Consultation concerning novel biotechnologies: Who Speaks For Maori? (PDF)

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A great resource for you whanau.

Abstract: Existing tensions between western science and indigenous knowledge systems, values and beliefs are exacerbated by novel biotechnologies such as (GMOs).

Under legislation governing GMOs in New Zealand the Crown is required to consult Maori (indigenous people) concerning the potential impact of such technologies on their culture and traditions, as outlined in Article II of the Treaty of Waitangi (signed in 1840 and considered the founding document of New Zealand).

GMOCDrawing upon research conducted among Maori concerning their views on GMOs, as well as experience gained by the author as a member of the Maori advisory committee to the agency that administers the legislation, this article examines some of the issues surrounding consultation between Maori and the Crown.

Challenges for Maori include issues of mandate, transparency and conflicts of interest between individuals, hapu (sub-tribes) and tribal authorities concerning who speaks for the collective. The challenge for Crown regulators is to better understand these complexities and to ensure that adequate time and information is provided for informed consultation between the parties. The development of best practice consultation in a tribal collective, as well as externally between it and the Crown partner, is an issue of international relevance for the ethics of knowledge production and use.

Mere Roberts

Dr Mere Roberts is of Maori and Pakeha descent. She taught at the University of Auckland Schools of Medicine, Biological Sciences and Environmental Sciences before being appointed Head of Science at Te Whare Wananga o Awanuiarangi, one of three Maori tertiary educational institutions. Mere is currently Honorary Research Fellow in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Auckland. Her research interests are in indigenous knowledge systems and ecological knowledge, with a focus on matauranga putaiao (Maori scientific knowledge). Email: mere.roberts@auckland.ac.nz

Other works by Dr Roberts:

1 COMMENT

  1. "I suspect a lot could be gained by going back in time to Aroha Mead's original work in the early 90s on the human genome project. At that time Aroha highlighted the issues relating to Maori & other indigenous peoples around science, ownership, beneficiaries, privacy, unknown impacts and our whakapapa. Important that her early work is not lost because it is still relevant today."

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