Protecting taonga works and mātauranga Māori

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 asking whether there should be a new legal framework to protect taonga works and mātauranga Māori and, if so, what that should look like.

What are taonga works?

The Waitangi Tribunal described taonga works as the tangible and intangible expressions of Māori artistic and cultural traditions, founded in and reflecting the body of knowledge and understanding known as mātauranga Māori. Examples of taonga works include haka, karakia, waiata, weavings, carvings, tā moko and designs.

The Tribunal also used the term ‘taonga-derived works’ to describe works that derive inspiration from mātauranga Māori or a taonga work, but without necessarily relating to or invoking ancestral connections (whakapapa), or containing or reflecting traditional narratives or stories in any direct way. 

Waitangi Tribunal’s recommendations

The Waitangi Tribunal’s view was that the protection of taonga works, taonga-derived works and mātauranga Māori should be addressed through a new legal regime, administered by an expert commission on taonga works. This new regime would be distinct from any existing intellectual property regimes, (like the Copyright Act 1994), but would need to align with those regimes.

What we heard from our engagement in 2019

The Issues Paper for the Copyright Act review sought feedback on a number of questions relating to the protection of taonga works and mātauranga Māori.

Read the issues paper [PDF, 3.8 MB].

In addition to the public workshops on the Issues Paper, we held a targeted kōrero session in Wellington to discuss how the Crown and Māori should work together to protect taonga works and mātauranga Māori.

We heard a wide variety of views at the workshops and hui with Māori and received 35 written submissions on the issue.

Read the summary of the discussion at the hui [PDF, 356 KB]

Read the summary of submissions [PDF, 240 KB]

Read the submissions on the Issues Paper that discussed taonga works issues(external link)

Find out more about the Copyright Act review

Get in touch

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Last updated: 02 September 2019