Relational values provide common ground and expose multi- level constraints to cross- cultural wetland management
The Challenge is pleased to be able to support Corinne Bataille in her ongoing commitment to working with tangata tiaki and growing valuable social-ecological research capacity in Aotearoa New Zealand. The aim of Corinne’s PhD research was to identify how Māori environmental management might be supported to help reverse the decline of Aotearoa’s biodiversity.
“I wanted to know what different interest groups’ values and aspirations were regarding wetlands to inform wetland governance and management. I interviewed members from four groups: Ngāi Tahu tangata tiaki (Māori environmental guardians), landowners, Crown representatives, and recreational hunters. I was interested in understanding what factors might facilitate kaitiakitanga (i.e., Māori environmental guardianship) in the context of wetlands. I also wanted to know what issues might prevent all groups from realising their values and aspirations (e.g. diverging management priorities between groups). A first paper published in People and Nature discusses tangata tiaki and landowner values regarding wetlands, and the issues they face in fulfilling these values.”
In social science, consideration of a researcher’s background is important because of the way prior theoretical knowledge and cultural perspective can influence idea development, interviewing of participants, data analysis, and interpretation of information.
“I was born and educated in France, following which I lived in England, Australia and Aotearoa. I have a special interest in engaging with different cultures and understanding intergroup relations, having lived in different countries and engaged with people from diverse cultural backgrounds and social circles.”
Throughout this research, Corinne engaged in personal reflexivity, where she reflected upon how her personal background, including her values, experiences, or beliefs, influence the research and how the research has been, and will be, impacting her as a person and as a researcher.
“I have a passion for social justice and for exploring what might contribute to human well-being. This includes attempting to understand and have empathy for any new culture that I work with, especially regarding the social justice history of the people.”
Corinne was mindful of her assumptions about knowledge and of the ways in which the research is being conducted, which may limit or enhance what can be discovered.
“At the start of my PhD journey in 2016, despite having some understanding of Pākehā (European New Zealand) culture, my understanding and experience of Māori culture was very limited. Starting my PhD was the catalyst for learning more about te ao Māori (the Māori world) and te reo Māori (the Māori language). To me, starting to learn te reo Māori was essential because language is the vehicle of culture, without which a culture cannot be fully understood. There were practical considerations too, such as wanting to engage in meaningful conversations with my Māori research team members and Māori participants. Therefore, I enrolled into three te reo Māori papers at the University of Canterbury.”
While developing and conducting her interviews, Corinne ensured that her questions mainly remained open-ended and invited reflection from the participants.
“I attended seminars about wetland management and read about waterfowl hunting in Aotearoa in order to get an understanding of issues related to water quality and wetland use, and to be in a position to ask informed questions during interviews and research team meetings”.
Most importantly, Corinne worked in partnership with a Ngāi Tahu Advisory Committee made up of 12 iwi members who provided direction, guidance, and support for the research.
“In this research, it was particularly important that I became familiar with the kinds of issues iwi are facing in managing their resources, particular as they relate to self-determination.”
“Three Ngāi Tahu tangata tiaki and NTAC members Iaean, Joe and Makarini, and I travelled to Vancouver to present my preliminary research findings at the Society of Ethnobiology Conference. The trip was an opportunity for us all to get to know each other on a more personal basis, but also to share knowledge and experiences on Indigenous customary approaches and practices and build lasting connections with First Nations peoples.”
Why this research matters:
Social science has been increasingly recognised as key to addressing environmental issues, especially as different groups often engage with each other in the same natural environments. Groups might have different values and aspirations, which can lead to conflict. Since people’s values and attitudes influence the decisions they make, being aware of their values and the issues they face can inform policy makers. For example, potential areas of common ground can be identified, which can guide groups in their collaboration efforts.
Originally from Normandy (France), Corinne Bataille lived in the UK for 15 years where she worked as an Account and Production Manager in the print industry. In 2008, she moved to Ōtautahi Christchurch with her partner and two children, and retuned to university to study psychology. She holds a BA (Hons) in Applied Languages from the University of Caen (France), and a Grad Dip Sc in Psychology, Master of Science in Applied Psychology, and PhD in Management from the University of Canterbury (Aotearoa).
Corinne was supervised by Associate Professor Sanna Malinen from the University of Canterbury, Dr Phil Lyver from Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research, Dr Johanna Yletyinen from the University of Jyväskylä (Finland), Nigel Scott from Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, and the Ngāi Tahu Advisory Committee.
Bataille, C. Y., Malinen, S. K., Yletyinen, J., Scott, N., & Lyver, P. O. ‘. B. (2021). Relational values provide common ground and expose multi- level constraints to cross- cultural wetland management. People and Nature, 3, 941– 960. https://doi.org/10.1002/pan3.10244