Te Ara Paerangi statement: Embedding Te Tiriti o Waitangi

This statement outlines how the Te Ara Paerangi – Future Pathways programme will seek to uphold and give life to Te Tiriti o Waitangi/The Treaty of Waitangi (Te Tiriti) across its work programme, activities and investments in the research, science, and innovation (RSI) sector.

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Towards the future vision of Te Ara Paerangi

Te Ara Paerangi – Future Pathways (Te Ara Paerangi) is a multi-year reform programme that is building a future-focused research, science and innovation (RSI) system to make the most of the opportunities and challenges ahead. The vision of Te Ara Paerangi is 'an RSI system that supports wellbeing for all current and future New Zealanders, a high-wage low emissions economy, and a thriving, protected environment through excellent and impactful RSI.'

The objective to embed Te Tiriti o Waitangi/Treaty of Waitangi [1] (Tiriti) is an essential step to ensuring the RSI system supports the wellbeing of all New Zealanders. It is a means to honour Tiriti obligations and enable Tiriti opportunities in RSI. An increased focus on how the RSI system can invest in Māori aspirations and deliver impact for Māori communities will help grow and advance Aotearoa New Zealand’s innovative economy and improve the wealth and resilience of Māori and Aotearoa New Zealand’s broader communities.

Through investing in the range of talent and knowledge that exists in Māori organisations, businesses and research institutes, and through cultivating an environment that fosters effective partnerships in RSI, MBIE can enable the optimal realisation of excellent and impactful RSI for the betterment of Aotearoa New Zealand.

An explicit focus on Te Tiriti in the RSI system not only enables Tiriti obligations to be met, but creates new opportunities for solution seeking, problem solving, creativity, innovation and, importantly, new ways to ensure that Māori communities, along with the other communities of Aotearoa New Zealand, can contribute to and benefit from purposeful RSI investment.

Te Ara Paerangi background

When Te Ara Paerangi was launched, only 1 of the 6 pieces of legislation under the responsibility of the Minister of Research, Science and Innovation referred to Te Tiriti[2]. The Vision Mātauranga policy, published by the Ministry of Research, Science and Technology in 2005 and now administered by MBIE, referred to Te Tiriti but did not outline how Te Tiriti was to be upheld through the policy. RSI funding policies generally have not referenced Te Tiriti and instead referred to the Vision Mātauranga policy[3].

In 2022, MBIE commissioned an independent report that confirmed there had been low levels of investment in Māori RSI activity. Inconsistent data collection practices across research funding also made it difficult to determine whether research investments in general were genuinely delivering to Māori aspirations, growing capacity or contributing to the Crown’s Tiriti obligations[4]. At the same time, 2 RSI workforce surveys provided evidence that the RSI system had underperformed at growing a workforce of Māori researchers across the sector[5].

Multiple independent reports, previous RSI consultation exercises and Waitangi Tribunal findings have raised the need for an explicit Tiriti focus in the RSI sector and to meet Tiriti obligations in the research sector [6],[7],[8].

Many submissions during the consultation phase of Te Ara Paerangi sought better alignment of the sector with Te Tiriti:

  • for tikanga and mātauranga Māori to be valued and attract greater investment
  • adequate protections for taonga
  • development of the Māori science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) workforces and leadership
  • investment in more Māori-led research
  • investments to address the aspirations of Māori communities and end users.

These and other data highlighted that new approaches are needed to ensure the RSI sector can rise to meet the aspirations of Te Tiriti and deliver to Tiriti obligations. In such a system, RSI activities and investments would speak to the interests and opportunities that arise from Māori communities, knowledge, talent and innovation - as RSI leaders, in partnerships, and as contributors to and recipients of a thriving Aotearoa New Zealand.

In December 2022, the Minister of Research, Science, and Innovation set out the Crown’s direction for reforming Aotearoa New Zealand’s RSI system in the "Te Ara Paerangi – Future Pathways White Paper" (the White Paper). 1 of the 4 reform objectives was 'Embedding Te Tiriti.'

To support this objective, the White Paper signalled the release of a statement on Te Tiriti that would guide Te Ara Paerangi programme to raise visibility of Te Tiriti in the RSI sector and to give effect to Tiriti obligations and opportunities in the design and delivery of its reforms.

