Taonga species are native birds, plants and animals of special cultural significance and importance to iwi, in this case Ngāi Tahu.
The Crown's settlement with Ngāi Tahu (Ngāi Tahu Claims Settlement Act 1998) included recognition of the special traditional relationship Ngāi Tahu have with taonga species. Ngāi Tahu participates in the management of those species in many ways, including representation on species recovery groups.
Treaty of Waitangi obligations
Sea lions are very important to all Māori. In te reo Māori, the female sea lion is kake and the male is
whakahao - rāpoka is used more generically for all sea lions.
Section 4 of the Conservation Act 1987 requires that the Act (and the Acts in the First Schedule)
must be interpreted and administered as to give effect to the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi
(the Treaty). It provides one of the highest levels of recognition and requires the Crown to work in partnership with iwi.
The Treaty partnership within the Ngāi Tahu takiwā is the primary mechanism to enable Ngāi Tahu
whānui to exercise their tribal rights and interests as rangatira and kaitiaki over conservation lands and taonga species. In addition to Section 4 responsibilities, rāpoka are a taonga species under the Ngāi Tahu Claims Settlement Act 1998, in which the Crown acknowledges the cultural, spiritual, historical, and traditional association of Ngāi Tahu with rāpoka.
This commits the Crown to consult with and have particular regard to the views of Ngāi Tahu when the Minister of Conservation makes policy decisions concerning the protection, management, or conservation of rāpoka.
Ngāi Tahu relationships to taonga species are not passive, they reflect the long history of interaction, management and use. It is through working in partnership with the Department that Ngāi Tahu are able to maintain these relationships with the lands, waters, flora and fauna within the Ngāi Tahu takiwā.
By exercising rangatiratanga across these ancestral lands and waters, and as active tangata tiaki, the traditions that support the central values that define Ngāi Tahu can be maintained.
New Zealand sea lion Threat Management Plan and Ngāi Tahu
The principles of mātauranga Māori will be incorporated into the four workstreams to achieve the
vision of the New Zealand sea lion Threat Management Plan. Ngāi Tahu will be active in the management and decision making in relation to the enhancement of the species, to ensure the cultural knowledge and the Ngāi Tahu voice is heard.
Engagement with iwi will be further developed at the local level, with the associated rūnanga, ensuring the structure and function of the relationship matches the Treaty partnership needs.