Community-Based Conservation and Cross-Cultural Relationships
Conservation is a well-established concept which exists in diverse forms based on diverse meanings and environmental values. The role which communities play in local resource management addresses many challenges in regards to top-down state management over natural resources. Communities’ ability to act as environmental agents is contingent on how willing nation-states are to devolve power and decision-making to communities. Co-management relationships between community and state is one means of devolving power and increasing community agency. Where Indigenous communities are involved, co-management is a way of shifting power, knowledge and resources away from Western centred norms towards Indigenous worldviews and institutions. In Aotearoa New Zealand, co-management emerges across conservation efforts, from state managed levels to locally managed levels. Community-based conservation is one type of local co-management. This research aims to analyse the different experiences and perspectives of community volunteers at the Manawa Karioi Ecological Restoration project in Island Bay, Wellington. The Manawa Karioi Ecological Restoration project is first and foremost a collaborative relationship between the volunteers of the Manawa Karioi Society and the whānau (family) of the Tapu Te Ranga marae. The land on which conservation occurs belongs to the Tapu Te Ranga marae, and therefore the longstanding relationship that the two groups have with one another goes a long way to explaining the effectiveness of restoration at Manawa Karioi. This research focuses on interviews from twelve different participants, both from the Tapu Te Ranga marae and the Manawa Karioi Society. Through the conceptual lens of poststructuralism and political ecology, the key themes of this research will bring to light how the relationship between the Tapu Te Ranga marae and the Manawa Karioi Society enables process towards decolonisation of community-based conservation, wider societal understandings of nature and sense of place in nature. This research will explore the relationship between Manawa Karioi and the Tapu Te Ranga marae, with an aim to provoke further thought for other community organisations who wish to engage with, or already have a form of relationship with, Iwi, hapu or whānau. In doing so this research can be offered as a frame of reference for such organisations.