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Engineers and society

Edition 2.7

Dirk Pons
PhD, Master of [Business] Leadership, Master of Science (Medicine), BScEng (Mech),
Chartered Member Engineering NZ, Chartered Professional Engineer (CPEng: EngNZ),
International Professional Engineer

Cover image: Ships at Waitangi. Image: Dirk Pons.

© Copyright D Pons 2018.

The author acknowledges with gratitude the feedback provided on early drafts by colleages
in the profession and at the University of Canterbury.

This material extends the discussion from the bicultural heritage to society in
general. It also describes methods that engineers may use when working with
culturally sensitivities.

The groups under examination here are ethnic groups (which require engineers
to have cultural competencies), and societal stakeholders (for which
consultation and communication are important).

Learning outcomes
Engineers are expected to understand the societal and cultural issues that
arise, and have methods for finding solutions. However this is complex
because of the conflicting requirements from the multiple stakeholders with
their different cultural needs.

Failure can have significant consequences such as excessive conflict,

termination of the project, or reputational damage. Such problems cannot be
solved with principles of engineering science.

Instead engineers solve these problems by applying the following knowledge

and skills:
(a) being knowledgeable about culture and the history that lead to the present,
(b) understanding and applying the concept of worldviews,
(c) analysing the situation from the cultural perspective, and
(d) knowing the principles about consulting stakeholders.

The material has been specifically written from an engineering perspective. It is

intended to be relevant to engineers involved in product design,
manufacturing, construction, and any project that has a footprint in the natural


Preface ................................................................................3
Purpose ...................................................................................................... 3
Learning outcomes..................................................................................... 3
Contents .................................................................................................... 4

1 Ethical requirements .....................................................8

Ethical duty ................................................................................................ 9
How engineers approach this ................................................................... 10

2 Worldviews ................................................................. 13
.1 Belief-systems and Worldviews ............................................. 13
Examples of worldviews ........................................................................... 16
Groups: Tribes and Organisations ............................................................ 16
.2 What is Culture? .................................................................... 18
Culture requires a group .......................................................................... 18
Culture includes concepts of the physical world ...................................... 20
Culture provides values and attitudes ...................................................... 21
Culture requires symbols ......................................................................... 23
Culture is transmitted by leaders ............................................................. 26
Culture has ethical components ............................................................... 27
Culture has multiple effects ..................................................................... 27
.3 Conflict in society .................................................................. 29
Stakeholders ............................................................................................ 29
Types of conflict ....................................................................................... 30
Conflict ..................................................................................................... 31
National Value-systems ............................................................................ 31
Mixed motives ......................................................................................... 32

3 Te Waka wind farm - case study .................................. 34

Background .............................................................................................. 34
Outcome .................................................................................................. 35
Complex decision ..................................................................................... 36
Analysis .................................................................................................... 40
Unison consults ........................................................................................ 40

What if Te Waka was approached differently? ............................. 45
Stakeholders for Unison ........................................................................... 45
Why are these people stakeholders? ....................................................... 46
Moving forward ....................................................................................... 46

4 Lego Bionicles –case study ........................................... 48

5 Indigenous property rights .......................................... 51

.1 Indigenous intellectual property rights .................................. 51
.2 Wai 262 claim ........................................................................ 52

6 Heritage causeway in Dunedin –case study ................. 54

7 Heritage and Archaeology ........................................... 61

Social Dilemmas ........................................................................... 61

8 Engineers’ interaction with ethnic groups .................... 64

Interaction with a group .......................................................................... 64
.1 Allowing others into the decision ........................................... 65
Degree of participation ............................................................................ 65
Participative decision-making scale:......................................................... 65
Ethical vs unethical corporate responses ................................................. 66
ORGANISATION DEFINITIONS ................................................................... 67
.2 Engineers’ interactions with tangata whenua ......................... 68
A Preparation....................................................................................... 70
B Initial engagement ............................................................................ 71
C Consultation ..................................................................................... 73
D Co-determination ............................................................................. 73

9 Māori worldviews: Types of activities likely to be

opposed by mana whenua iwi in New Zealand .................. 75
.1 Kaupapa - principles .............................................................. 75
.2 Misappropriation of cultural heritage .................................... 76
.3 Disrespect ............................................................................. 78
.4 Former territory .................................................................... 78
.5 Probity .................................................................................. 79

10 Including cultural values in engineering decision-making
.1 Three Pillars .......................................................................... 80
.2 Worldviews towards making profits from the natural
environment ................................................................................ 81
.3 Landscape evaluation factors used by the NZ Environment
Court ........................................................................................... 82
.4 Mauri – life force within ecosystems ...................................... 83
What is mauri? ......................................................................................... 83
Decision-making framework .................................................................... 84

11 Cultural impact assessment ........................................ 86

.1 Factors to be considered ........................................................ 86
.2 Choice of weights .................................................................. 87
.3 Indicators .............................................................................. 87
.4 Scoring .................................................................................. 88
.5 Application of the method ..................................................... 88
.6 Template for the Bridge cultural impact assessment method . 89
.7 Exercise: Mini-hydroelectric power ........................................ 91

12 Communication plan .................................................. 93

.1 Applications .......................................................................... 94
.2 Contents of a Communication plan ........................................ 94
.3 Exercise: Lego stakeholders ................................................... 96

13 Human factors ............................................................ 99

14 Scenarios .................................................................. 100

Tidal barrage .......................................................................................... 100
Aquaculture ........................................................................................... 101
Mining the sea-bed ................................................................................ 103
Napier Port expansion............................................................................ 106
Gods of tomorrow? ................................................................................ 108
Bottled water ......................................................................................... 109

15 Closing comment ...................................................... 110

1 Ethical requirements
The creation or use of technological solutions can be inconsistent with the
things that society values. Engineering products and facilities are intended to
add value to their owners, but not at the expense of society. Neither the
fabrication nor the use of those engineering artefacts should compromise the
well-being of society.

The societal issues arise in the following situations.

 Archaeological and historical heritage considerations especially during
civil construction. The issues are destruction of history.
 Cultural preferences for the use of natural resources. Typical examples
are placement of wind turbines, where the issues can be aesthetic
(unattractive visual landscape), sites of cultural significance, and public
amenity (use of the landscape for recreation and relaxation).
 Disrespect towards cultural values.
 Making money out of the special cultural or geographic features of one
group. Examples are the Lego Toy Wars (see below) or product of
NOT ALL TECHNOLOGY SOLUTIONS ARE GOOD: This Banksy street-art painting
comments on technology and culture: the mindless use of technology to solve
problems, and the harm that such solutions can bring to the culture of society.
Banksy is an anonymous UK graffiti artist who uses dark humour to draw
attention to social and political issues. Image: David, Bergin, Emmett and Elliott license Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

Ethical duty
Engineers are expected to ‘treat people with respect and courtesy’ (EngNZ
Code of ethical conduct). Engineers trained under the Washington or other
Accords are expected to have an understanding of the societal and cultural
issues relevant to engineering practice in their country, see Table 1. In New
Zealand Aotearoa that includes, via the Waitangi Treaty, and understanding of
the mana whenua (indigenous peoples) rights

The Engineer Demonstrate understanding of the societal, health,

9. and Society safety, legal and cultural issues and the consequent
responsibilities relevant to engineering practice.
Table 1: Graduate competencies required for Engineers as per the Washington
Accord[1](p 40-41).

How engineers approach this

FUNCTIONAL, ELEGANT: The Te Rewarewa Bridge (New Plymouth, New

Zealand) crosses the Waiwhakaiho River to reach an old Māori fortified village,
battle site, and graveyard. The form integrates the cultural relationship
between land, sea, and wind. The design seeks to embody the wind, thereby
respecting the dead. It is oriented to Mount Taranaki, evoking the eternal. The
construction of the bridge was challenging due to the design constraints and
the need to minimise the land and river damage during construction. The
bridge has become a tourist attraction in its own right. Its shows that
engineering that is done in a culturally elegant manner can have particular
value. Image Tracey Pons. For further details about the background and engineering challenges see

Engineers solve these problems with several methods.

(1) The first is to develop understanding of the concept of stakeholders. Next is

to understand the characteristics of culture for national, organisational, and
ethnic groups. There are many attributes that engineers appreciate, which are
invariably valued across all cultures, such as problem-solving, collaboration,
competence, curiosity, environmental sustainability, safety of people. These
can be a good common starting point.

