At the 2017 New Zealand Planning Institute conference held in Wellington last week, the Māori special interest group for the institute, Papa Pounamu, recognised Dame Kahurangi Nganeko Minhinnick with the Outstanding Service Award.
Dame Nganeko, Kau Matua for Ngati te ata, has had an empowering role of Māori as tangata whenua and kaitiaki in New Zealand’s resource management planning landscape, and the role of Māori as planning practitioners.
In opposition to activities in the late 1970s and 1980s that polluted and impacted on the wellbeing of the Waikato River and the Manukau Harbour, Dame Nganeko started creating a changing in thinking by planning and legal practitioners within New Zealand’s legal resource management framework regarding the role of Māori.
It was through founded and well-formed submissions to Councils and subsequent appeals to tribunals and courts that Dame Nganeko articulated the concepts of kaitiakitanga and promote institutional/statutory recognition of the relationships Māori have with sites (wāhi tapu) and with water. This active participation by Dame Nganeko would further embed Māori ideals within New Zealand's planning discourse, and recognised accordingly through statutory processes.
Dame Nganeko, alongside other advocates and leading Māori planning practitioners such as Mere Roberts, Carman Kirkwood, and Hirini Matunga, would go on to advance Māori participation, Māori worldview, Māori values, and Māori aspirations as kaitiaki, in New Zealand’s resource management planning framework whilst also encouraging new research and researchers to explore the aspirations of Māori and interdisciplinary efforts to sustainable manage our environment.
It is upon this work that Papa Pounamu and the New Zealand Planning Institute recognise Dame Kahurangi Nganeko Minhinnink or Ngāti Te Ata/Ngāti Te Ata Waiohua.