Adaptive Governance and Policy

This investment tackles the ways in which governance and policy need to change to better protect te taiao (the environment).

At A Glance:

At the moment, there are many core issues with regional and national governance and policies that fail to protect, and sometimes directly endanger, the wellbeing of our biodiversity and the integrity of our biosecurity system.

The people closest to nature currently find it difficult to get their knowledge and values recognised. They are often not included or resourced to participate in strategic, local or national decisions that would make a difference to biological heritage. This is particularly the case for mana whenua who, as kaitiaki, are often involved with bioheritage protection and advocacy for the environment.

The Adaptive Governance & Policy team aims to ‘break the mould’ and build new systems, policies and capability that will provide much greater protection to our bioheritage. This includes embracing Treaty relationships with Māori and investigating the many opportunities for the environment that can arise when government engages in co-design of policy and co-governance of natural resources. The team will study what does and doesn’t work in Aotearoa when it comes to redistributing authority, decision-making abilities and responsibility.


Dr Maria Bargh

Te Arawa (Ngāti Kea/Ngāti Tuarā), Ngāti Awa

Victoria University of Wellington

Dr Carwyn Jones

Ngāti Kahungunu

Te Wānanga o Raukawa

Research Areas:

  1. Understanding different governance models that support good environmental outcomes.
  2. Tools to inform environmentally sustainable businesses.
  3. Tools to better co-design and partner with Māori.


How to talk about co-governance of our bioheritage. A short guide for communicators and advocates of environmental management and policy.

For a Tika Transition: strengthen rangatiratanga

He Puapua – Lands, Territories and Resources Briefing

Wai 262 – Briefing on natural resource governance and policy recommendations

Hall D & Lindsay S 2021. Scaling Climate Finance: Biodiversity Instruments. Concept Paper. Auckland: Mōhio Research

New Directions for Resource Management in New Zealand

Briefing to the Incoming Ministers for the Environment & Conservation

Biodiversity Instruments Briefing Note

Skip to 9.31 minutes to hear Dr Carwyn Jones’ introduction and lecture on building social cohesion.

Click the image to listen to Maria Bargh discuss co-governance with Māni Dunlop.

Deputy Vice Chancellor Māori at Victoria University of Wellington Rāwinia Higgins opens the speaking at the launch in Wellington.
Melanie Mark Shadbolt, Kaihautū Ngātahi for the Bioheritage National Science Challenge discusses the importance of changing governance and funding systems at the launch in Wellington.
Co-Author of Concept Paper ‘Biodiversity Instruments’ David Hall speaks at the launch in Wellington.


For a Tika Transition: strengthen rangatiratanga. Maria Bargh and Ellen Tapsell 2021.


February 2023

Climate change? Recession? Pollution? There’s a Treaty solution for that. Stuff.

June 2022

Striving for recognition of Te Tiriti o Waitangi motivates Dr Carwyn Jones. Sciblogs.

September 2021

‘Future Visions For Te Taiao film competition explores ideas on environmental protection. Radio New Zealand.

April 2021

Opinion: Without the right financial strategies, NZ’s climate change efforts will remain unfinished business. Newshub.

Related Research

back to top