(2) Another part of the solution is to give a degree of participation in decision-

making to stakeholders. Most commonly this is consultation with affected
groups. Consultation is soliciting feedback from stakeholders, but retaining the
right to make the final decision. From a systems engineering perspective this is
part of the requirements analysis. Specific methods exist, such quality function
deployment in the situation of new product design.

(3) Effective communication with stakeholders may be achieved by

systematically considering the needs of the various groups.

Ugly engineering. A beautiful sunset at New Plymouth is spoiled by an ugly
smoke stack that dominates the natural rock stacks. This is an example of ugly
engineering design. Image D Pons.

Not to be confused with: Social engineering

Social engineering is the term used by computer security specialists (white-
hats) to test the strength of an organisation’s computer network.

2 Worldviews
Different groups in society have different cultures. These groups may be at the
level of nations, ethnic groups, organisations, religions, etc. Most of what
follows is true of both ethnic groups and organisations.

.1 Belief-systems and Worldviews

Belief systems are the mental constructs that individuals and groups create to
make sense of themselves and their spiritual place in the world. They provide
an existential postulate. They are based on faith –not necessarily religious –
and therefore are not subject to physical mechanics. Together with other
constructs -such as philosophical, natural scientific evidence, emotional,
ethical- they make up a world view. World view is a concept in philosophy.

A worldview is the totality of a person’s

perspective on the world and the values they
seek to embody in their own life.
The world view is coherent to the person who holds it – its makes sense to
them. It is also strongly held, in that people will not easily change their view.
Individuals within a culture share elements of the same world view.

No amount of information will change a worldview. They are deep seated

beliefs linked to personal identity. Conflict can arise between people with
different world views. The conflict is about the values.

ANCIENT CULTURE: Cave painting of European bison (Bison priscus). Painted
about 15,000 years ago in the Cave of Altamira (Cantabria, Spain). The
paintings and drawings were discovered by amateur archaeologist de Sautuola,
who correctly attributed them to an ancient ethnic group. However French
scientists made the mistake of denying that prehistoric people had the
intelligence or culture to make such fine paintings, and sought to discredit de
Sautuola. The hostile scientists eventually had to apologise publically. It goes to
show that one cannot assume that technologically primitive groups have no
culture or no indigenous innovation. Image: Original artist anonymous, photograph by
Rameessos,, Public Domain

Colliding worldviews: African San people were the original people inhabiting
southern Africa. They were hunter-gatherers, but squeezed out of their land by
Bantu people migrating down from central Africa, and later European settlers
moving northward from the Cape of Africa. The San were hunted like vermin
and the survivors forced into the deserts. It is rare to find examples like this
where San depicted European people. In this case the clothing of the women is
indicative of that era. Note also the relative sizes and morphology – the San
are a small people. This petroglyph, from the Kimberley region of South Africa,
appears to show a San firing an arrow at settlers – or wishing destruction on
them. Image Joshua Pons, used by permission.

Examples of worldviews
Scientific rationalists
Scientists have a worldview based on quantitative scientific rationalism. They
believe that quantitative information is superior to qualitative (numbers
count), that cause and effect are rational (no superstition), that abstract truth
is universally applicable. However they may fail to recognise they hold such a

When dealing with other people, they argue on the basis of facts. They assume
that presenting more facts –or better quality facts- will provide evidence that
compels others to change their mind. They assume a deficit model of
communication – that the antagonist is deficient in facts and needs more
information. When communicating with other scientists in their field, this
communication strategy works. However it tends to fail when interacting with
non-scientists because of the different worldviews. Scientists need to do more
to frame the subject according to the things that are appreciated in the
recipient’s worldview.

Free market economists

Economists have a worldview that values things in terms of financial utility.
Any variable that cannot be quantified in financial units this way is then unable
to be included in the calculus. In their worldview the market is rational – that
an item for sale will be accurately valued by the market, that the market makes
dispassionate (rational) decisions, that the market aggregates all available
information (efficient). Free market capitalists have a worldview that natural
resources are there to be converted into higher value products (and that the
market is rational). It is not surprising that they object to findings from climate
science that would curtail their activities. It i not a deficit of information, but
rather a conflict of worldviews.

Groups: Tribes and Organisations

Organisations have a purpose, a reason for their existence. This applies to
commercial organisations and to tribal/societal organisations, though the
purpose is usually presented differently.

For commercial organisations, the purpose is to offer a product or
service, and to make a profit. For non-profit organisations the latter
requirement is changed to ‘not make a loss on operations’.

For societal and tribal organisations the purpose is to provide benefits to

group members. For example, the professional engineering organisation
in each country.

The group could be as large as the whole of society, or be narrowly focussed

on one special-interest group (or tribe). The organisational purpose is
represented in a charter or similar founding document. In the case of tribal
type organisations it is more helpful to understand their purpose as a type of
belief system.

WORTH: Perception Belief system,

of what is valuable organisational
purpose, reason for
existence of the
STAKEHOLDERS: The organisation. (May
organisation not be explicitly
purpose arises
represents a group of articulated)
other people (6)

Organisational self-
beliefs, epic history,
founding stories (e.g.
organisation has the
see Lego), myths
right, even the
(tribes everywhere)
obligation, to act in
this situation by
reasons of charter,
legal establishment,
or stewardship, etc.
ORGANISATIONAL PURPOSE. The organisation puts its efforts (agency) into
achieving what its owners (or stakeholders) deem valuable, and this results in a
type of belief system that pervades the whole organisation. Some of this is
explicitly stated in the ‘purpose’ or ‘mission’ statement, but other components
are in the legends the organisation nurtures about itself, and some parts are in
the tacit organisational culture.

In all cases the organisational purpose is determined by the perceptions of the

initial owners, where ‘owners’ could refer to commercial or societal founders.
The factors affecting organisational purpose are therefore:

1. WORTH: Perception of what is valuable. This may be profit or benefits to
2. STAKEHOLDERS: The organisation represents a group of other people,
usually a sub-set of the population. For a commercial organisation the
stakeholders include the shareholders, staff, customers, etc.
3. AGENCY: The organisation has the right, even the obligation, to act by
reasons of charter, legal establishment, or stewardship, etc.

Organisations invariable also have very powerful self-beliefs which may include
epic history, founding stories (e.g. see Lego), myths (tribes everywhere). This
applies to commercial organisations just as much as to societal ones. This
sustains their sense of agency. It also sustains their ORGANISATIONAL CULTURE,
which makes it very difficult to change these organisations, but that is another

.2 What is Culture?
Culture refers to the underlying assumptions that shape the responses of a
group of people. Culture is a complex phenomenon, and there are rich
perspective on the topic in social sciences (anthropology, sociology,
psychology) and business (organisational behaviour, organisational culture).

Culture requires a group

Typical groups are:
 Local communities
 Ethnic groups
 Churches and Religious groups
 Charities
 Business groups
 Organisations
 Nations
All these groups have culture, the content of which includes:
 Knowledge of an area: geographic, technological, philosophical,
theological, ecological, economic, commercial, operational.
 Value constructs: things and processes that they deem important to
their success. Usually they have specific terms and words for things that
are important to them.
 Methods of problem solving used in this group: pragmatic, practical,
exploratory, decisive, tolerance for ambiguity.

 Decision making methods: this includes the process of decisions, the
people who have the power to make them, tolerance for risk.

WE THE PEOPLE: Cave of the Hands (Cueva de las Manos) in Argentina, dating
from 13,000 to 9,000 years ago. People express their culture through symbols.
These images were made by blowing paint from the mouth over the person’s
hand as a stencil. They are an expression of identity or membership. Image:
License CC BY-SA 3.0

Culture includes concepts of the physical world
A group has a concept of the physical world around them. This can be
particularly important for local communities and ethnic groups that have lived
in the land a long time. Factors include:

 Interpretation of rocks, mountains, rivers and other landscape features.

 Interpretation of natural ecosystems and the coherence thereof. Since
ethnic groups historically lack scientific explanations, these
interpretations of cause and effect are often mythological, religious or
refer to a life force (mauri).
 Concepts of time and the measurement thereof.
 Attitudes to possessions and sharing thereof.

