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Sport Northland


“The eight strong Sport Northland board now comprises four Māori trustees and four non-Māori trustees and features a co-chair model (tangata tiriti and tangata whenua co-chairs), which is a significant milestone for the organisation and the sector we work in. The six other Trustees  are even numbers of representatives from local government and Te Kahu o Taonui (Te Taitokerau Iwi Chairs Collective). It aligns the organisation with He Whakaputanga and Te Tiriti o Waitangi, which are now acknowledged in the organisation’s Trust Deed as NZ’s founding documents. This ensures that strategic decisions made at the board table are equitable and are made with all Northlanders in mind. The journey the organisation has been on has been challenging at times, and I'm sure that will continue to be the case with these latest changes, but Sport Northland believes it will give us the foundation required to work towards our ultimate goal of seeing all Northlanders moving more for better well-being”.

From: Brent Eastwood, 2021, Sport Northland bi-cultural journey takes a major step forward, Sport Northland.

Brent Eastwood, Sport

Northland CEO

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Western Springs College


“If we are committed to a Treaty partnership, as we are as a nation, it has to be a real partnership. Not ‘sorry guys, there’s more of us, we’re the majority, so this is what we are going to do’. We can’t operate like that if we are true to the spirit of the treaty.

"Irrespective of numbers of people, it was a partnership. We talk about 'walking side by side, hand in hand, wake hourua, double hull canoe'. All those metaphors describe the relationship, and it was never one of majority rule. It was always founded on co-governance, meaning consensus decision-making".

Davis says having Māori at the table "is enhancing decision-making, not derailing it. In all the time I've been here there's never been a vote in relation to any particular decision. It's always been a consensus. Sometimes long board meetings as a result of that, but always consensus".

From Nikki Mandow, Co-governance - It’s nothing like you think,  Newsroom​.

Ivan Davis, Western Springs
College Principal

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Waikato River Authority

Nikki Mandow writes: “Bob Penter has been involved with the Waikato River settlement since the mid-2000s, when he was the senior crown-appointed advisor to the Waikato River Guardians Establishment Committee. Now he’s chief executive of the Waikato River Authority, and co-governance is just how things are done. 

“If we were just a normal board, we might have one or two people at the table appointed to give the iwi perspective. But in my view it can be quite difficult for those people, looking across the table at eight other people that perhaps have a different perspective than they do. And they have to be that sole voice at the table.

“For us, having co-governance, the balanced voice at the table, makes life a lot easier and really helps bring the iwi perspective into all our decision making. Not just a one-off, long-term view, but everything we do.”

From Nikki Mandow, Co-governance - It’s nothing like you thinkNewsroom​.

Bob Penter, CEO Waikato
River Authority

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Waikato Regional Council

Neville Williams sees the transfer of the function of water monitoring around Lake Taupo from the Regional Council to the Tūwharetoa Māori Trust Board as a step towards a relationship between iwi and council that goes further than just the statutory requirements.

“Now when we consider all of those discretionary opportunities we can move into a space of trust based on success and mutually beneficial opportunities. We can move into a space that’s quite exciting, that’s within scope of our control and that complements the aspirations of Tūwharetoa and all the people who have a relationship with their area of interest,” he says.

Already, councils from other parts of the country have been in touch to organise meetings with Williams and discuss their own opportunities within Section 33 [of the Resource Management Act]. It’s encouraging, he says, to be leading the change towards better partnerships with mutually beneficial outcomes for all New Zealanders.

From: Alice Webb-Liddall, 2020, Finally, a council has transferred responsibilities to iwi for the first time under the RMA, The Spinoff.

Neville Williams, Community Services

Director at the Waikato Regional Council

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Horizons Regional Council

Keedwell says: “The city council is working with Rangitāne to move towards being the first Tiriti-led city. This is co-governance in action and I look forward to seeing how the city grows under this approach. 

“At Horizons Regional Council, we are working hard to incorporate different forms of co-governance or partnership with iwi across an increasing number of areas. My observations to date are that there certainly is nothing to fear. However, it does mean doing things differently.

“There is strong alignment between the Māori worldview and the work of a regional council, whose core business is to manage the environment sustainably. The Western worldview often sees the environment as something to be extracted and used, with little attention paid to the impacts of this approach on long-term sustainability. 

“The co-governance groups that I have been part of to date have changed the focus to seeking a better outcome for the environment and wider community. Yes, this approach can take longer, and at times it is difficult working out what the solution might be, but by taking the time needed, the outcomes are far better for all involved and longer lasting”.

