Kaitiaki – Māori and the environment

“Maori and the environment: Kaitiaki” is a recently published book comprised of 19 essays by Maori scholars and environmental practitioners, all exploring the impact of changes in the environment on Maori, as well as the way in which Maori have attempted (often successfully – sometimes not) to affect change in the way the environment is managed in New Zealand. Continue reading

The history of regional government – Part 2: are we entering a new era?

The earlier article A short history of regional government in NZ contained musings about whether there might be clues in the history of regional government in New Zealand that help explain the predicament that Environment Canterbury (ECan) now finds itself in. The article failed to answer this question, but promised a future article to explore this question further. An examination of our more recent history reveals that this – at least in part, may be a product of an increasingly challenging environmental landscape outgrowing the RMA model of regional council focused on end-of-pipe, point-source pollution. Continue reading

A short history of regional government in NZ

The recent government intervention in Canterbury, which led to the replacement of the Environment Canterbury’s elected council with government-appointed commissioners [click here to read more], has brought regional councils into the spotlight. Regional councils are responsible for the bulk of environmental management and regulation in New Zealand. But what is their history and does their history provide any clues to the plight that ECan finds itself in? Continue reading

Resource management law in NZ – a potted history

Whether we like it or loathe it, the Resource Management Act (RMA) is so much part of our social fabric and the way we make decisions about the environment today, it is hard to believe that only 20 years ago it was considered revolutionary, and groundbreaking by international standards. When it was enacted in 1991, the RMA repealed 78 statutes and regulations, and amended numerous others, to provide a single piece of legislation for the management of land, water, soil and air throughout New Zealand.

It came at a time of great change in local and central governance in New Zealand, particularly in relation to environmental management. Up until 1986, most policy and legislation relating to the environment was developed or administered by the monolithic Ministry of Works or the Forest Service, the key pieces of environmental management legislation being the Town and Country Planning Act 1977 and the Soil Conservation and Rivers Control Act 1941 (not to be confused with the Water and Soil Conservation Act, enacted in 1967) . But by the 1980s, there was a growing recognition that these pieces of legislation had become outdated and were in need of review. Continue reading

Jeanette Fitzsimons: How our attitudes towards the environment have changed 1974 – 2010

Jeanette Fitzsimons, former co-leader of the Green Party, resigned from Parliament in February this year, after a long and influential political and academic career.  envirohistory NZ thought it would be a good opportunity to ask Jeanette about the major shifts she has observed over the last four decades in the way we as New Zealanders view our environment.

In her response to this question, Jeanette highlights three themes: attitudes towards nuclear power, indigenous forestry and farming.

Continue reading