For ethic groups there is usually an association with the land, and hence
features in the natural world, e.g. specific mountains, become symbols for the

In the Māori situation this is evident in the mihi (introductory speech) that an
individual makes when introducing themself at a hui (meeting). It states where
the person is from, by identifying landscapes. This typically includes their local
mountain and river (or body of water), and their tribal whakapapa (genealogy).
There is a strong sense in this culture of the identity of the people being linked
to both the landscape and the genealogy – these are inseparable in this world

There are often differences in how topology is viewed from different cultures.
In some cases topological features like rivers and mountains are treated as
boundaries, especially from the perspective of land ownership. In contrast
other cultures may perceive these features holistically, e.g. the river and the
land on either side are one unit.

For example the Pelorus Sound Te Hoiere (South Island of New Zealand) and
associated river and valleys are considered an integrated system for Ngāti Toa.

Meaning assigned to
Interpretation of physical objects and
rocks, fauna, flora, resources
water, food
Constructs of causality
Concepts of the
Concepts of time (the way things work,
physical world personal agency)
Attitudes to
Group has knowledge of
an area (geographic,

Culture provides values and attitudes

A group has beliefs (things they think are true), principles (moral rules that
underpin action, behaviour, reasoning, or decision-making), values (priorities
of worth, outcomes/behaviours that are valued).

For example, for the Ngāi Tahu iwi tribe of the South Island of New Zealand,
the values of the Kā Rūnaka group are [2]:
 Whakapapa: geneology and ancestral connection to the land, sea, fauna
and flora.
 Mauri: life force that pervades all objects, especially ecosystems.
 Ki uta ki tai: From the mountains to the sea – the interconnectedness of
the environment.
 Rakatirataka (or rangatiratanga): the ability to exercise authority over
own natural resources, which was provided by the Treaty of Waitangi.
 Kaitiakitanga: stewardship of the natural environment.
As this list shows, the values of the iwi are focussed on the natural
environment. However this is not conservation as in the idea of parks that are
allowed to be entirely natural, where the public come to visit. Instead it is
about using and harvesting resources to the benefit of the tribe, in a
sustainable manner.

Consequently they have intrinsic and implicit ways of conveying how they
would like events to unfold around them.

These values are expressed in their attitudes. They are evident in the ways that
decisions are made (who has the power?), methods of problem solving used in
this group, and specific terms and words for things that are important.

Two of the main differentiating factors for international cultures are Power
distance (degree to which superiors may be challenged openly), and
Individualism-collectivism [3].

Value constructs
(what things and
Beliefs processes are
Value and
Ways that decisions
Principles, attitude
are made, where
values, morals systems of the the power lies
Religious beliefs,
Methods of
problem solving
used in this group

Specific terms and

words for things
that are important

Value constructs contribute to the world view of the group.

Two worlds. People who depend entirely on the local land for survival, e.g.
hunter-gatherer societies, develop a respect for their prey and an appreciation
for the life thereof. This image by African San – the oldest race in the world-
appears to show a gemsbok exuding n/om potency from its neck: the animal
was both a source of meat and of power to these people. In these cultures
there is not a dichotomy between the physical and spiritual world – the two
exist at once. The rock surface is the veil between the two. Drawings on that
boundary layer are projections from the one to the other. Image Joshua Pons.

Culture requires symbols

All groups have symbols of some sort. They have specific behaviours that
members expect of each other. For example ethnic groups have specific
greetings, business groups have expectations about visual impression
management (clothes, offices, cars), religious groups have an order of service.

Most groups also have heroes or mighty founders, and create legends around
those figures. This is typical of ethnic groups, religions, political parties, social
philosophies, and commercial organisations. There is sometimes a tendency to
think that only indigenous people have legends about mighty heroes, but even
highly urbanised people have their heroes: wealthy people in commerce,
military leaders, inventors, sports people, etc. Movie and music stars are
another example, and have elaborate publicity myths around themselves.

Unique identity: This painting of Tāmati Waka Nene shows the moko or facial
tattoo. This was important in establishing personal authority. Nene was an
influential rangatira (chief) in the era of the Treaty and was instrumental in
obtaining peace at the end of the Flagstaff Wars. Painting by Gottfried Lindauer 1890 Public domain,_by_Gottfried_Lindauer.jpg

Symbols are also apparent in flags, corporate logos, apparel/uniform. These

are accepted as fact, and create identity for group members. So symbols
cannot be considered only applicable to ethic groups. If anything, corporations
are bigger users of symbols.

FOUNDER FIGURE: Many groups have
iconic founders, and create legends and
myths around these people. This is not
limited to ethnic groups: Businesses are
particularly prone to do this. Image by vxla,
License; Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

Specific behaviors
and practices
(greeting, meals..)

Heroes, Founders

Creation or origin Symbols provide

stories for the group, an Explicit
Symbols arise
including struggles to grounding in the
overcome, legends,
for the group world for the
myths group

Specific artifacts
(objects, buildings)

Specific places of
(locations, rivers,
mountains, trees,
SYMBOLIC REPRESENTATION. Symbols, of various origins, are used to provide
meaning for all groups. This applies even to those who would otherwise not
consider themselves to part of a culture.

Culture is transmitted by leaders
The group is perpetuated by a learning process. Senior generations take
responsibility to accumulate and convey the culture to the next generation.
This is part of leadership (shaping the behaviours of others), and is very
different to management (executing operational actions).

The management literature is not a good source for defining leadership. This
because it tends to elevate ‘leadership’ to a glorious ideal of a decisive
corporate executive, but this is arguable merely executive management. To
some extent chief executive officers (CEOs) want to see themselves as
providing something special –to warrant the often outrageous salaries they
earn – and they have created a fiction that it is leadership. However from a
psychology perspective leadership is about changing the behaviours of others,
and this is something that can be done at any level in an organization. Too
many CEOs add no leadership in terms of permanently changing the
organizational culture or the behavior of many individuals – all they change is
the behavior of their subordinates which they achieve via the ephemeral
mechanism of performance incentives. Middle managers, practice area
leaders, and team-leaders can be more effective at changing the behavior of
others –hence display leadership.

In non-business organisations such as ethnic groups, churches, religious

organisations, and political parties, the leadership is provided by people who
are trusted and esteemed (rather than merely appointed like a CEO), and the
effect of this leadership can be profound. People’s lives are turned around,
whether for good or evil, by these leaders.

The cultural learning process occurs primarily through the performance of

rituals , articulation of traditions, and imitation. It results in changes to the
mind: individual members develop a way of thinking about the things that are
important. As with all things concerning the mind, these constructs may be
partly subconscious, and hence difficult to articulate. Members may not even
be aware that they have developed that mindset/worldview. Individuals may
become over-aligned with the group values hence groupthink, grey-suites,
activists. In extreme cases this is at the expense of their membership of
humanity hence resulting in radicalization, terrorism, repressive regimes.

Culture has ethical components
Some groups, and this particularly applies to professional bodies, articulate
their culture in codes of ethics. See the engineering code of ethics.
Likewise most public service organisations (schools, universities, hospitals,
government departments) have policy documents that describe the principles
and processes of decision-making. These policies are open to the public to
inspect. Individuals may then complain about their treatment. A common
complaint is based on the organisation not following its own policy, i.e. a
procedural failure. Thus organisations that set policies must ensure that staff
are following those policies, otherwise the risk of complaint is increased. The
more numerous the policies the harder this becomes. Organisations with very
many policies and set processes are said to be bureaucratic. Commercial
organisations (firms) also have policies, but these tend to be fewer and are
seldom published outside the organisation. Firms leave more actions
unspecified, hence giving themselves flexibility in their responses.

All groups have tacit norms and expectations, and these are an important part
of culture. For organisations they set expectations of how workers treat each
other (e.g. swearing), how productive/lazy people will be (loafing), whether or
not corruption is acceptable (bribes, embezzlement, tender fraud), whether
staff can use organisational resources for personal use (cars, credit card
expenses), how managers will treat staff, etc. New staff are socialised into this
culture by vicarious learning (by observing the consequences for others’
behaviour). The culture of the group becomes perpetuated, and persists even
though the people all change over the years.

Consequently organisational culture is an important factor in ethics. The

persistence of national and organisational culture is one reason, perhaps the
primary one, that keeps countries trapped in corruption (and hence poverty).

Culture has multiple effects

The following diagram summarises and integrates the above.

Meaning assigned to
Interpretation of physical objects and
rocks, fauna, flora, resources
water, food
Constructs of causality
Concepts of the
Concepts of time (the way things work,
physical world personal agency)
Attitudes to
Group has knowledge of
an area (geographic,
Specific behaviors
and practices
(greeting, meals..)

