Culture and collaborative conservation? Inter-cultural difference and the Maungatautari Project
Harms, M. (2018). Culture and collaborative conservation? Inter-cultural difference and the Maungatautari Project (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/12007
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/12007
This thesis situates and examines the role of sociocultural difference and biculturalism in the Maungatautari Sanctuary Mountain project, a multi-stakeholder community-based biodiversity conservation project in the Waikato region of New Zealand’s North Island. In the project, Mana Whenua (local indigenous Māori groups) and Pākehā (New Zealanders of British and European descent) from the area endeavour to interact and partner in the non-profit Maungatautari Ecological Island Trust (MEIT) as its primary stakeholder groups. Utilizing sociocultural anthropology, three years of participant observation, participant interviews, fieldwork data and contextualizing history, the role of culture and issues of biculturalism and partnership are examined in relation to the respective sociocultural backgrounds and identity of project participants. Findings indicate that sociocultural difference in the form of varying beliefs, values, attitudes, practices and protocol, and identity/cultural politics have led to dissonance and strained stakeholder interrelations that negatively affected the project. In some instances, a post-colonial ‘neo-paternalism’ marginalised local Māori cultural input and needs in the project. At other times project participants successfully bridged inter-cultural differences. In these occurrences they created a collaborative, complementary, bicultural partnership which valued, sought to understand, and incorporated differing sociocultural aspects, advancing project goals. Further analysis identified an ongoing risk of future multi-stakeholder dissonance relative to culturally-derived disparate views on such issues as cultural harvesting, species reintroductions and care, ecotourism, development on the mountain, and biodiversity research. Normative solutions are identified which can aid Maungatautari stakeholders and other culturally-heterogeneous multi-stakeholder conservation groups work toward and produce inclusive, inter-cultural partnership.
The University of Waikato
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