Ngāi Tahu marks 25 years since Crown Settlement

29th September 2023

Ngāi Tahu is celebrating the anniversary of its Crown Settlement by holding a tribal climate change symposium with whānau today.

In 1998, Ngāi Tahu received an apology from the Crown, cultural and tribal redress, and $170 million compensation. It was the culmination of a quest for justice over seven generations.

In the 25 years since, the iwi has built a solid asset base and invested more than $930 million in tribal development including education grants environmental initiatives, language revitalisation, marae projects, and many more schemes that advance the wellbeing of the iwi.

To mark the milestone, Ngāi Tahu is calling on members from across the tribe for a climate change symposium to signal the importance of adapting to and mitigating the impacts of global warming.

Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu Kaiwhakahaere Lisa Tumahai says the iwi is celebrating the achievements of the past 25 years but keeping an eye to the future.

“We have just topped 80,000 registered iwi members. We have built a thriving business, which is investing in our people and generating stronger education, health, and cultural outcomes for our whānau. We are allowed to be a bit proud. At the same time, we are in the middle of the challenge of our lifetime – climate change,” Lisa Tumahai says.“We are a coastal people. Many Ngāi Tahu marae, urupā and wāhi tīpuna are in low-lying coastal areas, exposed to rising sea levels and flooding. In fact, 16 of our 18 marae are at risk.“As mana whenua and kaitiaki of our lands we have responsibility for the wellbeing of our whenua and those it sustains. The impact of climate change on te taiao is significant and as an iwi, we intend to rise to the challenge.”The symposium involves expert speakers and panel discussions. There will be an update on sustainability initiatives and progress towards targets set out in Te Kounga Paparangi, the Ngāi Tahu climate action plan.Lisa Tumahai says progress has been good, particularly in waste management, adaptation measures, and supplier engagement.She points to Ngāi Tahu Farming’s regenerative agriculture trial – Te Whenua Hou Te Whenua Whitiora – in partnership with Ngāi Tūāhuriri and the government, which is the country’s largest whole-farm regenerative trial.

Over seven years, the $11.5 million study will seek to validate the science of regenerative farming by comparing financial, social, and environmental differences between adjacent regenerative and conventional farms.

The electrification of Ngāi Tahu Tourism’s Shotover Jet fleet is another climate mitigation story.

“The prototype phase is complete,” says Lisa Tumahai. “We are now working on finalising design and infrastructure options. Each electric jet boat conversion is estimated to save 120 tonnes of carbon emissions a year. That is what 25 cars emit annually.”

“Half of our marae now have solar power and we are identifying opportunities for water, waste and energy efficiencies.”

Still, reducing emissions is difficult.

“We haven’t achieved our desired progress in reducing carbon emissions, which rose last year as the impacts of Covid receded. Increased tourism, corporate travel as borders opened, growing international demand for our seafood, and farming emissions contributed to this,” says Lisa Tumahai.

“The increase was just 8 percent on the previous financial year, but we are focused on reducing our carbon emissions year on year. To assist that we are refining how we measure emissions. Reporting is now quarterly on key emissions sources, aligned with the financial year (previously calendar year) and uses more actual data, rather than estimates.

“By adopting a more comprehensive approach to carbon emissions measurement, we aim to not only mitigate our environmental impact but also inspire positive change. Tackling climate change is our generation’s most significant challenge, and our ambition to become carbon neutral remains.”


More information

For background on the history leading to the Ngāi Tahu Claims Settlement Act 1998, please visit Ngāi Tahu Settlement (