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Intellectual Property, Mātauranga Māori

This literature review has been conducted to consider the various national legislation and international agreements that comprise New Zealand’s Intellectual Property Rights (IP) regime. It will evaluate if and how such legislation and agreements protect and enable Māori IP rights and interests with respect to Māori data, genomic data and mātauranga Māori. The review also identifies some mechanisms that might also enhance Māori control of these types of data. The Westminster approach of legislation in New Zealand and its approach to IP protection based on Copyrights, Patents and Trade Marks are juxtaposed against traditional Maori approaches of communally held ancestral knowledge (mātauranga) passed down through generations (whanaungatanga) based on guardianship and protection (kaitiakitanga) and the self-determination of use of such knowledge (rangatiratanga). Attempting to align tikanga concepts to the Westmionster model of law is challenging as the two share completely different notions of ownership and responsibility. Expectations of protection, to prevent misappropriation and commercialisation by non- Māori of mātauranga Māori and Māori data, extend beyond the parameters of existing IP law, creates a similar disjunct. Genomic Research generates data, some of which can be protected by IP, however researchers working with genetic/genomic data from taonga species have often failed to acknowledge the non-IP interests of Maori. As a result, Maori have taken it upon themselves to advocate for their rights to data through Māori data sovereignty discourse as well as create guidelines for culturally appropriate genomic research with explicit references to data security and management (e.g. Te Mata Ira, Te Nohonga Kaitiaki). Other extra-legal options, such as Biocultural Labelling to alert users where particular data has Māori rights and/or interests, are emerging to maintain create durable provenance data and connect next users of data with the responsible Indigenous communities. Though the intellectual property regime in New Zealand may provide some protections, there are still significant areas where the legal system does not provide sufficient protections for Māori data, taonga species and mātauranga. The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples provides a framework of international support for Indigenous rights, but local government and other home-grown mechanisms are important to enable Māori governance of data. Local approaches Māori Data Sovereignty and Māori Data Governance afford Maori the opportunity to be directly involved as kaitiaki of their mātauranga and assert rangatiratanga over data and its use.
Type of thesis
Rogena Sterling, KatieLee Riddle, Robert Brooks, Jane Anderson and Maui Hudson Intellectual Property, Mātauranga Māori, and Māori Data: Report prepared for Science for Technological Innovation National Science Challenge & Genomics Aotearoa. Te Kotahi Research Institute, University of Waikato: Hamilton, May 2021.
Te Kotahi Research Institute University of Waikato