To recognise the value that engagement with mana whenua adds through the sharing of their knowledge and wisdom, Council works with Kāi Tahu, as mana whenua and representatives of the Treaty partner in the region.

This is to develop a trusted and enduring relationship, and to enable the development of mana whenua capacity to contribute to decision making.

Engagement with Māori is a requirement of legislation and a key part of engagement for the Council. As an overall principle, greater involvement of Māori in local government activity, including Māori whose whakapapa to land and place is elsewhere in New Zealand, is recognised and supported.

However, such involvement does not substitute for the role of Kāi Tahu as mana whenua and Treaty partners. We aspire to go beyond statutory responsibilities to ensure meaningful engagement with mana whenua based on the principles of partnership of the Treaty of Waitangi / Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

Mana whenua are Māori who are of this place, whose whakapapa, traditions, and histories are provenanced to the Otago Region.

Get more information on our partnership commitments in He Mahi Rau Rika

Engagement with mana whenua

Our commitment is to partner with mana whenua and make Mātauraka Kāi Tahu an integral part of our decision-making. This recognises the status of mana whenua as the Treaty partner in the Otago region and the need to continue the journey that Council has begun to more effectively involve Māori in decision making.

This includes acknowledging historic grievances and respecting Kāi Tahu ki Otago and Ngai Tahu Ki Murihiku customs and beliefs when engaging with mana whenua. The process of engagement is based on continuing to build trusted and enduring relationships which requires an ongoing commitment. Council has committed to a range of channels and relationships to enable mana whenua participation, support the development of capability, and build relationships.

This includes the following activities and commitments:

Council relationship arrangements with mana whenua

Mana to Mana agreement and relationship

This enables councillors and Rūnanga Chairs / Upoko to regularly meet to identify and agree key areas for engagement and partnership.


Iwi Representatives

Two mana whenua representatives with full voting rights have been appointed on the Strategy and Planning Committee.

Environmental Science and Policy Committee

Two iwi representatives from Kāi Tahu ki Otago are members Committee, with one of them serving as the Co-Chair.

Regional Leadership Committee

One iwi representative from Kāi Tahu ki Otago are members on this Committee.


2003 Memorandum of Understanding and Protocol between Otago Regional Council, Te Rūnaka Kāi Tahu and Kāi Tahu ki Otago for Effective Consultation and Liaison

This agreement helps to clarify how Council will engage with Kāi Tahu ki Otago on a range of issues.

There are four Kāi Tahu ki Otago Rūnanga being:

  • Te Rūnanga o Mōeraki
  • Kati Huirapa Rūnaka ki Puketeraki
  • Te Rūnanga o Ōtākou
  • Hokonui Rūnanga

Land and Water Regional Plan Governance Structure 

Co-Governance: Land and Water Regional Plan Governance Group, with two iwi representatives and two ORC Councillors to guide the development of the Land and Water Regional Plan.

Charter of understanding with Te Ao Mārama and Southland Rūnaka; and participation in Southland Te Rōpū Taiao hui

There are four Ngāi Tahu ki Murihiku Rūnaka with interests in the Otago region:  

  • Awarua Rūnanga
  • Waihopai Rūnaka
  • Ōraka-Aparima Rūnaka  
  • Hokonui 

The Charter of Understanding He Huarahi mō Ngā Uri Whakatupu is the relationship document with Council and Ngāi Tahu ki Murihiku Rūnaka with a common goal to sustainably manage the region’s environment for the social, cultural economic and environmental wellbeing of the community for now and into the future.  

Quarterly meetings of Te Rōpū Taiao are held to manage and support our common goal. Council engage with Te Ao Mārama Inc. and Papatipu Rūnaka on a range of issues.


Internal cultural awareness and training / induction 

Developing and implementing a programme of cultural competency enhancement to offer organisational training in Te Reo Māori, Te Tiriti o Waitangi training, mātauraka, and tikaka from a Kāi Tahu perspective.


Engagement with mana whenua on a range of key issues 

In collaboration with Papatipu Rūnaka, we actively engage with mana whenua on various issues such as land, water, and air quality, biodiversity, climate change, and emergency management.

Additionally, we partner with our Regional Environmental Entity, which comprises Aukaha (1997) Ltd, representing Kāi Tahu ki Otago, and Te Ao Mārama Inc (TAMI), representing Ngāi Tahu ki Murihiku. Together, they serve as the primary point of contact and facilitate engagement in resource management processes.


Regional Engagement: Te Rōpū Taiao Otago Charter and Hui 

A regional coordinating group involving Otago Mayors and the ORC Chair and Kāi Tahu ki Otago Rūnaka Chairs to identify and agree key areas for engagement and partnership across Otago.