One of the iwi at the forefront of co-governance attempts in New Zealand has revealed the challenges involved in the process.
Ngai Tūhoe don’t see co-governance as the final answer. Instead, “it’s the next bus stop in a journey that has to be made”, according to an iwi leader.
In 2014, as part of their Treaty Settlement, the former Te Urewera National Park was returned to Tūhoe to run in partnership with the Department of Conservation.
Tāmati Kruger (Taneatua) is the chairperson of Tūhoe Te Uru Taumatua and was the tribe’s Chief Negotiator for the 2014 Treaty settlement.
He told Q+A's Whena Owen that the co-governance relationship with the Crown has had its challenges.
“The Department of Conservation and Tūhoe, they do come from different places – ideologies, philosophies, culture, language, practice – and so in the seven years we have found the collision points of those, and we’ve tried our very best, both parties, to work those things out.”
He thinks 2022 is a good time to review the arrangement. He’s hoping to meet with Conservation Minister Kiri Allan and her officials this year “and having an honest assessment of how our post-settlement relationship has carried on. And both of us, I think, are willing to work on improving it".
The Minister and the Department both declined to speak to Q+A.
Outside of Tūhoe’s rohe, Kruger has been keeping a watchful on conversations about co-governance.
“I am sad that there are people are frightened by that, that see that as some kind of robbery that it will steal something from them. It is not robbery. It is not theft.”
He says co-governance is not the goal.
“Co-governance is not our term. Mana Motuhake is our term. So we are committed to washing away dependency on the Crown, and raising maximum authority for Tuhoe people," he said.
“I don’t see it as the final destination. I don’t see co-governance as the answer. But I think it’s the next bus stop in a journey that has to be made. It’s everyone’s journey. It’s like gravity, you can’t defy it. It’s on its way.”