Accepted paper:

Ancestors for sale in New Zealand


Marama Muru-Lanning (University of Auckland)

Paper short abstract:

Exploring Māori experiences and responses to privatising electricity generating assets in New Zealand.

Paper long abstract:

Against the wishes of many Māori and non-Māori New Zealanders the National government partially privatised the country's electricity generating assets. Using kaitiakitanga (a fundamental Māori concept similar to guardianship) as a lens I will examine how contemporary privatisation processes redefine Māori relationships with their lands, resources and ancestral territories. I will discuss what kaitiakitanga means now and explore the moral dilemmas and ethical contradictions that emerge for Māori from the combination of commercial interests that now seem to underpin it. I ask: how are Māori dealing with the sale of electricity companies that draw on natural resources understood as: tūpuna (ancestors), taonga (treasures), atua (super-natural beings) and whānau (family); have Māori become shareholders in electricity assets; and how might being shareholders mediate their duties as kaitiaki? My paper will advance knowledge by revealing the complex range of Māori experiences and responses to privatisation. It will also contribute to international scholarship on the impacts of privatisation on indigenous peoples.

panel P06
Energy citizenships and prospects for low carbon democracy