Motu Note #32

Carbon farming on Māori land: insights on the decision-making process

Note overview

new zealand 583174 lowresCarbon farming on
land: taonga tuku iho.
Decisions explored.

Carbon farming, or the provision of CO2 credits, represents an opportunity for Māori landowners to receive carbon credits from reforestation or afforestation. This study explores the nature of the decision-making processes around choosing to go into carbon farming, strengths and weaknesses of the current agreements, and landowners’ opinions on carbon farming programmes, with an emphasis on the Emission Trading Scheme (ETS). Face-to-face, semi-structured interviews were conducted with a small group of Māori landowners who have been involved in the decision-making process on their land in Tairāwhiti, the East Cape of New Zealand. Their experience can be summarised in terms of two central decisions: switching to forestry and joining the ETS. In their experiences, forestry has provided an economic opportunity to access long-term capital. In contrast, carbon farming is a relatively new experience, so is considered a bonus that could provide revenue in the short term, before income from harvest of timber, or potentially in the long term if areas are allowed to regenerate to native forest if the land block is eligible for joining the ETS. Because the carbon cycle and schemes based on this cycle are new concepts in Te Ao Māori or the Māori worldview, there is a need for well-considered engagement and provision of trustworthy and credible information.


Cortés Acosta, S. 2019. "Carbon farming on Māori land: insights on the decision-making process." Motu Note #31. Motu Economic and Public Policy Research. Wellington, New Zealand.


Ministry for Primary Industries