Local Government Magazine

Iwi and Hapu Management Plans

Iwi and Hapu Management Plans

Wendy Saunders (left) and Lucy Kaiser from GNS Science have been investigating the role of Iwi and Hapu Management Plans in managing natural hazards in the Bay of Plenty. Presented at the recent NZPI Conference in Napier, their findings carry much wider implications.

Iwi and Hapu Management Plans (IHMPs) are prepared by an iwi, iwi authority, runanga or hapu as an expression of rangatiratangaand kaitiakitanga of local natural resources. They are designed to be strategic documents which outline priorities for iwi and hapu as well as providing a valuable cultural context and preferred process of engagement for local authorities.
Although IHMPs are legislative documents under the Resource Management Act 1991 (e.g. s61, 66, 74), their potential influence and role is uncertain.
A report commissioned in 2017 Effective use of recognition of iwi and hapu management plans (Conroy & Donald Consultants), found that: “A lot of time, energy and resourcing goes into developing IMPs. They are a source of pride for iwi and hapu and, as such, should be afforded the mana and legislative weight that comes with these documents. There are expectations that IMPs will be valued and recognised to influence better outcomes for, and foster better relationships between, council and iwi/hapu.”
There is an important opportunity for IHMPs to be recognised and valued within the realm of natural hazard management by including information on natural hazards, management options, action points for reducing risks and mitigation measures.
As of July 1, 2018, 56 local authorities had one or more iwi/hapu management plans lodged with them. A total of 190 iwi/hapu management plans had been lodged with local authorities throughout the country.
Local authorities make a budgetary commitment to assist iwi/hapu participation in policy statement, plan-making and resource consent processes. This could include funding (or co-funding) a planner to work with iwi/hapu or providing training.
Funded by the National Science Challenge ‘Resilience to Nature’s Challenges’ Matauranga Maori programme, we have been investigating the role of IHMPs in natural hazard management using the Bay of Plenty as a case study.
We selected the Bay of Plenty region due to the large number of IHMPs that have been lodged with local authorities, and the breadth of different hazard types that the region experiences. The cultural landscape of the Bay of Plenty is rich and dynamic. There are 34 iwi, more than 142 hapu and 200 marae in the region. And 28 percent of the total population identifies as Maori.

IHMPs and Natural Hazards

Analysis of the 21 plans that included natural hazard information revealed a number of findings. IHMPs are often written with councils as an audience in mind. Some plan writers engage with consultants from a planning background. Where IHMPs were written by planners for planners, council staff found them easier to use, as they could be aligned with the planning framework.
However, there was still some uncertainty about the best way to use the plans, how to interpret them and when to use them. The more recent IHMPs were more useful for informing policy and consent decisions, as they had specific policies which could be aligned with council policies.

Key Findings

A collective understanding and use of IHMPs from iwi, councils and researchers has significant potential to contribute to hazard management. Within IHMPs there are some clear directives to councils and researchers on what is needed in a natural hazard context.
One participant from a hapu expressed that they were not well informed about challenges posed in the event of a natural disaster and that they were unclear as to the role they play amongst their regional local government nexus in times of natural disasters.
Another participant recognised that their community is actively seeking information on hazards and hazard management, would like to work with hazard specialists and councils on developing a response plan, and that they “urgently need an effective warning system”.
The Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management Ministerial Review (published in January 2018), specifically discussed the importance of having closer relationships with iwi. There is potential for IHMPs to be used as a means of forming closer relationships between civil defence and iwi and hapu with all parties working together to build comprehensive hazard management plans for more resilient communities.
The importance to iwi and hapu of iwi management plans was made abundantly clear. Multiple participants refer to these plans as “their bible”. This was often regardless of whether the participant was involved specifically in the writing of the plan.
As one participant stated: “The world is a better place now that there are IMPs. They are really helpful: especially the more recent ones. There’s a large growing Iwi and Hapu Management Plansbody of these. They really articulate the views of the iwi. Especially going into meetings, you always have someone saying, ‘have you read the iwi management plan?’ ‘Yes, we have.’ Oh ok, that just saved half an hour of the meeting and we’re addressing each of the relevant areas in the document.”
Another important finding was the mixed awareness that councils had of iwi management plans. Some were extremely familiar with the plans and were passionate about ensuring staff were aware of, and actively using, the plans in decision-making.
Other councils were less familiar with the plans and, although they recognised the potential value of iwi management plans, they often did not refer to them in decision-making. Nor were staff generally aware of the purpose and use of IHMPs.


A set of recommendations has been produced for use in both local and national hazard management contexts. The following recommendations are generalised. They do not take into account the context of the relationship a council may have with iwi and hapu. Nor do they reflect resources available to act on these recommendations.
For example, Opotiki District Council was interviewed as part of this research and did not consider IHMPs to be particularly important to its operations. This was due to its already well-established relationships with iwi and hapu.
If council officers had questions they would “pop across the road” to consult kanohi ki te kanohi (face to face). This also saved the iwi and council spending an already limited resource on producing an IHMP.
Notwithstanding, the following recommendations are made:

  • IHMPs are included in the orientation of new staff in councils;
  • Councils should include relevant IHMPs on their website. Tauranga City does this and also includes a link to iwi and hapu contact details;
  • Councils could provide a ‘hot desk’ for an iwi representative to provide support to council in drafting an IHMP. That representative could also support council in implementing the IHMP: both within planning and policy, and emergency management;
  • Emergency management staff should refer to IHMPs to help identify priorities, gaps and challenges;
  • Encouragement and support should be given to iwi to include within their plans the ‘4Rs’ of emergency management planning: readiness, response, recovery and reduction;
  • Councils’ long-term planning priorities should be aligned with iwi priorities and challenges identified in IHMPs;
  • Natural hazard information is shared with iwi to help inform their plans;
  • Council-led natural hazard planning and/or strategy is informed by iwi priorities and gaps, and is shared with iwi;
  • Regional councils should fund the development of IHMPs. This empowers iwi to produce high-quality plans;
  • Consent applicants are advised to look at relevant IHMPs;
  • Emergency management offices are encouraged to employ Maori staff to work with communities and understand their needs – not just as a response partner but in all emergency management planning;
  • Councils undertake a ‘dye’ test to see how an IHMP influences and/or informs a decision from the start of a process such as policy development or a consent application;
  • There are increased funding opportunities for iwi/hapu involvement in RMA processes. This is particularly relevant at territorial authorities.

On top of this, the following national recommendations are in response to the research findings from the Bay of Plenty but are considered to require a national response:

  • Include a session on IHMPs in the ‘Making Good Decisions’ NZPI programme for Commissioners. This is a dedicated session that extends the learnings from Module 4 and Appendix 4 (Maori Values supplement);
  • The Ministry for the Environment or Quality Planning provide guidance on how to apply IHMPs;
  • IHMPs are included in the National Civil Defence Emergency Management Plan and associated strategic documents;
  • IHMPs are provided for in university planning programmes in the form of an overview in undergraduate programmes and specific lectures and assignments in Masters programmes; and
  • The Ministry for the Environment, LGNZ, the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management, and other agencies actively encourage and support councils to become aware of, implement and value IHMPs, by including them in guidance, templates and other materials and processes.

  • Wendy Saunders is a senior natural hazards planner and Lucy Kaiser a Maori social scientist at GNS Science.
    w.saunders@gns.cri.nz and l.kaiser@gns.cri.nz

    This article was first published in the June 2019 issue of NZ Local Government Magazine.

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