The good fight : power and the indigenous struggle for the Manawatū river : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Resource and Environmental Planning at Massey University, Manawatū, New Zealand

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Massey University
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Power is the central theme of this research. This thesis examines how power structures iwi contributions to freshwater planning and decision-making. Power has received little attention in literature on Māori and natural resource planning, even though it reproduces and potentially transforms existing inequalities among Māori, other actors and planning institutions. In failing to analyse power, scholars have left a significant gap in the literature. In New Zealand, the deleterious effects of agricultural expansion on water have significant implications for iwi, as water is linked to tribal identity and mana. Both past and current generations have struggled to protect water. Contemporary strategies to restore degraded water bodies and reclaim mana, as control and authority, over water include co-management arrangements. Simultaneously, Government has taken an enthusiastic, uncritical stance to promoting collaboration as an approach to freshwater planning, including iwi as one among multiple actors. In this pro-collaboration climate, however, power has been ignored. So, this research asks: How does power structure iwi contributions to freshwater planning and decision-making? To answer this question, a case study was undertaken of the Manawatū River, a highly degraded water body in the lower North Island of New Zealand. Two main methods were used to collect data: semi-structured interviews with 13 key informants and an analysis of 214 documents, including 180 newspaper articles. To interpret the data, the theoretical framework used Pierre Bourdieu’s concepts of field, capital and habitus. The research found that power structures all contributions to freshwater decisionmaking into a hierarchy, with iwi contributions typically marginalised. The hierarchy is a colonial legacy which continues to be reproduced in multiple ways. So, while collaboration, as advocated by the Crown, has some benefits for iwi, it will not help re-structure this hierarchy to enable iwi to regain control over water. Other strategies, such as Treaty of Waitangi settlements, are liable to be more effective. This finding implies that iwi must assess whether co-management or collaboration strategies will enable them to reshape power imbalance. Gaining power is critical to transform inequality, reclaim authority and restore the mauri of water for future generations.
Manawatu river, River management, Decision-making, Regional planning, Maori and natural resource planning, Co-management, Community power, Maori water rights