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Durham University

Institute of Advanced Study

IAS Staff

Publication details for Professor Veronica Strang

Strang, V. (2011). Elusive Forms: materiality and cultural diversity in the ownership of water. In Property Rights and Sustainability: the evolution of property rights to meet ecological challenges. Grinlinton, D. & Taylor, P. Leiden: Brill | Nijhoff. 195-218.

Author(s) from Durham


This chapter uses a Maori conceptual framework to examine human perceptions of the natural environment to challenge some of the taken-for-granted wisdom of the West. It acknowledges the importance of the constitutional relationship between Maori and the Crown and of Pakeha-based property relationships in Aotearoa /New Zealand, as possible ways of resolving environmental concerns that affect everyone. Maori are the tangata whenua (land people) or original inhabitants of Aotearoa/ New Zealand. Tino rangatiratanga (absolute chieftainship) is an important principle of Maori constitutional law. The difference between Maori and Western paradigms is clearer when fundamental ideas about the environment that informs Maori law are contrasted with Western legal approaches. The establishment of the Waitangi Tribunal in 1975 to investigate Maori grievances against the New Zealand Crown for breaches of the principles of the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi provided an opportunity to revisit the Maori text of the Treaty.

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