Māori and Treaty of Waitangi issues are now an integral part of New Zealand’s mainstream law, influencing a wide range of legal and policy matters, from taxation to coastal management. Treaty settlements and the increased involvement of Māori in business and resource developments may present challenges but also many opportunities. Major changes to Māori land law are also in the process of being introduced, presenting another set of challenges and opportunities.
Our team of experts have unparalleled experience and expertise in the law relating to Māori and the Treaty of Waitangi, and the policy and legal framework affecting Māori culture and heritage. We have a strong knowledge of tikanga and Māori customary law, and many of us are fluent in te reo. We also draw on the expertise of other specialist teams at Kensington Swan to provide advice on a wide range of commercial and business matters.
We are involved as legal and strategic advisers to a wide range of Māori organisations on the establishment of corporate and trust vehicles and group structures for their social, cultural and commercial activities. This includes bodies to hold settlement and commercial assets, operate cultural and social housing projects, establish business incubators, manage development projects, joint ventures and partnerships, as well as acquiring or disposing of business assets, arranging financing or negotiating venture capital.
We are actively involved in a wide range of land and resource based projects for Māori land owners or resource holders and for private sector partners with Māori. We are currently working on projects for forestry and farm development, manuka and bush honey development, water bottling projects, freshwater crayfish farming, a range of eco-tourism projects and the use of geothermal waters and natural medicinal projects.
We are presently advising numerous iwi and other parties on the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) legislation which has changed the legal regime for our foreshore and seabed. We are also involved in a number of publicly funded research projects relating to coastal management as well as being part of the legal research team for the Sustainable Seas National Science Challenge. Part of work also involves advice on advising private sector and Māori interests environment policy and resource management contexts and resource management processes.
We are presently working on a number of challenging projects for iwi and independent research bodies which require legal and contractual solutions for the protection and management of cultural heritage, traditional knowledge, and intellectual property in the Māori context. This includes trademarks, copyright, heritage sites and historic places, antiquities, and sui generis (stand alone) special legislative recognition of Māori taonga.
We have considerable expertise and experience in New Zealand’s regulatory framework relating to conservation and biodiversity; its implementation and application, government institutions and current policy and practice. This includes Conservation and Reserves regimes, the National Parks Act 1980, the Wildlife Act 1953, the Predator Free 2050 policy, the Draft Threatened Species Strategy, and other conservation legislation. We are currently part of the legal team for the Biodiversity National Science Challenge and working on a new legal framework for a district wide biodiversity multi stakeholder spatial plan to promote conservation, biodiversity and eco-tourism.
We’ve worked as part of the negotiation team on settlements worth over $650 million, and we offer a full range of legal and strategic expertise and advice to groups at all stages of negotiation of their Treaty of Waitangi claims settlement. We also support groups with the development of their post-settlement governance entity and drafting settlement legislation.
There are more than 100 statutes currently in force that refer to Māori concepts or the Treaty of Waitangi, or provide for the management of Māori land or settlement assets, as well as a complex range of policy and Treaty settlement obligations. We provide expert advice on the implications of Māori and Treaty issues in legislation for Government and for other sectors.
Strong relationships are the basis of any successful transaction and this is especially true in matters involving Māori. We advise organisations in their dealings with Māori, and we advise iwi and Māori organisations in their relations with the private sector and government.