LEGAL407-22B- Climate Change Law

Task Description:

You are required to write an Essay

  • Maximum length is 3500 words including references.
  • Compliance with the Style Guide is required. (But: no bibliography and no cover sheet.)
  • The Essay is to be submitted through Moodle.
  • The Essay contributes 33% towards the final mark for the paper.



Topic: How can Māori concerns with climate change be given legal effect? Consider one kind of concern, whether in mitigation or adaptation.

1         Introduction

The approximately 300 years of cultural enslavement and marginalisation that came before today’s Māori made them more susceptible to the effects of climate change caused by human activity. This increased their social sensitivity to the consequences of climate change. Socioeconomic status, health, political influence, knowledge of climate change, access to information, and social support networks of an individual are just some of the many factors that can affect that person’s susceptibility to Mori. Other factors include, but are not limited to, access to information. There is a possibility that vulnerability is also influenced by other factors, including the accessibility of resources, such as information and friendship networks. As we’ve seen, each of them might be interpreted as a metaphor for the disadvantages of living on the periphery of society. The capacity of the Māori people to endure adversity is directly proportionate to the degree to which they are permitted to seek a high level of self-determination. Because they are aware that human activity is one of the primary contributors to the phenomenon of climate change, the Māori people are devoting a significant amount of effort toward finding solutions to this problem. Much Māori work was hard to sustain the concept of kaitiakitanga, also commonly referred to as stewardship of the land. This is because the Māori have profound ties to the land and care for it. The Māori tradition places a high value on respecting the environment, particularly the ground. As a result of learning about this viewpoint, a large number of Māori have taken a more active interest in the debates that surround the topic of climate change and are actively looking for ways to improve both their iwi and their culture. It would be much simpler to bring the Mori up to the same level as the Pkeh if they were afforded the same level of control over their destinies as the Pkeh.[1] Even though climate change could make Māori more vulnerable, it also presents an opportunity for Māori autonomy and better intercultural understanding in New Zealand. If the Mori put more effort into correcting the problems that plague their civilization, perhaps they will become more robust.[2]

2         Legislatures

According to various laws, including the Resource Management Act of 1991 and the Local Government Act of 2002, the regional and local governments of Aotearoa and New Zealand are required to make preparations for the consequences that climate change will have on their areas. (PCE, 2014). This work must be done since it is required by law, but councils have reported that it is difficult, which has led them in recent years to petition the federal government for direction and support. The endeavour, on the other hand, continues to be taxing for the time being (Radio New Zealand 2014). Since 2008, the Ministry of the Environment has been publishing a variety of instructions and proposals for local governments to follow. (As an illustration of this, look at the annual report for 2018 issued by the Ministry of the Environment). Some people still think more information is needed, despite the fact that this guideline has offered forecasts of the physical implications, models for implementing danger approaches in planning, extra careful, and recommendations on how to conduct out community participation. For instance, the results of a recent survey of people who work for the government found that those people working for the government want more guidance from the federal government on the predicted effects of climate change so that they can get on with the business of implementing adaptive measures rather than “debating” the issue within their communities. This is the situation because these individuals have expressed a desire to begin implementing adaptive measures as quickly as possible (see Barth et al. forthcoming).[3]

Municipalities, particularly in low-lying or coastal areas, have pushed climate change adaptation through the use of planning tools and regulatory frameworks that already exist (most notably the RMA 1991 and the LGA 2002). In the majority of instances, this has been the situation. Examples of such systems include the RMA from 1991 and the LGA from 2002. Both of these laws were passed in their respective years. Because they make communication about climate change issues easier and allow for more effective management of such problems, these technologies can be beneficially utilised on all types of land, including private property, public land, and land held by municipalities.[4]  Other have opted to modify district plan designations (2) or have begun planning for dynamic adaptive pathways. In contrast, still, others have taken the extreme step of instituting managed retreats. Some municipalities have even gone so far as to implement managed retreats. While some towns have gone as far as to impose managed retreats, others have merely changed the district plan categories in their area. While some communities have even gone so far as to impose managed retreat, others have not taken such extreme measures. Because of this, the focus of prior attempts has been on strengthening the norms and standards that regulate adaptation plans rather than lowering emissions. This is because adaptation plans are more likely to have a positive impact on the environment. This is a result of the fact that reducing emissions would be detrimental to the planet’s health.[5]

