Ngāi Tahu panel to work on stewardship land reclassification

Nov 19, 2021

A Ngāi Tahu mana whenua panel will work with the Department of Conservation (DOC), two national panels, and Conservation Minister Kiritapu Allan, during a review of stewardship land within the Ngāi Tahu takiwā (tribal area).

DOC is reclassifying stewardship land throughout Aotearoa to better protect conservation areas home to threatened species and high priority ecosystems. As a large proportion of the Ngāi Tahu takiwā is made up of stewardship and public conservation land, the reclassification process is of the upmost significance to Ngāi Tahu.

The announcement of the mana whenua panel comes after Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu filed urgent legal proceedings in May to pause the reclassification process, which the Crown had started without the involvement of Ngāi Tahu as its Treaty partner. After reaching an agreement with DOC, Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu withdrew legal proceedings earlier this month.

Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu Kaiwhakahaere Lisa Tumahai says the mana whenua panel will provide information on stewardship land within the Ngāi Tahu takiwā to enhance the Minister of Conservation’s decision making.

“I’m pleased we have reached an agreement which properly recognises Ngāi Tahu as tāngata whenua and holding rangatiratanga over our statutorily recognised takiwā. It’s important we’re involved in this process to help the Crown understand the significance of the land it is making decisions about.”

The mana whenua panel will share traditional mātauranga (Māori knowledge) with two national panels, DOC, and the Minister. Ngāi Tahu will also support the Minister’s decision making by providing information about mahinga kai places, as well as the future aspirations of the iwi.

Members of the mana whenua panel include Te Rūnanga o Makaawhio Chair Paul Madgwick, Te Rūnanga o Kaikōura Cultural Pou Chair Maurice Manawatu, Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Waewae Chair Francois Tumahai, and Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu representative Gail Thompson.

“As a kaitiaki of their rohe, each panel member will bring their own mātauranga Māori, and will connect this kaupapa back to their whenua.”

As part of their mahi, the mana whenua panel will work with the national panels and DOC to develop and implement a public consultation process.

Lisa Tumahai says while it’s important Ngāi Tahu environmental values are protected and enhanced, the reclassification process will also determine whether some land can be made available for other purposes.

“We want to protect native species, significant ecosystems, and traditional places for future generations. It’s also important that as part of this process, mana whenua and the public have an opportunity to provide their views on whether economic activity should be undertaken in some places, if it is appropriate to do so.”

The panels will take about eight months to undertake their work and provide recommendations, with the Minister of Conservation likely to make a final decision on the future of the land next year.


  • While around 30% of conservation areas are held in stewardship – over 2.5 million hectares or 9% of New Zealand’s total land area, the mana whenua panel will only work on the reclassification process of stewardship land within the Ngāi Tahu takiwā.
  • The first areas of stewardship land to be reclassified will be Western South Island and Northern South Island. Maps are available on the DOC website.
  • As part of the reclassification process, the mana whenua panel will support two independent national panels who will make draft recommendations to the Minister.