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The Key Actors of Waikato River Co-Governance: Situational analysis at work

Marama Muru-Lanning


The Waikato River is an important New Zealand waterway with a long history of people making claims to it, including Treaty of Waitangi claims by Māori for guardianship and ownership rights. The claims process has most recently culminated in Waikato-Tainui and the Crown signing a 2009 Deed of Settlement for the river. The 2009 deed establishes a new co-governance structure for the river, with equal Māori and Crown representation. However, what has also transpired from the agreement is the emergence of a new guard of Māori decision-makers who have challenged and displaced the traditional Kīngitanga (King Movement) leaders as the main power-brokers of the Waikato River. Before Waikato-Tainui’s most recent river negotiators there were a number of other Waikato ancestors who contributed to strengthening the relationship between Waikato Māori and the Waikato River. Prominent Kīngitanga leaders such as Princess Te Puea Herangi, Sir Robert Mahuta, Te Arikinui (paramount chief) Te Atairangikaahu and successive Māori kings are recognized as mediating the relationship between Waikato Māori and the Waikato River.

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Print ISSN 1177-1801 Online ISSN 1174-1740