3         Māori Concerns regarding Climate Change

The process of modifying human systems to respond to real or expected shifts in environmental conditions is meant by the phrase “adaptation to climate change” (IPCC 2018). Modifications can range from a single easy step to a complex procedure that takes a lot of effort (Rouse et al., 2016). These adjustments are made to accommodate the aftereffects of change, safeguard assets, escape danger, or avert future dangers. The purpose of adaptation is to soften the blow of the unfavourable effects brought on by climate change and to boost the positive impact that individuals, families, communities, and businesses might enjoy due to the phenomenon. It is imperative that this be accomplished without jeopardising the things that individuals, families, and communities care about and value the most. The most effective application of DAPP is to assist individuals in making sense of the options available to them over time in the context of increasing, compounding, and cascading climate change threats and risks (Lawrence et al., 2020). DAPP recommends coming up with a variety of solutions that can be adopted as time goes on and conditions shift. This will help avoid the foolishness of trying to predict the future, which is a waste of time.[6]

Because of our professional backgrounds, we are intrinsically linked to the colonial histories and experiences of Mori and Mori locations. The majority of our people are Pkeh, which indicates that we are not Mori. Every engagement with Māori academics will be laced with politics over participation, representation.[7] Even though there is a great deal of information on Māori communities, the vast majority of it has been tainted as a result of the theft of indigenous ideas, the marginalisation of indigenous peoples, the inability to involve Māori communities in research, and the failure to return the results of the study to Māori communities. The growing body of research that investigates ways in which researchers (both Mori and pkeh) could be better guests in Mori worlds is a response to Smith’s (2014) call for researchers (including pkeh) to develop and rebuild respectful ties with indigenous groups. Smith called for researchers to create and re-build respectful relations with indigenous groups in his article “Researchers (including pkeh) Should Develop and Re-Build Respectful Ties This growing body of literature outlines many ways in which scientists (both Mori and pkeh) could make their visits to Mori worlds feel more comfortable for guests.

The impact of climate change is likely to be felt everywhere throughout Aotearoa–New Zealand. This is something that may be anticipated. Regarding the impact of global warming, Māori people are among the demographics who are most at risk everywhere on the planet. The Māori people will experience harm to their economic interests, cultural resources, and cultural traditions as a direct consequence of the outcome. Most Māori lives in urban areas, but a sizeable portion of the population also lives in rural areas.[8] In rural areas, the interdependence of economic, social, and cultural systems with natural environmental systems makes critical infrastructure and services more susceptible to disruption. However, the urban areas are home to most Māori (such as traditional resource use, tourism, fisheries, and agriculture). Although most Māori lives in urban areas, a significant number continue to designate rural areas as their primary residence (e.g., flooding, landslides, water services). The capability of Māori to plan for and adapt to threats posed by climate change to their assets (i.e., buildings, farms, forests, native forests, coastal resources, and corporations) differs significantly among regions with high concentrations of Māori and high risks of extreme weather. It is common for the frequency of Treaty of Waitangi restitution[9] to have an adverse effect on this capacity in locales that are home to substantial Māori populations (or lack thereof). Remark 2 (i.e., Tangoio marae). As a result of this, marae and other Mori property that is located in low-lying locations or in proximity to bodies of water are in danger. As a result of our slow response to worsening crises, we will have to concede that we will have to give up land and cultural resources for the sake of future generations. Māori authors have found that many Māori communities and businesses lack the technological know-how, financial backing, and institutional transformation (also sometimes called decolonizing institutions) needed to deal with climate change. This is a problem because climate change is a severe issue.

