Aotearoa New Zealand’s environmental management has long been considered short-sighted and focused on economic development over environmental, cultural or social imperatives. Tourism contributes to those pressures on our environments and communities. While Māori have always been involved in tourism, there is a concerted movement by many Māori towards engagement with tourism as a means of reconnecting with cultural traditions, protecting natural resources and providing employment for whānau. However, a definitive framework is lacking for establishing the limits of acceptable environmental change for different taonga from the effects of tourism.
Interviews with 22 kaitiaki (environmental guardians) from 14 tribes spread throughout the North Island of New Zealand revealed a common concern that the abundance and diversity of sea foods have declined along much of the coastline over the past 30–50 years. While Western conservationists have tended to emphasise ecological impacts, kaitiaki are concerned at both ecological and cultural consequences of the losses. Cultural consequences include severance of links between people and the food species, reduced connections between people in the community, erosion of ways that kinship is maintained, severed transmission of cultural knowledge, and impaired health and tribal development.
Rangatiratanga is a nodal discourse that subsumes a number of smaller discourses. This paper utilises critical discourse analysis to examine the emergent discourses of rangatiratanga within the context of Māori fisheries management. Three Tiriti o Waitangi translation texts and six Waitangi Tribunal texts relevant to fisheries were selected as the texts.