Mātauranga and Taonga Māori and the Intellectual Property System

The Government is developing a whole-of-government approach to address the issues raised in the Wai 262 inquiry. This creates an opportunity to take a holistic approach to protecting mātauranga and taonga Māori in the intellectual property system.

Wai 262 inquiry

In 2011, the Waitangi Tribunal released its report, Ko Aotearoa Tēnei: A Report into Claims Concerning New Zealand Law and Policy Affecting Māori Culture and Identity. This report responds to one of the largest and most complex inquiries considered by the Waitangi Tribunal.

The Tribunal considered, among other things, who is entitled to participate in decisions affecting indigenous flora and fauna, the environment, Māori culture and the products of Māori culture.

Waitangi Tribunal report(external link)

A whole-of-government approach

On 28 August 2019, Minister for Māori Development, Hon Nanaia Mahuta, announced that the Government is developing a whole-of-government approach to address the issues raised by the Wai 262 inquiry.

The Government is committed to making progress on the issues raised by the Wai 262 inquiry and wants take a deliberate and coordinated approach, in partnership with Māori, to address these important cross-cutting issues.

At this stage the Government intends to organise itself around three kete:

  • Kete 1: Taonga Works me te Mātauranga Māori
  • Kete 2: Taonga Species me te Mātauranga Māori
  • Kete 3: Kawenata Aorere/Kaupapa Aorere.

Targeted engagement on the Wai 262 work programme

The Government has begun targeted engagement with Māori technical experts, Māori advisory boards, national Māori bodies and subject specialists. This targeted engagement will shape how Government approaches this work, the work programme and how we engage with Māori and the wider public on this significant kaupapa.

You can find more information about the three kete and the targeted engagement process on the Te Puni Kōkiri website(external link)

Share your views and stay up to date!

Te Puni Kōkiri, the Ministry responsible for coordinating this work, is interested in hearing your views on this kaupapa and the Crown’s initial proposals for how the work will be organised.

Share your views by emailing wai262@tpk.govt.nz

Protecting taonga works in intellectual property

Facilitating kaitiakitanga over taonga works and mātauranga Māori is proposed for future work in kete 1 of the whole-of-government approach to issues raised in Wai 262. This includes the option of "developing a new legal framework governing the use of taonga works and mātauranga Māori".

MBIE’s engagement on ways to approach the taonga works kaupapa

As part of the review of the Copyright Act 1994, MBIE proposed a separate work stream dedicated to considering Chapter 1 of the Wai 262 report and sought views on how the Crown should work with Māori and others to develop a legal framework for the protection of taonga works and mātauranga Māori.

The people we heard from were very supportive of the Government launching a policy development process on taonga works, and reinforced to us that this kaupapa goes well beyond MBIE’s work on intellectual property policy. This has influenced bringing taonga works within the whole-of-government approach to Wai 262 issues being led by Te Puni Kōkiri.

You can read more about our engagement on taonga works and feedback we received here.

Protecting taonga species in intellectual property

Facilitating kaitiakitanga over taonga species and mātauranga Māori is proposed for future work in kete 2 of the whole-of-government approach to issues raised in Wai 262.

Patent Disclosure of Origin

The Waitangi Tribunal recommended that patent applicants should be required to disclose the origin of any genetic resources and/or traditional knowledge used in their inventions.

In 2018, MBIE carried out public consultation on the introduction of a disclosure of origin requirement to the New Zealand patents regime.

The feedback we received supported the introduction of a patent disclosure of origin requirement, but preferred this work to be progressed in the context of a comprehensive bioprospecting policy.

As a result, policy development on a domestic disclosure of origin requirement will be included in the targeted engagement for kete 2. We acknowledge the importance of taking a coordinated and holistic approach on this issue and will work with other agencies to achieve this.

You can read more about the consultation on the patent disclosure of origin requirement here.

Plant Variety Rights Act Review

In 2016, the Government initiated a review of the Plant Variety Rights Act 1987. As part of the review, MBIE has considered whether New Zealand should make changes to the current Plant Variety Rights regime to bring it in line with the 1991 version of the International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV 91). Treaty of Waitangi obligations on the Crown and protecting taonga species have been at the centre of this work.

The Plant Variety Rights Act review touches on issues related to taonga species and Māori rights in international treaty negotiations. This review falls with kete 2, but will continue to be advanced by MBIE, alongside the whole-of-government Wai 262 work programme.

This is because of the deadlines imposed on the New Zealand Government by the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

Read more about the Plant Variety Act Review here