4         Concern of Adaptation

As a new field of Mori climate change and natural catastrophes science grows, the documentation of Mori knowledge and the launching pad it provides for learning about Mori traditions, perceptions of vulnerability, and perspectives on adaptation are becoming increasingly significant as a result.[10] The documenting of Mori knowledge is moving increasingly toward giving more weight to the research of climate change and natural disasters. Many various forms of Mori communities communicate with one another, ranging from regional what (extended families), hap (kinship groupings or sub-tribes), and iwi (tribal groups) to national Mori organisations (such as the Iwi Chairs Forum Climate Change Leaders Group, Te Ara What, Federation of Mori Authorities, and Te Wai Mori). Strategies for adaptation as well as the potential impacts of climate change on Mori are currently under discussion. This material can be found in public records and scholarly journals, as well as the theses and dissertations, written by graduate students in Mori’s classes. The need for academics to give a higher emphasis on Mori people, places, and knowledge is a recurring issue among authors who write on Mori (e.g., people, places, cultural practices, species). It is possible that the formalisation of Mori governance, values, and competence associated with adjusting to environmental risks could be facilitated by breaking and constructively disrupting the dependent on non-Mori institutions (Parsons et al., 2019). Two strategies for accomplishing this objective are to make use of indigenous knowledge and to involve local communities in the decision-making process. Short- and medium-term goals for Mori societies to adapt to climate change, as well as pathways for the development of strategies as well as reaches that are able to respond to the best possible minimising of the consequences of climate change, are two of the most important areas of focus for research in this area right now.[11]

When we work toward developing partnerships with Mori organisations that are advantageous to both parties, we consider all of these different aspects. The rising body of scholarly work coming from the Mori community and the unrelenting efforts of the Mori people have inspired our willingness to assist in the goal of enabling and funding climate change adaptation in Mori (on their terms). Because of the variety of tasks that fall under their purview, local governments are “on the front line” when it comes to tackling the effects that climate change is having on their communities.[12] This encompasses everything from the control of flooding and management of rainwater to the operation and maintenance of infrastructure, as well as concerns about freshwater management and coastal difficulties because many climate-related problems, such as flood control and stormwater management, fall under the purview of local governments, this places them “on the front line” of climate change adaptation because many climate-related concerns fall under the purview of local governments. According to the Climate Change Adaptation Technical Working Group, although local governments play an essential part in preparing for the effects of climate change, not all councils have recognised this as an urgent matter. This is even though local governments play a crucial role in this preparation. Even though municipalities play critical roles in the process of preparation, this is the situation that prevails.

5         Legal reflection of Māori concern

After doing research (Ministry of the Environment 2020) on a total of forty-eight different municipal agencies for its Stocktake Report, the Working Group arrived at the conclusion that was presented below. Even while most local governments have a good understanding of the dangers posed by climate change, the Stocktake Report discovered that the majority of them were only in the beginning stages of developing their strategies for adaptation. This was found even though most communities were well aware of the dangers of climate change. The Auckland Unitary Plan includes several examples of adaptation methods, such as flood hazard maps and restrictions on land development in areas that are at risk from sea level rise. These are only two examples of adaptation tactics. However, even though there has been working in this field, the government has not yet implemented comprehensive plans, rules, or strategies to deal with the specific dangers that climate change brings to Mori freehold property under Mori Freehold property Act. When governmental agencies are tasked with making choices relating to natural resources, the RMA is intended to serve as a reference that can be consulted by those bodies. The authority to make decisions has been delegated to the level of government closest to the people and the environment being managed, in keeping with the principle of subsidiarity, which has guided the evolution of the system for resource management.[13]

For the RMA to carry out its duties per the legislation requirements, it is essential for decisions to be made about the RMA’s adaptation to climate change. Most of the deciding factor comes from the formal plans and programmes offered by the various municipal and regional administrations to assist local authorities in meeting the sustainable management duties outlined in the RMA, Section 73 of the RMA makes the development of district plans a mandatory requirement. To remain in conformity with the RMA, the authorities responsible for the creation of district plans are required to “pay particular consideration to” the effects that climate change will have on the surrounding environment. They are required to give priority to Māori interests by clause 6(e), and they are required to adhere to the values outlined by the Treaty of Waitangi per section. In general, the legislative guidance offered to local governments does not do an excellent job of addressing the issue of adaptation. This is true both in terms of its content and its execution. Even though the LGA acknowledges the importance of preventing climate change, it does not require local governments to take action in this regard. The RMA takes into account a wide variety of concerns, including as the effects of climate change and the requirements of the indigenous Mori people. This helps provide some light on the mystery of why a comparatively small number of municipal governments have taken steps to amend Mori freehold property.

