In Te Ao Māori (Māori world view) a taonga is something special, treasured, or sacred. Te Tiriti o Waitangi ensures that Māori are kaitiaki (guardians / caretakers) of their taonga which include the flora and fauna indigenous to Aotearoa New Zealand. We, as tangata Tiriti, have the responsibility to uphold the promises in te Tiriti. In the context of genomic research, this means that we expect ourselves and our collaborators to work in partnership with the appropriate Māori groups (for example the Hapū local to where the plants or animals being studied are from) in whatever ways necessary to honor their rights as kaitiaki.
Like any peoples, Māori can (and do) have a variety of perspectives including in relation to their taonga species and research being done in regards to those species. This is to say that there is no set of comprehensive guidelines in relation to research on taonga species. Each case should be approached with an open mind and willingness to explore the pathways for research and benefit sharing.
Since the founding of The Elshire Group, we have included a clause in our contract reflecting our expectations in regards to working with taonga species. At the time, there was little published to help researchers understand their obligations or provide guidance on how to meet them. Much more information has been published since then. Here we provide some links and documents to assist researchers wishing to work with taonga species. We have been very fortunate to have developed strong relationships with Māori individuals and groups that we can refer you to for further assistance.