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Indigenous peoples’ attitudes and social acceptability of invasive species control in New Zealand

December 2021

Publication: Pacific Conservation Biology
Author(s): Black A, Garner G, Mark-Shadbolt M, Balanovic J, MacDonald E, Mercier O, Wright J.


In Aotearoa New Zealand, a significant threat to biodiversity, conservation efforts and Indigenous cultural identity is the unwanted introduction of invasive pests, plants and pathogens. Currently methods to control invasive species in Aotearoa New Zealand, in particular mammalian pests (i.e. possums (Trichosurus vulpecula)) have had decreasing public support. This has likely come about for a number of reasons, including lack of social engagement and concerns over impacts combined with an increasing distrust of top-down initiatives.

Aims and methods

We analysed opinions towards existing and emerging technologies to manage invasive species. Data were obtained from 1015 respondents who identified as Indigenous Māori from a national survey of 8199 respondents. Utilising psychological frameworks to investigate underlying beliefs of social acceptance, we analysed the responses using exploratory and latent class analysis methods to summarise the main perspectives.

Key results

Our results revealed four distinct clusters of viewpoints within Māori respondents that were explained by known (objective) and subjective scientific knowledge around pest control methods, and Indigenous community wellbeing. We also observed a general neutrality in trust towards science, but more trust in scientists than science institutions.

Conclusions and implications

Understanding the underlying values and viewpoints associated with pest control and including these in developing engagement plans will ensure a responsible process that empowers Māori. This way forward is key to sustain pathways of engagement and positive participation in decision-making.

Research that produced this output

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