3 The Treaty of Waitangi and Research

Monday, 23 January 2017
4E (Washington State Convention Center )
Harvey Stern, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia; and J. Deverell
Manuscript (1.2 MB)

Handout (544.9 kB)

In their book, "The Law of Research" (Editors: John Dawson and Nicola Peart; University of Otago Press, 2003), there is a Chapter that is most relevant to the subject of this Symposium.

The Chapter, "The Treaty of Waitangi and Research", by Bevan Tipene-Matua and John Dawson, beautifully covers the matter of respecting Indigenous people's cultural and intellectual property rights.

Tipene-Matua and Dawson describe the Treaty of Waitangi as an agreement "between Maori and the British concerning the future of New Zealand as it entered the British Empire".

Specifically with regard to research, Tipene-Matua and Dawson note that the Treaty's "general terms suggest that it is legitimate for laws to be enacted to regulate research in the national interest, but Maori should, in turn, participate fully in the allocation and use of research funds, the state should actively promote research by and for Maori, and Maori should control research within their communities and with their resources". 

Whilst the focus of the aforementioned work largely is on the situation in New Zealand, the concerns raised therein about the misppropriation of Indigenous people's traditional knowledge, and its commentary about how such concerns might be addressed  - for example, via the adoption of codes of conduct "that ensure Maori consent when collecting and using Indigenous information" - have a much wider application.

After all, many authors around the globe (such as Lehman et al., in a paper presented to the 2004 Annual Meeting of the AMS) have raised "the importance of ethical issues, in the context that past scientific studies have often not sought permission from the original Indigenous owners for the use of cultural heritage".

The work of Bevan Tipene-Matua and John Dawson provides a way forward.

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