Tāone Tupu Ora – Māori involvement in urban planning and development

urban iwi, may we rise up and be counted.
may our voices be heard in this whenua,
that is Our home.
may we pull the mana of our tupuna from
within our globalised selves, and breathe again.

Tihei Mauri Ora! There is life within us!
Samuel Cruickshank

We propose that increasing authentic Māori participation in creating urban futures will significantly contribute to making New Zealand cities more resilient, liveable and competitive.

Tāone Tupu Ora has four complementary areas of investigation:

  • New models for Māori leadership and collective decision-making in urban development
  • Resiliency and Māori engagement in disaster planning
  • Relationships between Māori and local government following the settlement of Treaty claims in urban areas
  • How Māori organisations plan and prepare for sustainable and resilient urban futures

Maungakiekie (One Tree Hill), the first major urban centre in Aotearoa New Zealand


As result of colonisation, many Māori tribal homes, social and political structures have been subsumed within cities. The impacts for Māori have included not only economic loss, and the pollution and loss of traditional food sources, but erosion of identity and mana.  As well, the cities in which contemporary Māori live fail to reflect Māori traditional knowledge, history and environmental kaitiakitanga (guardianship). Recent developments, including Treaty of Waitangi settlements, amalgamation of local authorities, and rebuilding following the Canterbury earthquakes, have created opportunities for iwi, hapū and urban Māori land trusts to become actively involved in urban development. They have also helped build a small but growing body of Māori knowledge about sustainable urban development, resilience and recovery.


We are developing an analytical framework based on TePaeMahutonga. The project takes a mixed-methods qualitative approach, so we can develop with end-users an understanding of the key drivers affecting iwi involvement in urban planning and development. We draw on existing literature, key informant interviews, focus groups, participant observation and Q-methodology. We gather input and support from participating iwi, hapū, Māori organisations, councils and central government agencies, and run workshops to define and analyse the issues, drawing on local knowledge where appropriate. We also provide a demographic analysis of mana whenua and taura here populations within four major urban areas.

Article on the work >>

Research team

Keriata Stuart, John Ryks, Anaru Waa, Biddy Livesey, Jonathan Kilgour


Waa A M, A L Pearson, J L Ryks (2017) Premature mortality resilience and wellbeing within urban Māori communities, Health & Place, 43: 49–56, January

Livesey B (2016) Opening the heart of a (post) colonial city: Histories, icons, and spatial structure in the city of Hamilton, Aotearoa NZ, (pdf) Proceedings of 13th Australasian Urban History Planning History conference, Gold Coast, Jan – Feb, pp.250–261

Ngā Aho and Papa Pounamu (2016) Better urban planning: Report from Māori built environment practitioners wānanga, (pdf) D Whaanga-Schollum, B Livesey*, R Kahui- McConnell, D Menzies eds. commissioned by the Productivity Commission, Tāmaki Makaurau.
* Researcher, Resilient Urban Futures

Ryks J, A Pearson, A Waa  (2016) Mapping urban Māori: A population-based study of Māori heterogeneity, New Zealand Geographer

Whaanga-Schollum D, C Robinson, K Stuart, B Livesey, B Reed (2016) ‘Ensuring the container is strong’: Regenerating urban mauri through wānanga, Landscape Journal

Stuart K, L Mellish (2016) Tūrangawaewae, time and meaning: Two urban Māori icons, Proceedings of 13th Australasian Urban History Planning History conference, Gold Coast, Jan – Feb

Ryks J, P Howden-Chapman, B Robson, K Stuart, A Waa (2014) Maori participation in urban development: Challenges and opportunities for indigenous people in Aotearoa New Zealand, Lincoln Planning Review, 6, 1-2