Source: Environmental Protection Authority
Chief Executive Dr Allan Freeth says the Mātauranga Framework is the first of its kind to be developed for a New Zealand regulator.
“As an environmental regulator this framework has been developed to help us understand, test and probe mātauranga when it is presented in evidence.
Ensuring that Te Ao Māori is incorporated in our work was a commitment I made when joining the EPA in 2015. So, today I am considerably proud of the framework’s launch.I thank those who’ve helped us reach this point in our journey, particularly Ngā Kaihautū Tikanga Taiao, Te Herenga, and Ngā Parirau o te Mātauranga. It has truly been partnership in action.”
The Principal Advisor in Kaupapa Kura Taiao, the EPA’s Maori Advisory team, Erica Gregory, says there is no one definition for mātauranga, but it could be described as a unique knowledge and understanding of Te Taiao – the natural environment.
“It has its own unique characteristics that are as valid as, but different from, other knowledge systems including science. A simple example of mātauranga would be the Māori consideration that when a pōhutukawa tree is in blossom it is also a good time to harvest kina.”
The primary goals of the mātauranga programme are to:
- Enable well-informed decision-making.
- Ensure the EPA understands the issues and implications of mātauranga for its decision making processes.
- Increase the understanding of mātauranga across the EPA.
Jim Doherty, who recently stepped down from Ngā Kaihautū Tikanga Taiao, the EPA’s Māori Advisory Committee, says the EPA has spent the last three years developing the framework, consulting a wide range of sources including academics, judges, kaitiaki and environmental resource practitioners to name a few.
“For many years EPA decision-makers were confident to turn over the stones of familiar knowledge systems and scrutinise what lies beneath, but their confidence and ability to turn over the stones of Māori perspectives was limited. This new framework will provide decision-makers and staff the tools to assess mātauranga evidence more effectively.”
The EPA plans to implement mātauranga into its decision-making, policies and processes by June 2021.
While the Mātauranga Framework is a new EPA initiative, as a routine part of our work at the EPA, Kaupapa Kura Taiao – our Māori Policy and Operations Group – provides guidance to iwi and applicants during the engagement process. Alongside our business groups, it also raises awareness with iwi of the role of the EPA and on how to engage and participate in the decision-making processes of the EPA. Our National Māori Network, Te Herenga, is a forum for kaitiaki and environmental resource managers to come together and discuss important environmental issues.