Because there are no federal rules and uncertainty over the available resources, many local governments do not have the knowledge necessary to construct effective adaptation strategies. It is difficult for local governments to face such significant issues when they do not receive assistance from higher authorities. When a disproportionate amount of money is dedicated to safeguarding particular beachfront homes, there is a possibility that tensions will arise among the persons who are responsible for paying the regional rates. Regarding the contributions from ratepayers, some of the smallest councils face the most challenging issues with their coastal districts. In coastal locations, maintaining order isn’t always the easiest thing to do. This is typically the case because they do not have the financial resources to address the issues that develop. 143 The necessity that councils in areas with a substantial concentration of Mori freehold land give rate reduction or deferral to owners of Mori freehold land is already a hindrance for councils in those regions. It is essential to put the land to good use and enhance the emotional ties between the land and its owners to increase the likelihood that landowners will pay higher rates. It is unlikely that such land would ever be developed because there is not enough money to make it more habitable and resistant to natural risks. There is no feasible solution to this issue that does not involve providing assistance to the liable property owners or municipal governments in the area in question.[14]

6    Conclusion

Up until this point, the issue of adjusting one’s lifestyle in the awake of the climate change has been overseen by the federal government. This has been accomplished through the passage of laws and the establishment of regulations that are relevant to the administration of the environment in general. Several commentators have pointed out that this technique is producing severe problems in the legal system and has left local governments without defined priorities. Both of these issues have been brought to the attention of local governments. The degree to which different communities have prepared for the consequence of climate change varies widely. These effects may have significant repercussions for some communities while having a minor impact on others. This indicates that neither the national nor the municipal government is meeting the requirements of landowners, particularly those of freehold landowners in Mori.

We must begin to deal with the changes that are already imaginable as a result of rising global temperatures, even while decreasing emissions and encouraging other countries to do so should remain a major concern. The implications of our planet’s warming are far-reaching, including but not limited to a rise in sea levels and more intense weather occurrences. To adjust their businesses, communities,[15] and cultures to the new environmental reality, communities at the whanau, hapu and iwi levels must immediately begin developing specific preparations. Climate change adaptation plans and strategies covering topics like a managed retreat and food security are needed. Moving historic places like Peaking and Urup will incur enormous expenses. The Māori Party proposes that the Crown establish a fund to assist individuals, families, clans, and tribes in funding the adaptation measures prioritised within their own adaptation plans.[16]

[1] Angelo, Tony. 2017. “Pacific Islands Review.” Heinonline 716-719.

[2] Barry Barton, Jennifer Campion. 2020. Oxford Academics. 12 May. Accessed October 25, 2022.

[3] Blaschke, Paul. 2020. Integrated land use options for the Aotearoa New Zealand low-emissions ‘careful revolution’. 15 May. Accessed September 25, 2022.’careful_revolution’.


[5] Climate Change Commission. 2020. Ināia tonu nei: a low emissions future for Aotearoa. 27 August. Accessed September 25, 2022.

[6] Governemnt, NewZealand. 2019. Transitioning to a low-emissions future – the Government response to the Productivity Commission’s Low Emissions Economy report. 15 April. Accessed September 25, 2022.

[7] Kerr, Catherine Leining and Suzi. 2020. Lessons Learned from the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme . 11 March. Accessed September 25, 2022.


[9] Lawrence, Jonathan Boston and Judy. 2018. Funding Climate Change Adaptation the case for a new policy framework. 20 May. Accessed September 25, 2022.

[10] Mehling, Michael A. 2019. Designing Border Carbon Adjustments for Enhanced Climate Action. 11 July. Accessed September 25, 2022.

[11] Ministry for the Environment. 2022. Guide to the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme – 2022 update. 21 June. Accessed September 22, 2022.

[12] Ministry of the Environment. 2020. Briefing to the Incoming Minister for Climate Change CLIMATE CHANGE PORTFOLIO. 20 March. Accessed September 25, 2022.

[13] —. 2020. MFE-AoG-20664-GF-National-Adaptation-Plan-2022-WEB. 15 April. Accessed September 25, 2022.

[14] NewYork Times. 2021. BlackRock Chief Pushes a Big New Climate Goal for the Corporate World. 22 March. Accessed September 25, 2022.

[15] Springer Link. 2019. Small Pacific Island States and the Catastrophe of Climate Change. 15 October. Accessed September 25, 2022.

[16] Smith. 2020. New Zealand Climate Science Education Trust v. National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research Ltd. 12 April. Accessed September 25, 2022.

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