DOC has a responsibility to ‘give effect to the principles’ of the Treaty of Waitangi (Treaty) in all the work we do.

This includes promoting the interests of iwi/hapū/whānau in regards to local sites and native species and supporting them to contribute to decisions about activities occurring within their tribal boundary. 

Learn more about the importance of consultation, and see the process you need to undertake. 

Principles of the Treaty

The principles we apply in our work are:

  • partnership 
  • active protection 
  • redress and reconciliation
  • informed decision-making.

See the Principles of the Treaty of Waitangi for more information.   

The most important principle where concessions and permits are concerned is informed decision-making.  

Informed decision-making means both DOC and iwi/hapū/whānau are aware of each other’s interests and concerns in any application process. We need to know about any interests that may be affected by an activity, and/or location, proposed in a concession application. 

For iwi/hapū/whānau, full information needs to be provided in order to enable them to contribute to this decision-making process. This is connected closely to the principles of good faith and active protection. Iwi/hapū/whānau consultation on proposed activities is how we can achieve informed decision-making. 


Consultation is required on most applications (but not all, so discuss this at your pre-application meeting). There may be more than one group to talk to, and some groups have very specific consultation requirements that are part of their Treaty settlement, which must be followed.  

Often consultation can enhance the activity you are considering. For example, you may find out which species of bird in the area have special significance to local Māori or inside information about a historic site.  

Effects on cultural interests

The nature and degree of the iwi/hapū/whānau's interest in relation to the land where the activity will be carried out is important. This will include identification of sites of significance (areas that were or are used for growing plants for medicine, a burial site or a battlefield). It could also be identification of local taonga species (birds, plants and animals of cultural significance). 

The group will likely identify potential adverse effects on cultural values and suggest ways to avoid, remedy or mitigate those effects in the same way that you identified adverse effects on conservation values in your application. 

For example, one iwi/hapū/whānau may say that a particular site along a track is tapu because a rangatira (chief) was buried there. They might ask that those travelling along that track are told the story and you respect his last resting place by ensuring your clients don’t wander off the track. 

Another example is that a particular bird species is taonga to them; and if you are a scientist who wants to study that bird you should go and talk to them to understand why they have such a strong connection to that species. They may also be keen to be involved in your work. 

Process for consultation 

  1. Making contact with iwi/hapū/whānau
    Consultation can happen one of two ways, you can do it yourself with support and help from us prior to putting in an application, or we can do it during the application process. If you want to consult prior to making the application your local DOC office can advise you of the best people to contact from each iwi/hapū/whānau in your pre-application meeting. This is recommended as it means your processing time is less likely to be extended, and that you will make links with the local groups who may well be able to support you in your activity. 
  2. Consultation
    Once the correct iwi/hapū/whānau group(s) is contacted they should be given a copy of the application and asked to comment on the activity from their perspective as tangata whenua. They will advise you how the proposal may have an effect on their cultural interests and associations with the location, or species under application. They need to be given time to consider and ask questions and pose possible ways of dealing with effects on their cultural values. Contact us if you have not heard anything from the iwi/hapū/whānau you have contacted after 20 working days.
    Note: Consultation may be an iterative process so there may be some to-ing and fro-ing.
  3. Making your application
    If you have conducted pre application consultation with iwi/hapū/whānau it is important to keep a good record of this. Ensure that this record is attached when submitting your application. This will help us to process your application as quickly as possible. 
  4. Formal consultation
    Once you make your application we may still need to undertake formal consultation to ensure we have given effect to the Principles of the Treaty. This will often be a simple matter of confirming with the group(s) that you have contacted them, and contacting those that you may not have been able to contact. If you have not contacted iwi/hapū/whānau prior to submitting your application the formal consultation process may extend the processing time for your application and we may cost recover (from you) for any time we spend on the consultation work. 
    In general, they have 20 working days to respond to us once we make a formal request. If there are considerable iwi/hapū/whānau values to consider they may request a further 20 working days to respond. If no response is received within the specified period, we will continue to process your application, as we may be able to locate relevant information about their interests from other sources. 
  5. DOC consideration
    Once feedback has been received we will consider cultural interests, conservation interests and your interests, in the context of the rules around the type of concession or permit, in order to make a decision. 
  6. Decision 
    If your application is approved there may be conditions imposed in respect to iwi/hapū/whānau interests, along with other conditions. You must comply with these conditions. 

Contact us 

There may be multiple people or groups affected by your proposal who will all need to be consulted. Your local DOC office can advise you of the best people to contact from each iwi/hapū/whānau in your pre-application meeting.

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