Important steps taken in Ngāi Tahu, Environment Canterbury partnership

Environment Canterbury and Ngāi Tahu today announced significant milestones in the partnership between them.

Ngā Papatipu Rūnanga and Environment Canterbury recently signed a relationship agreement for the programme known as Tuia to mark a new era of collaboration between the organisations.

Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu Kaiwhakahaere Tā Mark Solomon said the signing symbolises how far the organisations have come in developing their partnership over the last two years.

“The Rūnanga representatives and Environment Canterbury Commissioners intend the agreement to be based on mutual respect, the utmost standards of good faith, and confidence that working jointly will have the greatest benefit for current and future generations to have a thriving relationship with a vibrant environment,” Tā Mark said.

Environment Canterbury Chair of Commissioners Dame Margaret Bazley says the Tuia relationship will bring people together so they can get things done for the benefit of the whole region. “There is now greater understanding within Environment Canterbury of Ngāi Tahu values and their relevance to our work,” Dame Margaret said. “We are already seeing the results that can be achieved on the ground. For example, there are 10 biodiversity projects throughout the region of importance to rūnanga that are making good progress.”

Late last year, the Te Waihora co-governance agreement was signed by the Environment Canterbury Commissioners and the Te Waihora Management Board. “It is all about working together to achieve rehabilitation and restoration of the lake, which is a regional treasure,” Dame Margaret said. The agreement establishes a framework for the active management of Te Waihora / Lake Ellesmere and its catchment. An interim agreement was signed in mid-2011 together with Whakaora Te Waihora, the long-term relationship agreement and shared commitment between Environment Canterbury, Ngāi Tahu and the Te Waihora Management Board.

Tā Mark says these moves represent the new approach to management of natural resources in Canterbury. “They acknowledge and bring together the tikanga responsibilities of Ngāi Tahu and Environment Canterbury’s statutory responsibilities, which is very important for our shared future,” he said.

Dame Margaret said the signings are significant for both Canterbury and New Zealand. “This is a way in which iwi and regional government can work together towards common goals. It is particularly important to the success of the collaborative Canterbury Water Management Strategy.”

David Perenara-O’Connell has been appointed Programme Manager Ngāi Tahu Relationship with Environment Canterbury after two decades with Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, most recently as General Manager Tribal Interests, which included management responsibility for Toitū Te Whenua, the environmental unit of Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, and anchoring the Tuia programme.

Tā Mark says David’s appointment to Environment Canterbury is exciting and although he will be missed, Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu is looking forward to his achievements for the partnership. “David has been a committed, loyal and excellent tribal worker for two decades,” Tā Mark said. “Recently in his senior roles his tenacity and dedication to upholding the values of Ngāi Tahu have been instrumental for us in a wide range of issues. A person of his calibre will be sadly missed. However, we are excited about the new role he is taking up and we look forward to his work for both Environment Canterbury and Ngāi Tahu.”

Jill Atkinson, Environment Canterbury Director Strategy and Programmes, says David’s appointment shows the importance the organisation places on its partnership with Ngāi Tahu.


Tuia is the partnership between Environment Canterbury and Ngāi Tahu. Te Rōpū Tuia, the Tuia governance group, is made up of the chairs of 10 Ngāi Tahu Papatipu Rūnanga and the Environment Canterbury Commissioners. The rūnanga represented include Ngāi Tūāhuriri (Tuahiwi), Te Taumutu (Taumutu), Ngāti Wheke (Rāpaki), Wairewa (Little River), Koukourārata (Port Levy), Ōnuku (Akaroa), Arowhenua (Temuka), Waihao (Waimate), Kaikōura and Moeraki. A joint work programme is supported and advanced by Papatipu Rūnanga representatives, Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu and Environment Canterbury staff.

The Te Waihora Management Board, an advisory body to Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, comprises representatives of the six mid-Canterbury Papatipu Rūnanga with interests in Te Waihora. The Board’s composition recognises whakapapa, kaitiaki roles and the flax-roots local knowledge of the Te Waihora environment by Board members and their Papatipu Rūnanga. The Board is made up of eight members, three appointed by Te Taumutu Rūnanga and one member each from Te Ngāi Tūāhuriri, Wairewa, Koukourārata, Ōnuku Rūnanga and Te Hapū o Ngāti Wheke. The Te Waihora Co-governance Group comprises the Te Waihora Management Board and Environment Canterbury Commissioners.