Use of Te Ara Paerangi statement

Te Ara Paerangi statement describes elements and attributes of an RSI sector that embeds Te Tiriti. The statement serves as a framework for how MBIE will assess its activities in Te Ara Paerangi as contributing to Tiriti obligations and opportunities. MBIE acknowledges that there are numerous other government agencies, organisations, collectives, and actors, both public and private, that comprise the RSI sector. The statement is a general signal to the sector of the range of considerations MBIE will undertake in its activities and investments in RSI and in its recommendations to the Crown.

RSI organisations and actors may wish to refer to the statement to understand MBIE’s intentions and directions, and to inform their own work to embed Te Tiriti in their activities and goals.

The statement contributes to MBIE meeting its obligations under the "Public Service Act 2022" to support the Crown in strengthening its relationship with Māori under Te Tiriti and to build its capability, capacity and cultural intelligence.

Therefore, it is intended that the Te Ara Paerangi statement -

  • describes the aspiration being sought by Embedding Te Tiriti in Te Ara Paerangi
  • provides the basis for how Te Ara Paerangi can contribute to government Tiriti obligations in the RSI system
  • guides MBIE in its role as a steward, funder and administrator of RSI.

Articles of Te Tiriti

MBIE recognises that there are matters and differences in position that have not been fully resolved between Māori and the Crown relating to Te Tiriti. Consistent with Crown policy, Te Ara Paerangi adheres to the guidance from Te Arawhiti and the Cabinet Office Guidelines[9], which refer to 3 articles of Te Tiriti as:

  • Article 1 | Kawanatanga – The Crown gained the right to govern.
  • Article 2 | Tino Rangatiratanga – The Crown promises that Māori will have the right to make decisions over resources and taonga which they wish to retain.
  • Article 3 | Ōritetanga – The Crown promises that its obligations to New Zealand citizens are owed equally to Māori.

Principles of Te Tiriti

Te Ara Paerangi acknowledges that the Courts and Waitangi Tribunal have provided a range of views concerning the broader spirit of Te Tiriti which includes the principles of partnership, reciprocity, mutual benefit, active protection, and redress[10]. Te Ara Paerangi considers these principles and duties that are reflected in the following 3 impact areas.

  • Partnership: refers to the Crown’s duty to act reasonably, honourably, and in good faith, and to act within the principle of reciprocity, and the duty to make informed decisions.
  • Active Protection: refers to the Crown’s obligation to take positive steps to ensure that Māori interests are actively protected, to act in the principle of redress and obligation on the Crown to remedy past breaches.
  • Participation: refers to the Crown’s obligation to empower Māori communities to achieve their needs and aspirations.

Mutually supporting policy arrangments

Embedding Te Tiriti and the adoption of the Te Ara Paerangi statement has relevance to:

  • Te Pae Tawhiti[11], the whole-of-government work programme, led by Te Puni Kōkiri, to address the issues raised by the Wai 262 claim and the resulting Waitangi Tribunal report, Ko Aotearoa Tēnei. Te Pae Tawhiti commits to a coordinated approach across government agencies in the use, protection and development of mātauranga Māori and taonga Māori. Te Pae Tawhiti directly relates to matters in the RSI sector when it comes to mātauranga Māori (for example how mātauranga Māori in RSI is assessed, funded, managed, developed and protected appropriately) and activities relating to taonga Māori, including collections and databases.
  • Aotearoa New Zealand’s interest in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UN Declaration), specifically Article 31 of the UN Declaration. Article 31 sets out Indigenous Peoples’ rights to maintain, control, protect and develop their cultural heritage, traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions, as well as the current and future manifestations of their sciences, technologies and cultures. This includes human and genetic resources, seeds and medicines and knowledge of the properties of fauna and flora.
  • MBIE’s Diversity in Science statement to support the interlinkages between Diversity and Inclusion and Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
  • MBIE’s Vision Mātauranga policy, which refers to unlocking the science and innovation potential of Māori knowledge, resources and people.

Te Ara Paerangi statement – Embedding Te Tiriti o Waitangi

The aspiration for research, science and innovation 

An RSI system that fosters and advances effective thinking and practice of Te Tiriti as a key element of success for a thriving and prosperous Aotearoa New Zealand.

