RIMU Insights: Te mura o te ahi – the heat of the battle: how science and the social converge in the struggle for the environment

April Bennett
Auckland Council Research and Evaluation Unit, RIMU
Publication date:

Slides for a presentation given at a RIMU Insights talk Auckland, 8 November 2017.


Dr April Bennett Tūwharetoa, Waikato, Tūhoe, Ngāti Raukawa ki te Tonga

Lecturer, Māori Resource and Environmental Planning at Massey University Te Papaiōea

Science is a dominant form of knowledge in planning processes. As such, Māori must use science strategically to understand the issues and to pursue the outcomes we want for the environment and our people. However, there are limits to the extent to which science can help Māori achieve these outcomes.  Recognising these limits, Māori must build our own knowledge of ourselves and the lands and waters to which we connect, and use it in planning processes to advance our aspirations. It is in this knowledge that our strength lies.

This argument is based on a case study involving the AFFCO Meat Processing Plant in Feilding, Manawatū. AFFCO applied for a suite of consents to continue to discharge treated meat works effluent until 2050 into the Oroua River, the ancestral river of Ngāti Kauwhata.

Dr Bennett was engaged by Ngāti Kauwhata to prepare a Cultural Impact Assessment of the discharge. Pierre Bourdieu’s concepts of field, capital, game and strategy are used to analyse the consent process. The analysis makes visible the nuances of the contest between AFFCO and Ngāti Kauwhata, and the emphasis on Māori knowledge as a deliberate strategy to protect the Oroua River and its people. 

See also

Presentation video

Last updated: 2018-02-20