Waikato River Authority good model for co-governance since it shows multiple agencies can work together - iwi leader

Waikato-Tainui is one of five iwi sitting on the Waikato River Authority, a co-governance arrangement that is focused on returning the health of the Waikato River.

Last week, it, alongside the Waikato Regional Council and Department of Conservation, launched a three-year fund hoping to develop new methods to control the introduced noxious koi carp in the Waikato waterways. It is one of the many projects commissioned by the authority for the benefit of all New Zealanders.

Rahui Papa, a Waikato iwi leader, believes the Waikato River Authority is a good model because multiple agencies can make decisions together.

He told The Hui that through co-governance, there has been a diversity of decision making allowing for the widest possible views to be shared.  He said that model has blossomed into a wider scope where all involved can share their opinions and the opportunity to co-design and co-decide on issues that are ultra-important to them.

New models and frameworks

Twenty years ago, iwi and the Crown debated the mana of the water or Te mana o te wai, and it spoke to the generational connection Māori have to water.

Now iwi leaders like Rahui Papa say it's time to talk about "te mana o te whānau" or a more connected healthy family. Papa said Māori are at the bottom of Aotearoa's social statistics and we need intervention yesterday.

Whether it's co-governance, co-design or co-decide, Papa said it needs to be done together.

The future of this means we have to sit around the same table in a co-design, co-decide way to get through those doldrums of the social negatives for Māori.

One of the architects of Crown/Māori co-governance arrangements, Traci Houpapa agrees adding Māori bring intergenerational views and experiences of survival, resilience and revitalisation to the table.

Joining their call is former Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson, who adds the previous system hasn't worked and if iwi want to talk about bulk funding it should be considered.

He cites iwi leaders like Ngāti Kahungunu's Ngahiwi Tumoana and Tūhoe's Tamati Kruger and says if the Crown is dealing with leaders of this calibre he is remarkably relaxed about co-governance.