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DOC and Tūhoe’s IPANZ award a win for all New Zealand

DOC and Tūhoe’s IPANZ award a win for all New Zealand

Department of Conservation Deputy Director General, Strategy and People, Mervyn English has today paid tribute to Tūhoe in bringing Te Urewera, a legal personhood truely to life.

Tūhoe and DOC last night won the Prime Minister’s Award at the Deloittte IPANZ Public Sector Excellence Awards as well as the Crown-Māori Excellence Award. These awards recognise the innovation and collaboration in implementing ground-breaking new Treaty settlement legislation.

“Our relationship with Tūhoe is based on honest plain-talking. While it has been challenging, together we have overturned a difficult past and two years down the track enjoy a relationship where we are easy with each other in sharing our thoughts, our worries and our ideas for the future,” says Mervyn English.

“To achieve this feeling of trust and confidence we looked critically how we worked together. Recognising our differences and that we had much to learn from each other, we are now more efficient in sharing ideas, knowledge, perspectives and skills based on Tūhoe’s principle-based plan for Te Urewera, Te Kawa.

“There are now more Tūhoe employed in Te Urewera and more Tūhoe people feeling they have a greater opportunity to influence the way Te Urewera is protected and managed. More people than ever before are involved in its care and the economics now stretch further than before.

“DOC seconding staff members into Te Uru Taumatua (TUT) - The governing body of Tūhoe to be part of one team was a practical and symbolic move. It enabled TUT to take the reins with the operational management of Te Urewera, and exposed DOC staff to a different way of thinking and working.

Staff involved in the transition refer to the challenge and excitement associated with identifying new ways of working:

“The way of working here is refreshing and interesting. We are looking at more than just animals and plants… it is the health of the whole of Te Urewera…everything from the sky to the ground” (Seconded staff member).

“The move towards ‘one team’ was really significant. Letting Tūhoe take the lead on delivery and DOC staff getting on board and supporting… that was something very different” (Seconded staff member).

“It’s bloody scary… frustrating but also extremely rewarding. I don’t think I have had a more rewarding job in 34 years of working for the crown” (DOC staff member).

“On paper, the plan for working together looked ‘nuts’ but we set aside our staunch differences and focused on our common goal – the health of the land and the gains that it brings to the community of Tūhoe. We are all winners when we succeed in this,” says Mervyn English.

Editor’s notes:

The Te Urewera Act 2014 meant the former national park Te Urewera, more than 2000 square kilometres of native forest, home to many Tūhoe locals, would no longer be owned by Crown or Iwi. Instead, it would become a legal entity in and of itself with all the rights of a person. The settlement legislation was clear - to protect Te Urewera for its intrinsic worth, its distinctive natural and cultural values, the integrity of those values, and for its national importance

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