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Indigenous environmental autonomy in Aotearoa New Zealand

Margaret Forster


British colonization of Aotearoa New Zealand diminished the influence of the tribal territory on Indigenous autonomy, identity and belonging. Yet land is still key to securing Indigenous futures. This paper explores the reassertion of Indigenous autonomy over the environment. A governmentality critique is used to explore efforts to embed indigeneity into environmental politics. As part of this critique three examples of Indigenous environmental autonomy are provided that show how Māori are asserting greater control over the tribal territory, particularly natural resources. I argue that resistance has been critical for the re-emergence of Māori autonomy over the environment, creating greater opportunities for assertions of local authority and the customary practice of kaitiakitanga (a Māori environmental ethic). Although there is still much to achieve in this space, Māori are now in a stronger position to resist ongoing colonization of the landscape and engage with the state around resource management of natural resources.

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Print ISSN 1177-1801 Online ISSN 1174-1740