Heroes, Founders

Creation or origin Symbols provide

stories for the group, an Explicit
Symbols arise
including struggles to grounding in the
overcome, legends,
for the group world for the Senior generations
myths group take responsibility
to accumulate and
Specific artifacts convey culture to
(objects, buildings) next generation

Formation of the
Specific places of
mind, way of
thinking (may be
(locations, rivers, Learned subconscious)
mountains, trees, behaviour of
beaches) Group has the group
knowledge of an Codes of
Part is re-interpreted or values emphasised, creating legend area (geographic, behaviour,
technological, norms, policies,
Ritual, expectations,
philosophical, traditions
theological) ethics
Value constructs
(what things and
processes are Power distance
important?) (degree to which
Value and superiors may be
Ways that decisions challenged openly)
Principles, attitude
are made, where
values, morals systems of the the power lies
group Individualism-
Religious beliefs, collectivism
Methods of
problem solving Cultural
used in this group differences
Need/desire to Use
Common property Interaction Positive or
Specific terms and
(new group wants between this negative
words for things
to operate in a way group and outcomes to the
that are important
that affects the another venture
Cultural group)
Learn cultural
in decision-
Apply Cultural making (e.g.
relativism: other Consultation)
cultures are
merely different,
rather than

CULTURE HAS COMPLEX CAUSALITY: Interactions per text above.

.3 Conflict in society
Cultural issues can be a conflict over decision-making. Conflict can then be
political, i.e. the two parties seeking to control the outcome, and to influence
future decision-making.
Power is the ability to have
others change their
behaviour to what you want

Not all power is

assigned by
position. Much is Politics is the
wrought by conflict obtaining of power
from others

CULTURAL RELATIVISM: The same situation, James Cook arriving in Australia
in 1770, was viewed differently by the two groups. Image: Andrew Garran (1886), ‘Australia: the
first hundred years’,, public domain.

Types of conflict
The psychology perspective is that conflict may be over the task, relationship,
or values. In order of increasing severity these are:
1. Task. Includes disagreement about the process or solution path. When
the processes are routine (little variability possible) then the conflict
tends to have negative effects, whereas conflict over non-routine (high
uncertainty) tasks can have positive effects [4].
2. Relationship. Dislike of another person. The conflict is over personality
styles, i.e. personal styles of behaviour. Includes contested authority
(who should control the decision). Usually negative. In these situations
avoidance of the other person is often used as a solution.
3. Value (beliefs). Different underlying principles, purpose, organisational
mission, vision, religious beliefs. The conflict is over the world view –
especially the morals and ethics of the situation. These are expressed in
strongly-held beliefs. Examples are homeland, racial, and origin-of-life
beliefs. This type of conflict can cause break-away organisations and
deep conflict. It may be difficult to reconcile opponents.

Question: Contrast and identify the causes and solutions of relationship, value,
and task conflict. Provide an engineering related example for each.


Externally evidenced behaviours of project organisation and

societal stakeholders

Motivation to do Motivation to
the right thing in obtain self-
the situation benefits

Less noble
Underlying beliefs and Organisational purpose (6)
motivations (8)


Perception of organisation organisation has the for more Desire for self-
what is valuable represents a group of right, even the personal gain at expense of
other people obligation, to act in resources others
this situation by
reasons of charter,
legal establishment,
or stewardship, etc.

CONFLICT PYRAMID. Conflict at the intersection of an engineering project with

society is usually caused –in the first instance- by mismatches in the underlying
organisational purposes, made worse by inadequate identification of
stakeholders, an adverse proposition of value for societal stakeholders, poor
communication of technological intent (too late, overly defined), or not
allowing important stakeholders to participate enough in the decision-making

National Value-systems
Different cultures have different value-systems. In the wind turbine example
there was a ‘sacred mountain’ involved. How do you quantify ‘sacred’ in an
engineering optimisation problem? You can’t: if it is important in your country
then the earlier you discuss it with affected people, i.e. consultation, the

better. In the wind turbine example, it was alleged that ‘Unison was poor at
consultation and appeared to have approached iwi as an afterthought.’

The point is not the right or wrongs of the Sacred mountain etc., but the fact
that the world has changed. Two and half thousand years ago a young Greek
called Alexander could mow down multiple ethnic groups and seize their land
all the way to India, and no-one now asks the Greeks for compensation. Nor
do the Greeks demand that we English speakers refrain from using Greek
words in our language and business transactions.

We have greater scientific knowledge than ever before – but greater inclusion
of non-scientific principles into decision-making. It’s one of those new
dimensions that makes the engineering task more complex. The solution is to
consult early; accommodate it in your engineering design and project
planning; and be aware of the need to show corporate social responsibility
and self-restraint in the pursuit of economic wealth. That may means sharing
some of the profits with affected people.

Two and half thousand years ago a young Greek called Alexander could mow
down multiple ethnic groups and seize their land all the way to India, and no-
one now asks the Greeks for compensation.

The first thing is to be aware that cultural expectations affect engineering

activities. The second is to see the underlying principle: that if your
organisation is going to be making money from someone else’s natural
resources or cultural heritage, then it has a responsibility to obtain their
approval and share the rewards. There is an element of social responsibility
and equity involved.

Mixed motives
The organisational purpose results in the motivation to do the right thing in the
specific situation under consideration. This applies to both commercial and
societal organisations. For example in the wind-farm case, the energy company
is motivated, for all the right reasons, to supply a product (electricity) at a fair
price and from environmentally renewable sources wherever possible. They
also have the commitment to invest capital into new projects, hence the wind-
farm, which is noble of them. (Lack of willing capital investors is a major
impediment to many under-developed countries, and keeps them in poverty).

Likewise the Iwi (tribal organisation) is motivated by all the right reasons:
desire to preserve the things of cultural value to its members.

Organisations also have less noble motives mixed in. Generally these are based
on the usual human vices of greed and selfishness, or the desire to dominate
the wills of others. For example, commercial organisations very readily fall to
the temptation to maximise profits at any cost, and will hurt others to achieve
this. On the other hand tribal organisations can fall into a culture of
entitlement. Likewise organisations that do a lot of protesting, like unions, can
fall into a vicious cycle of wilfully obstructive behaviour that kills the
organisation’s ability to pay good salaries – a case in point being the USA
automotive unions of the 1990-2010 era.
Belief system,
Mission (how the
purpose, reason for Motivation to do
purpose will be
existence of the the right thing
worked out in the
organisation. (May (7) situation under
not be explicitly

Motivation to
Less noble
obtain self-
motivations (8) benefits


for more Desire for self-gain
personal at expense of
resources others

It is tempting, in the anger of a conflict situation, for each party to perceive the
other as being motivated purely by the less noble motives. However this is
usually not the case. It is better to first assume that the others are motivated
to do the right thing, and that the conflict is primarily over different opinions of
what is the ‘right thing’ to do in the situation. Only if that assumption proves
unfounded should one assume nefarious motives, and once that assumption is
made then the conflict is generally not solvable.

3 Te Waka wind farm - case
This case study shows how bicultural which societal considerations are equally
important as the commercial prospects.

It is critically important to include cultural values early in the feasibility and
design stages of large infrastructural projects, such as wind turbines. The
cultural considerations are at least as important as the economic and technical
aspects of the project, and cannot be left as an afterthought. The following
case study explores a NZ situation.

Te Waka. This is the northern end of the range. The mountain is a relatively
flat table top. It is about 30km inland from Napier. Image D Pons.

At stake was a proposal to erect wind turbines on a prominent range of hills

called Te Waka. The electricity generation company Unison had a partnership
with an Australian firm to create this wind farm, and applied for resource

Permission was denied, based on the cultural significance of the site to Māori:
‘An application to build a wind farm near Napier has been declined for the second time by
the Environment Court because the site is spiritually significant to Māori. … "We're not
opposed to wind farms, ... But not on this site. This is our sacred mountain’, [said the Iwi]
(Dominion Post)

The outcome was disappointing to the electricity company:

‘Unison chief executive Ken Sutherland said the decision sent a "seriously disconcerting
signal" to companies trying to undertake environmentally friendly energy production. … "It is
a missed opportunity to provide electricity for the equivalent of 50,000 homes and is a cost
to the community. This means that $800 million worth of clean, readily accessible energy will
be wasted." (Dominion Post)

It is important for engineers to understand these contrasting perspectives.

