The Treaty Settlement Process in New Zealand

Posted: 25 May 2003

See all articles by Paula Cody

Paula Cody

Government of New Zealand - Office of Treaty Settlements


This paper describes the New Zealand (NZ) approach to settling indigenous peoples' claims through "interest based" negotiations. It reviews the evolution of treaty negotiations in NZ, provides a case study of the practice of conflict resolution from a practitioner's perspective, and explores the complexities of addressing cultural conflict within political and social contexts.

In 1989 the NZ government set up a policy unit to examine Treaty of Waitangi settlement issues. In 1995 this unit became the Office of Treaty Settlements (OTS). In the 8 years OTS has been in existence, the framework for resolving Maori grievances has developed an "interest based" negotiation brief. That is, both parties at the negotiation table commit to explore their respective interests in good faith, and with the aim of reaching solutions together. Positional bargaining is avoided as much as possible.

"Interest based" negotiations also involve both parties identifying and giving regard to the interests of others (their stakeholders) that may be affected by the settlement. Thus the process of conflict resolution impacts on government agencies, non-government agencies, Maori communities and organisations and the ultimately the NZ public. This process has led to the development of a range of redress instruments unique to New Zealand. For example, the apology and historical account of Maori grievances and Crown culpability mark NZ treaty settlements out as significantly different from settlements around the world.

Keywords: interest based negotiations, New Zealand, treaty settlements

Suggested Citation

Cody, Paula, The Treaty Settlement Process in New Zealand. Available at SSRN:

Paula Cody (Contact Author)

Government of New Zealand - Office of Treaty Settlements ( email )

New Zealand

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