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WHAT NEXT FOR THE GOVERNMENT’S NEW AGENCY - MĀORI CROWN RELATIONS: TE ARAWHITI?
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The Government this week announced the establishment of a new agency entitled: Māori Crown Relations: Te Arawhiti. The agency will help facilitate the next step in the Treaty relationship between Māori and the Crown.

Not a huge amount of detail on the new agency has been relased at this stage. However, it is known that it will consolidate a number of different Government offices and units including the Office of Treaty Settlements and the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Team.[1] 

The separate agency will aim to bring a sharper focus to the relationship between the Crown and Māori, working externally with iwi to help realise their aspirations from settlement. The agency will also work internally across government agencies to ensure they are able to act consistently with their obligations under Te Tiriti.

According to the recently appointed Minister of Crown-Māori relations, Kelvin Davis, the agency will be responsible for the completion of Treaty Settlements and for the oversight of applications made under the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Act 2011. Furthermore, it will provide strategic leadership across the public sector to: [2]

  • ensure the Crown meets its Treaty obligations;
  • develop a new engagement model and guidelines for the Government and public sector;
  • co-design partnerships, principles and frameworks to ensure that agencies generate the best solutions to issues affecting Māori;
  • ensure public sector capability is strengthened across the board;
  • provide a cross Government view on the health of the Māori / Crown partnerships;
  • provide strategic leadership on contemporary Treaty issues;
  • oversee other matters including the constitutional and institutional arrangements supporting partnerships between the Crown and Māori; and
  • continue to take the lead in organising significant Māori and Crown events, including Waitangi Day.

According to Mr Davis, “Māori and the Crown want this portfolio to be about aspiration, and looking forward, in the post-settlement era.”[3] The agency has been named Te Arawhiti to reflect a transitional period in settlements under Te Tiriti.[4]

Many iwi struggle to maintain consistent relationships with government departments / agencies after settlement has occured. Therefore, it is timely that such an agency is established to act as a connection between te ao Māori and the Crown, so they can work together to realise aspirations of iwi generally, with a focus on the future and on moving forward as partners.

The establishment of this agency recognises the growing development and influence of Māori collectives, not only commercially, but in the environmental, social and cultural spheres. This agency allows the Government to engage with Māori on difficult issues in a manner that is consistent with their obligations under Te Tiriti, for example the debate surrounding interests in water, and also in relation to customary rights in the marine and coastal area.

If you have any questions in relation to this article, or the work that Kensington Swan Pakihi does with Post-Settlement Governance Entities and generally with relation to Māori Business, please give us a call.

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