The Māori Carbon Foundation announced the appointment of Donna Awatere Huata as New Zealand's first Māori Climate Commissioner at a hui in Kaitaia on Monday.

Her job will be to provide independent Māori-focused research and advice that will contribute to Aotearoa meeting its obligations under the 2015 Paris Agreement, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.

Hone Harawira addressing a Maori Carbon Foundation hui in Kaitaia. Photo / Peter Jackson.
Hone Harawira addressing a Maori Carbon Foundation hui in Kaitaia. Photo / Peter Jackson.

MCF board chairman Sir Mark Solomon said the Commissioner would provide research and advice based on a Māori world view, and would be available to Māori, to politicians, government agencies, media, other New Zealanders and the global community.

She would facilitate opportunities for Māori to learn about climate change and programmes to help Māori play their part in Aotearoa's campaign to clean up the world, and would also be available to engage with all other stakeholders in Aotearoa.


The position was independent of the Māori Carbon Foundation, the Crown and other private/public agencies.

Sir Mark said he was proud to announce that Ms Awatere Huata (Ngāti Whakaue, Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Hine, Ngāpuhi) would be the inaugural Māori Climate Commissioner.

"Donna is a long-time advocate for the Treaty of Waitangi, a campaigner against racism and a former Member of Parliament. She was also an early advocate for the circular economy, representing New Zealand at the Sustainable Business Conference in the Netherlands in the early 2000s," he said.

She represented the NZ Māori Council, Māori Women's Welfare League, NUMA, FOMA, and Te Whānau o Waipareira Trust on the appointments boards for Te Ōhu Kaimoana and the Crown Forestry Rental Trust, and also represented the NZ Māori Council on the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous People 2014-2017.

MCF board member Hone Harawira told Monday's hui at Te Ahu (which was followed later in the day by another in Kaikohe) that the board would fund the commissioner's office, and would be inviting various partners to support it.

Ms Awatere Huata said the role would include representing the interests of land owners.

"There is so much land that is not bringing wealth to our communities," she said, "and we have to change that."