From: Rachel Keedwell, 2023, Co-governance nothing to be scared of, Manawatu Guardian.

Rachel Keedwell, Chair, Horizons Regional Council

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Kotahitanga mō te Taiao


The Kotahitanga mō te Taiao Alliance brings together 16 organisations – eight iwi, six councils, the Department of Conservation, and environmental organisation The Nature Conservancy Aotearoa NZ.


Martin Rodd, Chief Advisor for Strategic Partnership at the Department of Conservation and co-chair of the Alliance, says: “A real strength of co-governance is you get this incredible wealth and diversity of knowledge and when you listen to that, even if it’s just one voice saying ‘hang on, hang on, something’s not right’, you will get a better product.” 

From: Nikki Mandow, 2023, Co-governance - It’s nothing like you think,  Newsroom.

Martin Rodd, co-chair of Kotahitanga mō te Taiao Alliance

Otago Regional Council

"Dialogue is the most helpful thing [for the co-governance relationship]. Establishing and nurturing relationships is so important. A high level of trust in a non-trusting time is essential. Kai Tahu invests heavily in this".

Alexa Forbes has said power structures had not suited those who are not of Pākehā mindsets. We need to shape our democracy to suit our unique situation.

“The NZ democracy is founded in a document – Te Tiriti. That document could be considered undemocratic in some narrow applications of the word but in NZ it is and remains the founding document of our own unique democracy and that’s not going to change anytime soon, nor should it.   


Some say democracy is one man one vote - if you own properties in different regions you essentially have more than one vote in local governments.  So a good NZ specific definition of the term ‘democracy’ is important. In the terms that I understand, based on Te Tiriti, the NZ democracy demands some form of co-governance that offers levels of mana whenua input that may be considered undemocratic in another jurisdiction with a different founding document. In our context, co-governance is a necessary part of our democracy – it would just be easier if we knew or agreed a bit more what that meant and looked like – a full definition of that term might be helpful here too”.

As told to Sue Abel 6 May 2023. 

Alexa Forbes, Councillor, Otago Regional Council

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Newton Central School

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Hannah Andrews totally supports the co-governance model and consensus-decision making at Newton Central School. Rather than having a back-up clause of majority vote, the school is looking at mechanisms where in the case of a deadlock, dissenting members are invited to come up with alternative solutions everyone can agree to. “Yes, our hui are longer,” Andrews says. “But the value of those ... It sends shivers down my spine what we manage to achieve … Democracy is all about voting and I understand that. But consensus means everyone gets there and works together. It’s not about winning.”

She says the vitriol about co-governance is coming from people who don’t know what it means in practice.  “It blows my mind how much co-governance is disliked by people who have never experienced a co-governance organisation.” 


Andrews says widening out the co-governance model into other organisations isn’t just a nice to have; it’s critical.  “We are living in Aotearoa. There have been so many wrongs, this is a way to make it right.”

From: Nikki Mandow, 2023, ‘It sends shivers down my spine what we manage to achieve’, Newsroom.

Hannah Andrews, Co-chair, Newton Central

Hauraki Gulf Forum Governance Review

The Hauraki Gulf/Tīkapa Moana, runs from the Whangaparāoa Peninsula to Te Tara-o-te-ika-a-Māui/the Coromandel Peninsula in the north, and south to include Tikapa Moana-o-Hauraki/the Firth of Thames.
Photo: NASA's Terra satellite, 2002.

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The reviewers said: “The co-governance models established to date have been highly successful in providing a strategic governance approach. The successful adoption and implementation of these co-governance models around the country has been one of the most important developments in integrated resource governance over the last decade, and in our view the Hauraki Gulf Forum would be significantly strengthened by moving to a co-governance model. There are many advantages of a partnership based co-governance approach, including for example:


(a) Enhanced and better informed decision-making, which results from the broader range of knowledge, values, traditions and experiences around the governance table; and 

(b) The mana whenua emphasis on making decisions based on intergenerational timeframes which encourages longer-term governance thinking. 


“Any governance design must fit the specific context to which it will apply. That means that another co-governance model cannot simply be replicated, but that the model must be designed carefully and in detail to reflect the specific circumstances of the Hauraki Gulf and the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park Act 2000. There are, however, a number of successful models in operation that can be drawn upon.”


From: Paul Beverley (Buddle Findlay Lawyers), Vaughan Payne, (Chief Executive, Waikato Regional Council), and Mark Maloney (Head of Internal Audit, Auckland Council) 2016, Hauraki Gulf Forum Governance Review.

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