Report recommends changes to DOC Treaty implementation


A report advocating changes to help DOC meet its Treaty of Waitangi obligations has been released ahead of public consultation on proposed policy changes.

The Options Development Group (ODG) report, the views of an independent panel appointed in 2020, addresses matters highlighted by the Ngāi Tai ki Tāmaki Supreme Court case.

That case and others have challenged aspects of the Department of Conservation’s (DOC) decision making – particularly regarding its obligations to give effect to the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi.

The ODG’s primary task was to advise on how two key pieces of DOC guidance, the Conservation General Policy and the General Policy for National Parks, could be revised to better reflect Treaty of Waitangi responsibilities.

The general policies set the national direction for how DOC and others with conservation roles fulfill their responsibilities under conservation legislation.

In particular, the general policies are the foundation for statutory management planning for public conservation lands and waters, and decision-making about any activities that engage with our natural and historic heritage.

The ODG was also asked to identify limitations within DOC’s wider policy settings and legislation and to recommend possible solutions.

Read the ODG report.

The report makes recommendations in seven categories:

  • Fundamental Reform: Transform conservation through a fundamental reform of the conservation system
  • Purpose of Conservation: Reframe the purpose of conservation to ensure it is fit-for-purpose for Aotearoa New Zealand
  • Kawa, Tikanga, and Mātauranga: Centre kawa, tikanga, and mātauranga within the conservation system
  • Lands, Waters, Resources, Indigenous Species, and other Taonga: Recast the legal status of conservation lands, waters, resources, indigenous species and other taonga
  • Te Tiriti Partnership: Reform conservation governance and management to reflect te Tiriti partnership at all levels
  • Tino Rangatiratanga: Enable devolution of powers and functions including decision-making to meaningfully recognise the role and exercise of rangatiratanga
  • Resourcing: Build capability and capacity within DOC and tangata whenua to give effect to Te Tiriti.