Wind over the mountains. The mountain ranges of New Zealand have higher
winds and make good locations for wind turbines. However there can be
equally important cultural value associated with the mountains. Image D Pons of Hurunui
River and Southern Alps.

Complex decision
The decision was complex because of the need to balance the competing
priorities of various stakeholders. The electricity company desires to invest in
sustainable energy generation. The company also needed to keep its
customers (electricity users) satisfied, make a financial return on its capital
investments, and return a profit to its owners.

It is relevant to note that the District Plan of the local council specifically
identified that using rural land for wind farms was, in principle, an acceptable
use of land:
‘A wind farm would be an efficient means of producing electricity, particularly in a location in
close proximity to consumers and the national grid. In addition, a wind farm would add to
the diversity of uses in the rural area, making use of the wind, a natural resource, without
significantly impacting on more traditional forms of production from rural land. A small area
would be taken up by turbines, roading and Service buildings, with the remainder of the land
used as before. Also there will not be any long-term adverse effect, with soil and the land
able to be re-instated for other future rural uses if in the future the technology or economics
meant the wind farms were no longer required.’ [5]

The Court was also mindful of the need for New Zealand to invest in
sustainable energy generation:
‘That the proposal is relevant to New Zealand's international obligations to the global
environment in terms of the Kyoto protocol. That such relevance includes the proposal's
contribution towards the achievement of the target of 90% of electricity generation to be
from renewable energy sources by 2025 as set out in the New Zealand Energy Strategy to
2050.’ [5]

Te Waka. This is the range viewed from inland looking back towards Napier.
Image D Pons.

The contrasting perspective was the cultural one, which included the
aesthetics of the landscape, and the rights per the Treaty of Waitangi (see
below) of the historical Māori people of that region. These cultural concerns
are legitimate issues. The Court found aesthetic value in the shape of the
‘Aesthetics are a matter of perception, and we find that the clean lines of the range and its
central place in views of the skyline from Hawkes Bay result in the range having high
aesthetic values.’ [5]

The range also has special cultural value to the local Māori people, the tangata
‘Plainly this landscape has very special significance for the tangata whenua interests. We
later deal more fully with that issue in relation to section 6(e), s.7(a) and S.8 of the Act, but
consider it appropriate to advance some comment here. Local hapu, Ngati Hineuru and
Marangatuketaua (Ngati Tu), regard Te Waka as their maunga and much tribal lore
attaches to it. Most significant is the identification of Te Waka with the waka of Maui, which

became stranded on top of the great fish, the North Island, which he had pulled up from the
ocean. There is also the story of Pari o Mateawha, referred to in the evidence of Mr Frederick
Reti, a Ratana minister of Ngati Hineuru lineage. Pari o Mateawha is about 600 metres from
the nearest turbine on the proposed wind farm site.’ (116) [5]

The Court heard evidence from Mr Reti, who explained the background of
‘This korero concerns our ancestors, Tauira and his wife Mateawha. One day Tauira came
across Mateawha, and was immediately taken with the sight of her and they became
husband and wife. Mateawha was one of the Tūrehu people. She was not human. The
Tūrehu people abided by certain rules. They were nocturnal and did not prepare or eat
cooked food, nor did they clean up tūtae (faeces). One day they had visitors, and sadly Tauira
forgot himself. He told his wife to clean up after their baby who had become soiled (usually
they had servants to do this work - as custom required that Tauira did not carry out this
Work). Tauira also told his wife to cook their food. As his wife, she obeyed her husband.
However, the effect of this work was to whakanoa te tapu i runga i a ia (to nullify the
sacredness of Mateawha).The implication was that Mateawha was unable to return to her
own Tūrehu people. She became alienated from them. She became so distraught at the
situation, that she took her own life by throwing herself off the cliff face. She hit the side of
the rock and fell down into what is known today as Hell's Hole. The stain of her blood was
left on the rock face. Since that time, whenever that stain congeals, our people recognise it
has an aituā - a bad omen. It usually means one of two things. An omen foretelling the death
of a direct descendant, or that a disaster is about to befall the district. At these times, not
only does the cliff face become tapu, the whole of the maunga is tapu. Further the blood
stain on the cliff face is viewed by we, her descendants, as the bloodline link of the Tūrehu
world to us. In certain sunlight conditions the rock appears particularly red.’ [5]

The matter of kaitiakitanga (environmental stewardship) was not a major issue

in this case, because the electricity company had proposed a comprehensive
set of treatments to minimise environmental impact. However these
treatments did not address the cultural aspects.

The Court was of the opinion that, ‘because of the very high value that the
tangata whenua interests attach to Te Waka range, it rates highly for
community held values’ [5]. A difficult part of the decision, which the Court
had to consider carefully, was whether the Māori sentiment really did affect
the whole mountain range or merely a part of it, and whether the activity
would affect ‘the mana and wellbeing of the tangata whenua claiming to be
affected’ [5].
‘In the present instance we consider that the evidence adduced on behalf of the tangata
whenua interests was credible and sincere, although we do have some reservation about Te
Waka range as a whole being viewed as waahi tapu, as distinct from it being of profound
significance as a cultural and spiritual landmark, steeped in ancient mythology and
traditional beliefs. … The tangata whenua interests claim that the consented wind farms to

the north are such as to make reasonable allowance for renewable energy and associated
benefits, and that their values and concerns should be afforded due recognition as regards
Te Waka range before countenancing an additional wind farm as proposed.’ [5]

Taking a holistic view, the Court concluded that ‘the Māori dimension is such
that Unison's application, however merited in technical terms, must yield to
the force of the case presented for the tangata whenua interests’ [5].

Wind turbines are exciting pieces of technology to engineers. However they

are also exciting, in a negative way, to many other people because of their
visual impact, particularly their artificiality in the natural landscape. Many
people do not want huge machines in the wild countryside, especially if that
land has cultural or emotional value to them. Image Nordex N117 im Windpark Hohenahr,_Hohenahr_7.JPG This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0
Unported license, no change to image.

The issues that an engineering practitioner has to deal with are therefore the
intersection between the technical merits of a wind farm – which needs to be
in a location exposed to wind and hence exposed and on the skyline – and the
cultural value that society puts on that same location.
‘In the case of wind farm proposals such as this, a good site' for a wind farm technically
speaking may well run into difficulty, inasmuch as the prominence and elevation of the
chosen site for the erection of turbines may conflict with long-held Māori values attaching to
the area in question.’ [5]

Engineering is defined as finding solutions to complex problems. Part of the

complexity is that those technical solutions and artefacts are deployed into the
natural environment and into society. The best way to approach these issues is
not to proportion blame, nor to automatically doubt the intentions of the
other party, but to identify that people have different belief systems which are
real to them.

Belief systems are those sets of beliefs by which people make sense of the
world, and which provide the principles that guide their decisions and actions.
They are personal perceptions, and not necessarily rational – at least not from
every alternative perspective. Nonetheless the perception is the reality for the

Consider the following questions. There are no right or wrong answers.

o What is the main point being made by each group?
o Why are they doing this? What motivates them?
o What is the cultural value in this case? What is the cultural value for the
Ngati Hineuru Māori?
o What is the belief system for the electricity company? What is the purpose
for which the company exists, i.e. their mission statement?
o How could each party do things differently?

Could there have been a different outcome? To understand that, we first have
to consider how we involve other people in decision-making.

Unison consults
Consultation is soliciting feedback from stakeholders, but retaining the right to
make the final decision. Consultation is common and accepted practice in
these types of situations. You can see this expressed in the Unison prospectus:

‘Your involvement : Unison Networks Limited is committed to a
comprehensive public consultation program, providing key stakeholders
and interested groups with suitable information on the project and its
effects and has sought the views and comments about the project from
local residents and the wider community.’

