Who owns native nature? Discourses of rights to land, culture, and knowledge in New Zealand
Goldsmith, M. (2009). Who owns native nature? Discourses of rights to land, culture, and knowledge in New Zealand. International Journal of Cultural Property, 16, 325-339.
Permanent Research Commons link: http://hdl.handle.net/10289/3530
Michael Brown famously asked ‘Who owns native culture?’ This paper revisits that question by analyzing what happens to culture when the culturally defined boundary between it and nature becomes salient in the context of disputes between indigenous and settler populations. My case study is the dispute between the New Zealand government and Maori tribal groupings concerning ownership of the foreshore and seabed. Having been granted the right to test their claims in court in 2003, Maori groups were enraged when the government legislated the right out of existence in 2004. Though the reasons for doing so were clearly political, contrasting cultural assumptions appeared to set Maori and Pakeha (New Zealanders of European origin) at odds. While couching ownership of part of nature as an IPR issue may seem counter-intuitive, I argue that as soon as a property claim destabilizes the nature/culture boundary, IPR discourse becomes pertinent.
Cambridge University Press
This article has been published in the International Journal of Cultural Property. Copyright © 2009 International Cultural Property Society.