

The questions are:

Question 1: How will the Treaty relationship be conceived of in 50 years’ time given changing demographics and the lasting effects of the current historical settlements?

Question 2: What will be the implications of New Zealand support for, and possible ratification of, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples?

Question 3: Should there be separate M?ori representation (seats) in parliament and on local authorities alongside other consultative mechanisms?

Question 4: Are iwi in the post-settlement environment on an equal footing after their Treaty settlements, in terms of the types of redress that were on the table and the adherence to relativities at the time of their negotiations? Are settlements ‘fair and durable’?

Question 5: How will iwi/Crown co-management of resources play out? Are there potential conflicts of interest in iwi being managers, guardians and also developers? And how different is this to the Crown being in all three roles?

There was no attempt to develop a consensus in these papers. The papers are published on a specifically developed website, with links off botth the Te Kawa a M?ui and the Institute for Governance and Policy Studies websites. It is open to public, but moderated, commentary. This website will be 'live' onĀ  the evening of 14th June, 2011.

In addition to the opinion pieces, the website includes a background paper outlining the changing demography of New Zealand.