So Unison consulted, presumably heard the Māori reluctance about the

project, presumably did what they could to accommodate those concerns and
decided to proceed to seek approval from the Council. However it would seem
that they perceived the Māori perspective could be accommodated by
consultation, whereas the depth of Māori association with the landscape may
have warranted a codetermination approach.
Intended pace
Expected POWER DISTANCE (degree to
of change
CHANGE which others have the
Organisations (INCREMENTAL,
RESISTANCE by right to challenge one’s
appreciate their staff RADICAL,
antagonists decisions)
having tenacity to combinations)
overcome adversity PARTICIPATIVE DECISION-
MAKING (PDM) sacle:
and achieve goals. Offer to 1. COERCION
Perception of participate in 2. DIRECTIVE
importance and decision-making to 3. CONSULTATIVE
urgency. some extent. 4. CODETERMINATION
Define opportunity Misrepresented
for participation in participation:
decision -making (9) actual opportunity
is less than

Personal Misunderstood
leadership participation:
antagonists expect
more involvement
than is realistic

Project organisations tends to limit stakeholder involvement to Consultation.

Sometimes this is simply because they have the power to do this. More often it
is simply because they are excessively output oriented and do not want to be
delayed with numerous apparently petty individual opinions of affected

Feasibility Planning
analysis and design

Advance the
Action locus
project to a
arises in project
detailed stage of
organisation (2)
development (3)

Project organisations
appreciate detailed
planning and
Design is advanced to
Advance the a greater level of
PROSPECT: Focus on
Action locus specificity.
Situation achieving project to a
arises in project Preliminary decisions
under end goals detailed stage of made by project
consideration organisation (2) quickly development (3) organisation.
Ambiguity is reduced.
completed. Greater specificity
Mission (how the Decision made suggests that decisions
organisations’ to proceed to have already been made,
purpose will be next stage. i.e. Directive decision-
worked out in the making has occurred.
situation under
examination Organisations
appreciate their staff
having tenacity to
overcome adversity
and achieve goals.
Perception of
importance and

TOO MUCH OF A GOOD THING. Too much planning by project organisations

may create the impression that Consultation is not genuine.

Action locus
A typical problem in the consultation process is that the project organisation,
e.g. the wind-farm developer, has a strong focus on achieving end goals
quickly. They appreciate their staff, e.g. their engineers, having tenacity to
overcome adversity, solve complex technical problems, and achieve goals. The

organisational culture creates sense of importance and urgency. These project
organisations appreciate detailed planning and conscientiousness.

However this also causes problems for other affected parties, e.g. stakeholder
groups in society. The issues are as follows.

While the project organisation may have been considering this prospect for a
long time, the idea might be very new to affected parties who may be
surprised by it.

Closed decisions
The high level of completion of planning suggests that decisions have already
been made, i.e. Directive decision-making has occurred > This causes the
stakeholders to doubt the genuineness of the consultation process >
Stakeholders then mistrust the motives of the project organisation, and
attribute then with having covert less-noble motives. > In extreme cases,
resistance to an evil organisation seems a logical necessity, and this motivates
stakeholders to acts of resistance. > In the cases where the organisation is a
government agency, self-sacrifices by protesters, or brutal treatment by the
organisation, polarises other members of society and motivates more people
to make a stand.

Meaningful consultation
It is better to consult stakeholders early, while the ideas are still fluid, rather
than present them with a detailed plan wherein there is little opportunity left
for them to participate meaningfully in designing the future system.

Abruptness: While the
project organisation may
have been considering this
prospect for a long time, the
idea might be very new to
affected parties who may be
surprised by it

PROSPECT: Situation Acceptance, Conditional

under consideration acceptance, Rejection of the

Design is advanced to Negotiation and

a greater level of compromise
specificity. Response of
Preliminary decisions affected parties Outrage, conflict, protest
made by project (4)
Ambiguity is reduced. Political behaviours
(lobbying for a favourable
change in regulations,
seeking to increase own
Greater specificity
power-base, seeking to
suggests that decisions
weaken antagonist’s
have already been made, agency)
i.e. Directive decision-
making has occurred.

WAYS TO OBJECT. Disaffected stakeholders have several ways to obstruct the


Case study: Was another outcome possible?

So we return to the question: Could there have been a different outcome?
Possibly, though it is difficult to say, and we don’t know all the details. If
another solution was possible, it would need to have branched off the action
locus before going to formal approval.

This is because there is not much point trying to fight things that are genuinely
sacred (tapu) with engineering facts, in the environment court. In New
Zealand, as with many other countries, the culturally important factors are
appreciated. Better to find a different way, before taking it to a judge. What
could those other ways have been? Here are some suggestions.

Try Codetermination instead

Given the presumably genuine and significant tapu associations, the mana
whenua might have been given a larger participation in the decision-making
from the outset. In other words, instead of merely consulting them, lift their
involvement. Find parts of the decision that are amenable to codetermination,

e.g. specific locations that are acceptable/unacceptable. Do this early in the
project locus, not late.

Reassess the societal proposition of value

The existing partnership did not include local people: the profits would be split
between Unison and an Australian company.

‘The Titiokura/Te Waka wind farm is a 50:50 joint venture project between
unison networks limited and roaring 40s renewable energy Pty Ltd.’

Look at the proposition of value from the perspective of local protagonists,

whether Māori or not. Would you blame them if their thinking went along the
lines, ‘OK, so you are going to put wind turbines on top of our hill that we like
so much, and then you and this other foreign firm will split the profits. So you
benefit at our expense. And you just want us to roll over?’ At an emotional
level, that is not a proposition of value.

This is merely a thought-exercise, and no-one is saying that was how the
protagonists thought. But once it’s put that way, it makes it easier to see how
to find a possible solution. Possible ideas: offer the community a minor share
in the profits, or offer to build a new facility [town hall, library] for the
community, or to put new computer technology into their classrooms, or free
electricity to the schools in the district, etc. If the community is losing
something [the beautiful view of their hill and the emotional associations with
their ancestors] then offer the community something else that they might
value. An important, but subtle point in the above ideas is that the benefit
goes to the community, not to powerful individuals or even special-interest
groups. Giving something to the community is generally ethical, whereas
focussed spending on an individual is often unethical.

What if Te Waka was approached

Stakeholders for Unison
In the case of Unison [the electricity company above] as the initiator of the
project, has to decide who it will involve in the decision-making: these are
called stakeholders. Even if Unison own the land, there are still stakeholders.

Note that the owners of the company are not listed as stakeholders: instead
they have a purely financial priority, as shareholders.

Unison identified their stakeholders as follow. You should ask yourself ‘Why
are these people stakeholders?’
• Local Iwi
• Local Communities
• Forest and Bird
• Hastings District Council
• Hawke’s Bay Regional Council
• Napier City Council
• Civil Aviation Authority
• Hawke’s Bay Airport Authority
• Transit New Zealand
• Telecom
• Immediate Neighbours
• Port of Napier
• Department of Conservation
• Chamber of Commerce
• Federated Farmers
• Local Farming Community
• Hawke’s Bay Agriculturalists, Wineries and Horticulturalists
Source: /site_resources/library/OUR%20COMMUNITY/Titiokura_Te_Waka_Wind_Farm_aug_08.pdf

Why are these people stakeholders?

To answer that, ask yourself the following questions. What stake
[involvement] do they have in the project? How could the project affect
them? Is there anyone else who is not listed, who could be significantly
affected by the proposed project?

Moving forward
Now imagine you are on the Board of Directors of Unison, and the Te Waka
Wind Farm problem is being discussed. What response should the Board
make? This is a fabricated thought-experiment and does not purport to
represent the protagonists or the actual facts.

Board of Directors,
Te Waka Wind Farm

1 Welcome
2 Confirmation of minutes and matters arising
3 Strategic responses to Environmental Court Ruling
4 Action planning
5 General Business

Now work out some candidate responses, ethical and not, to this problem.
Which of these are ETHICAL?

As it turns out, the Board decides to put the Te Waka venture on hold, and
instead focus on another site.

What about these hills instead? Private landowner is open to a deal. Māori
issues may arise again, but the issue of sacredness is unlikely. Prime trout
fishing area. Image D Pons

KEY QUESTION TO ASK IN ANY SITUATION: Where does the complexity

Learning from the past, how would you approach this new but similar

(1) We will break the venture into stages or sub-projects.
(2) We will invite stakeholders to codetermine (see PDM above) some of the
early projects like the location. Detailed engineering design will of course be

4 Lego Bionicles –case study

Lego created a story line on a Pacific island theme, using figurines based on the
new Technic mechanical system of ball-and-socket joints. These figurines had
an organo-mechanical look, and the series was named biological chronicles
hence Bionicle. They placed the story in a generic Pacific island, based on a
classic good-vs.-evil plot.

