Adaptive Governance and Policy

This investment tackles the ways in which governance and policy need to change to better protect te taiao (the environment).

This research is Active

Overview Te Tirohanga Whānui

At the moment, there are many core issues with regional and national governance and policies that fail to protect, and sometimes directly endanger, the wellbeing of our biodiversity and the integrity of our biosecurity system.

The people closest to nature currently find it difficult to get their knowledge and values recognised. They are often not included or resourced to participate in strategic, local or national decisions that would make a difference to biological heritage. This is particularly the case for mana whenua who, as kaitiaki, are often involved with bioheritage protection and advocacy for the environment.

The Adaptive Governance & Policy team aims to ‘break the mould’ and build new systems, policies and capability that will provide much greater protection to our bioheritage. This includes embracing Treaty relationships with Māori and investigating the many opportunities for the environment that can arise when government engages in co-design of policy and co-governance of natural resources. The team will study what does and doesn’t work in Aotearoa when it comes to redistributing authority, decision-making abilities and responsibility.

Research Area Summary Te Whakarāpopototanga Kaupapa

  1. Understanding different governance models that support good environmental outcomes.
  2. Tools to inform environmentally sustainable businesses.
  3. Tools to better co-design and partner with Māori.

Highlights Ngā Mahi Whakahirahira

The main highlight from this research programme is Me Tū ā-Uru: for a flourishing and abundant environment.

Left To Right Working Group Tasman Gillies, Erin Matariki Carr, Ellie Tapsell, Maria Bargh, Carwyn Jones, Oliver Mcmillan (missing Carly O'connor)
Left to right: Me Tū ā-Uru Working Group – Tasman Gillies, Erin Matariki Carr, Ellie Tapsell, Maria Bargh, Carwyn Jones, Oliver McMillan (missing Carly O’Connor).

Me Tū-ā-Uru is an action plan created to address the inter-related crises we all face, such as climate change, biodiversity decline, poverty and homelessness. The vision guiding this action plan is:

A flourishing and abundant taiao that sustains and nurtures all people of Aotearoa. Tangata whenua and tangata Tiriti valuing, being informed by, and in good relationships with Papatūānuku, and each other.

Recommendations within the report specifically target the governance of te taiao, but many can also be applied to other aspects of life. They are grouped under four themes: Whanaungatanga (relationships); Utu (balance and reciprocity); Mātauranga (knowledge and ways of seeing); and Mana and Rangatiratanga (authority with care).

You can follow our mahi on LinkedIn and Facebook, or click the logo to read the full action plan and see our official website:

Mtau Logo

Co-leads Ngā kaiārahi ngātahi

Maria Bargh

Maria Bargh

Maria Bargh

Te Arawa (Ngāti Kea/Ngāti Tuarā), Ngāti Awa
Victoria University of Wellington
Carwyn Jones

Carwyn Jones

Carwyn Jones

Ngāti Kahungunu
Te Wānanga o Raukawa

Resource outputs from this programme


Resourcing rangatiratanga as part of constitutional transformation: taking equity and sovereignty seriously

This study explores possibilities for resourcing rangatiratanga, or Indigenous self-determination. We start by illustrating the role of taxation in erasing Indigenous sovereignty to first establish…
View Publication

Co-Governance and the Case for Shared Decision Making

This article explores some of the key features of co-governance, or shared decision making, between Māori and the Crown. Co-governance models create the conditions for…
View Publication
Policy Briefing

Steps towards authentic Te Tiriti o Waitangi relationships at a local government level

The Review into the Future for Local Government (The Review) is an independent review exploring new approaches to local governance where communities can “prosper and…
View Policy Briefing

Caring for our special places and relationships

This guidance presents a briefing on the research undertaken by Tapsell (2022) which explored the dual issue of care (for each other and for the…
View Report

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