Embedding Te Tiriti

An RSI system that fosters and advances effective Tiriti practice is essential for enabling a fair, just, equal and equitable research system and a more cohesive Aotearoa New Zealand. This includes:

  • promoting effective partnerships and suitable representation of Māori across RSI workforces, governance, leadership and management
  • broad and purposeful investment in mātauranga[12] and the promotion of a thriving ecosystem of Māori-led and community-led RSI activity
  • recognising the rights, interests, duties and responsibilities of Māori in the allocation of resources for the realisation of RSI aspirations and adequate stewardship of rights.

General understandings

In upholding Tiriti obligations, Te Ara Paerangi:

Acknowledges the importance of forging respectful relationships with Māori in accordance with Te Tiriti and its principles.

Affirms the right of Māori to self-determination and to participate in decision-making, including matters concerning the active protection of taonga that affect their rights, interests, duties, and responsibilities.

Values and respects that Māori have research, science, and innovation systems sourced in te ao Māori that are inherent to their tikanga, history, identity, values, culture, ancestry, and economic wellbeing.

Acknowledges and affirms that Māori have the right to be free from discrimination in all its forms, including in RSI policies, funding, and the establishment and management of their RSI activities and organisations.

Recognises the need to honour, respect, and promote the rights of Māori including those in applicable domestic and international laws, treaties, agreements, and other constructive arrangements.


MBIE will develop and manage a work programme that outlines and reports its progress to deliver to the various elements of the statement.


Te Ara Paerangi statement and its work programme may be reviewed, amended or refined by recommendation to the Deputy Secretary for Labour, Science and Enterprise to ensure that the approaches to Embedding Te Tiriti remains relevant, credible and responsive to the changing RSI environment and the interests of Māori, the Crown and the RSI sector.


The Deputy Secretary for Labour, Science and Enterprise will have responsibility for the Te Ara Paerangi statement.


[1] MBIE recognises that Te Tiriti o Waitangi and the Treaty of Waitangi are 2 distinct versions, and not direct translations of the Treaty.

[2] Section 10 of the Crown Research Institutes Act 1992 refers to Te Tiriti o Waitangi and only in reference to the transfer of land. "In relation to the transfer, pursuant to this Act, of any land, or any interest in any land, to a Crown Research Institute or a Crown entity subsidiary of a Crown Research Institute, the shareholding Ministers shall have regard to the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi (Te Tiriti o Waitangi)."

Treaty of Waitangi Act 1975 – legislation.govt.nz(external link)

[3] Vision Mātauranga policy

[4] Government investment in Māori research, science and innovation

[5] Research, Science, and Innovation (RSI) Workforce Surveys

[6] Te Pūtahitanga: A Tiriti–led Science-Policy Approach for Aotearoa New Zealand(external link), Kukutai, Tahu et al., 2021

[7] Ko Aotearoa Tēnei: A Report into Claims Concerning New Zealand Law and Policy Affecting Māori Culture and Identity(external link), Waitangi Tribunal, 2011 (see 6.1.3 The research, science, and technology agencies)

[8] A Guide to Vision Mātauranga: Lessons from Māori Voices in the New Zealand Science Sector [PDF 3.1MB](external link), Rauika Māngai, 2020

[9] Cabinet Office Guidelines at CO (19) 5 "Te Tiriti o Waitangi/Treaty of Waitangi Guidance"

[10] He Tirohanga ō Kawa ki te Tiriti o Waitangi: A Guide to the Principles of the Treaty of Waitangi as expressed by the Courts and the Waitangi Tribunal(external link) — Te Puni Kōkiri (2001) pp.73-106. 
On p.116 of He Tirohanga, it notes that the Royal Commission on Social Policy (1988) focussed on "3 principles – partnership, protection, participation – [which it considered] crucial to an understanding of social policy and upon which the Treaty of Waitangi impacts".

[11] Te Pae Tawhiti: Wai 262(external link) — Te Puni Kōkiri (tpk.govt.nz)

[12] Refers to Māori knowledge inclusive of various terms in use, such as mātauranga Māori, kōrero, mātauranga tuku iho, taha Māori, etc., relevant to research, science and innovation.

Last updated: 18 October 2023