BIONICLES: Whenua, Kopaka, and Nuju set out to explore the world of Mata
Nui. The small figures were tribal elders or tohunga and the larger was a
fighting hero or toa. The words and storyline were based on a Pacific island
theme. Lego produced a range of figurines each with their own personality,
attributes, and story line. However there was objection to the appropriation of
Māori culture for commercial gain. Image D Pons.

As part of the context they named the characters with Pacific language words.
Māori people, who also use these words, were upset, especially with the use of
sensitive words of tohunga and makuta.
‘International toymaker Lego has agreed to stop making a multimillion-dollar range
of toys after protests about its appropriation of Māori names. Lego senior executive
Brian Soerensen has just returned to Denmark after meeting Māori lawyers and
claimants in Auckland and acknowledging that Lego had used Māori words in the
Bionicle range of toys. … Lego has now offered to work with the claimants in drafting
a code of conduct for toy manufacturers wanting to use traditional knowledge in
their products, the Dominion newspaper reported. And they may work together to
produce a range of "authorised" toy products, based on Māori designs and
knowledge. Solomon had complained about the use of more than 10 Māori words to
name the Bionicle toys. They included spiritual people called Tohunga, face masks
called Kanohi (Māori for face), a stone warrior called Pohatu (stone) and a tunnelling
character called Whenua. "Lego have independently made a decision to withdraw
from the market any future production of Bionicle toys based on Māori knowledge,
or indigenous knowledge from any other culture, out of respect for the issues that
we've raised with them," Solomon said.’
Lego did not intend to offend. This is a positive outcome in that the company
realised that using indigenous knowledge for commercial purposes is
inappropriate. This development was called the ‘toy wars’, and attracted
international attention. Not everyone agreed with the outcome:
‘LEGO's venture really is playful, and so is the shrewd Māori effort to turn Bionicle
into a propaganda victory for the "rights of indigenous peoples." The Danish
toymakers and the Māori activists are about equal in their clever reshuffling of the
past to create fictions for the present. LEGO probably thought to draw on the
numerous positive associations the West has with aboriginal Polynesian cultures. It
clearly did not intend to evoke any of the grimmer views of Polynesian life that are
also part of the historical record, such as Marquesan cannibalism or, for that matter,
Māori headhunting. For their part, the Māori activists must have adopted a certain
creative obtuseness to think that Bionicle really "infringed" Māori rights to their
"language and culture." What the Māori really aimed for, they achieved: publicity for
their 1993 Mataatua Declaration claiming broad legal protection for "the intellectual
and cultural property rights of indigenous peoples. … To be the self-declared victim
of a mild-mannered toy company may seem a small thing when your ancestors
trounced British armies and fought colonial militias to a standstill, but times change.
I look forward to the day when the descendants of Pashtun warlords too are griping
about intellectual-property rights.” (by Peter Wood, Associate Provost, Boston
University, in National Review).

As this shows the concept of intellectual property extends to cultural property.

Lego’s solution was first to respect the indigenous rights, second to help
create a charter to guide the toy industry, and thirdly to divert the story away
from the Pacific island theme. They introduced a new element to the story-
line: the introduction of a ‘Naming Day’ holiday in the plot to rename some of
the characters and get away from the old names. They also dropped most
association with Pacific island life, and moved instead to city life (Metro Nui).
Some common Pacifica words were retained.

There was an escalation of powers on both the good and bad sides, so the
characters eventually got ridiculously over-powered. Then the story wandered
off into bizarre plot twists about robots the size of universes. This complicated
back story then made it difficult for new customers to understand the plot,
and caused sales to decline. The story was briefly rebooted in 2015-2016.

This case study may arouse a variety of feelings in the reader, and is a useful
opportunity to assess own world views and the debate about the
commercialisation of indigenous knowledge:
 Is language the property of the world or of communities?
 Should companies be able to use any words from other cultures? Does
it make a difference if a word has a special meaning in the culture?
 Should communities have the right to restrict the use of their language
by others? Does it make a difference if the use is for commercial

In the Lego case the Māori lawyer did not exclude the possibility that
companies might use Māori words, but only with respect and after
consultation. Indeed Lego continued to use a variety of Māori words in its
Bionicle story, but not those that were disrespectful of Māori values.

The importance of language as an element of culture can be difficult for English

speakers to understand. English is such a universal language that its speakers
have become accustomed to others speaking the language differently, and
using the words in new ways. If others mangle the language, the English people
are not personally offended – they may correct the grammar or simply ignore
it, but they never feel it as disrespect to the English culture. However for
indigenous people their language is the mechanism whereby they construct
their world view. Consequently when others misuse the language, the cultural
group can feel that their world view is disrespected.
‘Ko te reo te mauri o te mana Māori. The language is the core of our Māori culture
and mana.’ Sir James Henare [6]

5 Indigenous property rights
Cultural world views can also affect product design, as this case study of Lego
shows. The issue here is misappropriation of cultural heritage, in this case

ANY STRANGE POWERS HERE? There are many plant products that could have
undiscovered health or healing benefits. This unusual fruit and seed is
Myristica fragrans. Both the nut and the aril are used as spices and commonly
used in baking. Image Alexander Daniel
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license, image unaltered.

.1 Indigenous intellectual property

Intellectual property (IP) has historically been defined around product
functionality and production processes (patents), visual and written works
(copyright), and logos (trademarks). In recent years IP protection has been
extended to cover new areas of technology such as chemical substances, plant
varieties, organisms, geographical unique foods (geographical
indications/appellations) music and software (digital rights). All of this is driven
by the profit motive – the desire to be able to have a monopoly in the market.
More than any other country, the United States of America has evidenced the

ruthlessness of this capitalistic perspective. Offset against that has been China
as the great flouter of IP protection – also motivated by greed. Everyone is
trying to find competitive advantage and a commercial fortune from their IP,
wherever they obtained it from.

For example, pharmaceutical companies are search for potential new drugs in
plants in many biomes. They are exploring the traditional medicine body of
knowledge to see if it can give clues for what might work. If they find a
successful drug, they will patent it, and monopolise the market. But that drug
is likely to come from another country, and from the knowledge of an
indigenous person, but they will not benefit from the success. Is that fair?
Apple is allowed to patent the idea of a cell phone shape as a rectangle with
rounded corners, and sue Samsung for billions for also using radii. Is the idea of
a rounded corner really so much more important than indigenous knowledge
that one but not the other is deserving of legal protection?

.2 Wai 262 claim

A move towards legal protection of traditional Māori knowledge of fauna and
flora was started by the Wai 262 claim to the Waitangi Tribunal in 1991 [6].

The World Intellectual Property Organisation and the United Nations are
starting to create stronger legal protections for indigenous intellectual
property. These protections are currently still weak.

The United Nations agreed a ‘Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples’

(2007) (declaration here or link to Wikipedia summary). This includes a useful
statement of what might be included in the intellectual property:

‘Article 31: Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain, control, protect and develop their
cultural heritage, traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions, as well as the
manifestations of their sciences, technologies and cultures, including human and genetic
resources, seeds, medicines, knowledge of the properties of fauna and flora, oral traditions,
literatures, designs, sports and traditional games and visual and performing arts. They also
have the right to maintain, control, protect and develop their intellectual property over such
cultural heritage, traditional knowledge, and traditional cultural expressions.’

However the implementation is slow, as the declaration is aspirational rather

than mandatory and each nation has to give individual effect to it in law. New
Zealand is a signatory.

The World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) implementation has been
weak. They use the term Traditional knowledge (TK) but admit there is no
accepted definition thereof. This is where the problem occurs, because there is
no special protection for TK: it has to try for protection under the usual patent
categories. Also, oral knowledge is not protected at all. Even using the TK can
be a form of disclosure.

While the intent of the UN is clear, the WIPO fails to provide any new
mechanisms for protecting indigenous knowledge. What is really needed is a
new method to register this knowledge, separate from the patent system. On
the other hand, it might not be reasonable to take existing widely-known
knowledge and retrospectively assert private ownership by an individual or

For now the best strategy is either to keep the knowledge secret or shame
companies that exploit it (activism). There is a third, less intuitive strategy,
which is to publish the knowledge. This works because it puts the knowledge
into the public domain (prior art), so that other people cannot patent it
themselves. This makes it open access, so that everyone can profit from it if
they set up a business, but no-one can prevent others from doing so too.

