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Background information

Consultation with Māori

How to go about engagement and consultation

Details of the engagement and consultation process from the perspective of a biological control researcher are give in Table 2. Key points to remember are:

Table 2. The process of Māori engagement and consultation in relation to biological control.
Project milestoneMaori engagement and consultation suggestedPossible issues for Māori
Weed or pest problem identified, biocontrol identified as a possible solution.

Appoint a team member to take responsibility for Māori engagement issues throughout the project.

Read the EPA's documents on Māori engagement.

Take up opportunities to talk to Māori about the project wherever possible. Are there any opportunities for partnerships?

- Is the weed/pest valued by Māori?
- Does it provide food for native species?
- Is the weed or pest affecting native ecosystems, or other ecosystems valued by Maori?
Potential biocontrol agents identified and background information gathered.

Discuss with your organisation's Māori liaison person and the EPA .

- Is the proposed introduction of significance to Maori?
- What level of consultation might be needed?
- Who should introduce you to the right people? (this is very important!)

Ensure research team is aware of responsibilities to Māori. Consider training in Māori protocol, language and Treaty issues. Consider finding a consultant to facilitate engagement with Māori.

Early in the process discuss the project with the appropriate local Māori groups (generally those with mana whenua over the land around the research facility). Offer to talk to them about the project or biocontrol in general. Face-to-face meeting is important, so follow through with this if it is requested.

Record notes from meetings and phone conversations, and if possible get joint sign off of accuracy. Include these with the application when sending to the EPA.

If the agents were introduced could they:
- invade native habitats?
- affect native species?
- affect valued exotic species (e.g. Broom is a weed, but it provides food for keruru)?
- interbreed with native species (affect whakapapa)?
- reduce the need for pesticide sprays?
- help restore native ecosystems?

If a meeting is not requested, it could be due to lack of resources to host or attend a meeting, rather than lack of interest.

Determine non-target species for host range testing Talk to your Māori contacts regarding the contents of the list. EPA staff may be able to provide advice and suggest information sources for non-target species of interest to Māori. Prepare an article on the project in Māori-specific media, such as the EPA's Te Putara newsletter. Check if there are any relevant species that are:
- Taonga, such as those listed in the Ngai Tahu Settlement Act
- Rare or endangered
- Have medicinal value to Māori, or are a traditional source of food
- Valued exotic species
Prepare the EPA application to import into containment (if appropriate) Formally consult with hapu or iwi with mana whenua over the containment facility, according to EPA guidelines. Relationships developed earlier are important here. Ensure concerns and questions are followed up appropriately, and included in the application, as well as a description of the consultation process. - What are the risks of escape from containment?
- What plans are in place if this occurs?
- What could the impact be on native flora and fauna?

Ongoing communication is important, as is talking to the right people. Be open minded about opportunities to work together to mitigate cultural concern.

Submit EPA application to import into containment (if appropriate) Notify all groups consulted with that the application has been submitted, and what the process is for public submissions.
Approval given to import into containment (if appropriate) Maintain ongoing communication with your network of contacts by telling them about the outcome of the application process.
First shipment of organisms Ensure your contacts are informed when the first shipment is expected. Be open to holding a celebration or blessing ceremony if this is requested. Allow Maori to determine appropriate protocol for this.
Host range testing Keep lines of communication with your network of contacts open. Mutually agree on what amount of communication is appropriate during the research process.
Prepare EPA application to release

Formally consult with local Maori according to EPA guidelines. This should start at least 6 months before proposed submission. Start by discussing issues in person with your established local contacts. Ask them who it would be appropriate to contact among other hapu or iwi in the area. Through these contacts, contacts at a national level may be found. Discuss with the EPA the best way to approach consultation on a national level.

During the consultation process, always be open to meeting face to face to discuss the issues. It may be appropriate to present the results of your research at a hui. Discuss the consultation process with the EPA.

Ensure all concerns and questions are followed up appropriately, and included in the application. Ongoing communication is the key.

Who you consult with and how is important, and if done badly can damage relationships with Māori. Relationship building and honest and open engagement is important. Work through the appropriate networks, with the backing and guidance of local tangata whenua. Your organisation's Māori liaison person is invaluable for guiding the process of introducing you to the appropriate people, and guiding the engagement and consultation process.
Submit EPA application to release Notify all groups consulted with that the application has been submitted, and what the process is for public submissions.
Application hearing Where possible provide support, advice and information for Māori groups wishing to prepare submissions. The Maori Policy and Operations Group at the EPA can also provide support and advice to these groups.
Approval given to release Communicate the outcome of the hearing with your local Māori contacts. They may be interested to discuss what happens next. After this point there is no formal requirement to consult with Māori, but the process of engagement and relationship building is ongoing. This is an opportunity for partnerships to form, and new possibilities for research may arise to the benefit of both Māori and scientists.
First release of agent Communicate the intention to release the agent with your local contacts. Be open to their involvement in the first release - a blessing ceremony may be appropriate. Look into who has mana whenua over the land where the release will occur, and allow for their involvement in the process. This communication may go through the company that manages the land in some cases. The introduction of a new organism is a significant event, and Māori, as kaitiaki (guardians) of the land may wish to be involved in the process and mark the event.
Field trials Where appropriate, consult with Māori landowners of proposed field sites prior to release. Allow their decisions regarding the release to inform the choice of site (especially if management of the land is contracted out). If there is funding and opportunity, consider involving Māori landowners and communities in field trials. - What are the expectations for the agent at the trial stage?
- What are the risks?
- What happens if it goes wrong?
- How long until we know if it has worked or not?
Distribution by land managers Consider engaging with Māori communities to develop partnerships for the distribution of the agent. The role of Māori as kaitiaki (guardians) of their land may be threatened if they do not have control over or input into the release of a biocontrol agent on or near their land.
Ongoing monitoring of agents success Where possible maintain communication with local Māori contacts about the successes and failures of the project. This may be alongside the process of consultation for another biocontrol agent. Consider writing articles for national Māori-specific media such as the EPA's Te Putara newsletter. Knowledge of the results of past biocontrol releases is as valuable to Maori as it is to biocontrol scientists for judging the worth of future applications.