The following WIPO report makes interesting, if convoluted reading: ‘Intergovernmental Committee on
Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore’ accessed 1/4/2016.

6 Heritage causeway in
Dunedin –case study
The ‘Lessons from the Past’ case study illustrates how an archaeological find, a
wooden causeway, affected a construction project [7]. The following material
is reproduced under the assumption of fair use since the original source
material is no longer available in electronic format as formerly.

Project development
The project was the construction of the Dunedin City Council’s Wall Street
‘Recent construction in the vicinity had uncovered small archaeological finds, and it was
known that George Street was sited on what had previously been a busy part of Dunedin’s
original settlement. The authority [New Zealand Historic Places Trust] required the presence
of an on-site archaeologist – at the project’s expense – while excavation was underway.’

During excavation for the foundations the builders discovered a wooded

causeway from the 1840’s. Early Dunedin was extremely muddy in places, so
settlers had cut thin trees –mostly manuka- and laid them down to form a
rough roadsurface. Later development of the town resulted in these boggy
areas being filled with clay, and this created anoxic conditions which preserved
the timber.

Old but hale: A timber bridge in the Hurunui river valley. Old structures
connect us to the past and the difficulties faced by earlier people. They anchor
our modern heritage and provide us with a narrative of our history. Image D Pons.

This discovery immediately stopped construction work on the site.

‘For Mr McKenzie [construction manager] and the construction crew, the find was, to be
frank, a major headache. The archaeological authority stated any major finds had to be
“preserved in situ”, so with only six months construction remaining on the three-storey
mall, a way to protect, preserve and display the 12-metre causeway had to be found.’ ‘After
numerous meetings, it was left to the design team to find a way to make the causeway part
of the mall complex without disrupting its operations. This was a complicated task, as the
causeway had to remain in the small stream and boggy area, which the designers originally
planned to concrete over to prevent the mall flooding. And, as luck would have it, the
causeway was also located in the same position as one of the mall’s proposed support struts.

Wooden causeway in Dunedin. This is at Swampy Peak. Photo Ariel Pons.

The original plan was to preserve the whole structure in situ.

‘Once natural water sources were diverted around the box and prevented from entering the
mall, a water atomising system could be installed to gently spray chemicals and moisture
into the space and keep the wood from rotting. Adequate ventilation would also be needed
to prevent mould from forming and a water recycling system would prevent the chemicals
and water from leaching into the ground. Once preserved, the causeway could be lit

appropriately using low-heat LED lights and covered in thick armour glass so it could once
again be “walked” on by mall patrons.’

Dunedin on a summer night. Image D Pons.

However this proved not to be practicable as the wood was already too rotten
and an independent specialist recommended instead that the wood be
recovered where possible and preserved off site.
‘The causeway was uplifted and moved to a darkened store room, where the wood was
placed in large tubs and immersed in water pending treatment with a solution of
polyethylene glycol. If added correctly, the chemical slowly replaces all the water in the cells
of the wood – effectively petrifying it permanently. The process is lengthy and can take
anywhere from three months to five years to complete, depending on the size, diameter and
type of wood.’ ‘The pieces of wood that were too far gone for preservation have been
reburied underneath the building, where they originally lay.’

Heritage street at Timaru Port. Image D Pons. Also the only form of photo shop I permit on my photographs.

Lessons learned
The construction manager Mr McKenzie had the following comments to say
“There are several key things I would do differently next time,” he says. “First and foremost,
be very clear about the wording in the initial archaeology authority. Of course you should
apply for one, especially if you are pretty sure, as we were, that something will be found. But
it does lay obligations on you, and if the wording is unclear, it can lead to problems further
down the track.”
For example, he says he would clarify future wording in the document around preserving
works in situ. “You could have a case where the conservation work costs more than the
building, or that preserving it in place prevents the building going ahead,” he says. “I also

think it needs to be stated clearly who is in charge of any decisions about the methods used
to preserve a find.”
Mr McKenzie says any project that finds archaeological evidence should immediately bring
in an independent conservator to advise on its preservation, and to determine if
preservation is even possible. He also recommends that the archaeology authority contain
timelines. For example, he says that once the causeway was discovered the mall project
still had deadlines to meet, but those making the preservation decisions did not.
“Unfortunately the statutes aren’t very clear about what happens when you have a
disagreement – you’re under pressure to finish the work but [the archaeologists] are under
no pressure.”

Implications for the project

‘In total, the preservation effort delayed development by seven weeks and added $310,000
plus ongoing maintenance costs to the mall’s $32 million price tag, but Mr McKenzie believes
the causeway will be an attractive addition to the mall once it is complete.’ He admits that
he has been asked on more than one occasion whether the trouble caused by the
causeway made him wish he had simply covered it up, even at the risk of a $150,000 court
fine. “The answer is I would conserve it – our heritage is worth the trouble.”

Further information
For a deeper understanding of the principles, legal requirements, and due
process in the New Zealand context, see the Historic Places Trust [8].

Discussion and review questions

1. Identify the ethical issues. What were the temptations and various
options when this find was first made?
2. What were the project management consequences for time and cost
and building functionality in this situation? Identify the extra tasks that
would go into the work breakdown structure (WBS).
3. What would have happened if the developer had just abandoned the
project, and sold the property to someone else for another purpose
instead? See

Heritage spaces connect to us as humans. This in Timaru. Image DPons.

7 Heritage and Archaeology
Social Dilemmas
These types of projects often raise emotive issues on both sides.

One perspective is that archaeological finds are part of our past and worth
preserving, even at significant cost. The general principle is that the
organisation that owns the project pays the costs.

The competing perspective is that some artefacts were discarded items even
in their time and therefore not worth preserving now, further that the cost
outweighs the benefits.

On the other hand, nations have a psychological need to have artefacts to

represent themselves and their culture, and will fabricate structures to
achieve this. This is an ancient feeling:
‘Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a
name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth’ (Genesis 11:4,

It also lives on in modern forms, such as the entirely fabricated Merlion of

CONTRIVED CULTURAL ARTEFACT: The Merlion is a marketing logo designed

by Alec Fraser-Brunner in 1964 for the Singapore Tourism Board (STB).
Singapore’s growth as a city obliterated much of its archaeological past, so
fabricated artefacts like this provide a substitute for national identity. Image Karl
Baron (CC BY 2.0).

So one could argue that instead of having to artificially create symbols around
which cultural identity can be built, it is more appropriate and genuine to
preserve real historical artefacts. However this can be costly, and funding is
often limited. Hence this is a complex problem.

Worth fixing? The Christchurch Cathedral was damaged by earthquake. Half a
decade later the arguments still fly as to whether to repair or replace it.
Restoration, which would be much the more expensive option, was favoured
by civic groups. Their grounds were heritage and tourism. However they did
not have the funds for the repairs, neither were they the primary users
(worshippers) of the building. The Church favoured demolition and
replacement, on the grounds of affordability and relevance to its congregation.
Image by Grey Geezer, 2015, (CC BY-SA 4.0)

8 Engineers’ interaction with
ethnic groups
Interaction with a group
Groups interact with each other in many ways. Typically there is a national
need or a commercial desire to use Common property, such as land. The one
group wants to operate in a way that affects the other group. Some typical
situations for engineers:
a. An engineering organisation has been tasked with building a wind farm
on rural land. An ethnic group owns the land, and there is also a small
local community (village) that will be affected.
b. A mining firm wants to develop an open-cast gold mine in an area of
wilderness. The other affected groups are the local landowners, the
nearest town, indigenous people (even if they do not own the land),
government, environmental groups, hiking groups.
c. An engineering organisation produces a novel product (or service) for
the local market. It now wants to expand its operations to another
country where the national culture is very different. What are the issues
they can expect?
Stakeholders are different groups. They have different competing beliefs and
value systems, and this adds complexity to the engineering problem.

In the specific case of (a) above, where an ethnic group is involved, then the
general mechanism for finding a solution is to apply the principle of Cultural
relativism: assume that other cultures are merely different, rather than
inferior/superior. In these situations it is typical for the ethnic group to have
beliefs that are incongruent with a scientific rationalist position. A common
example is spiritual beliefs about specific features in the landscape. There is
nothing wrong with this- it is merely part of the world view. The professional
engineer simply accepts both perspectives as valid, without passing judgement
on the superiority of one world view over the other, and seeks in the first
instance to find a solution that is consistent with both. The basic need is to
have AWARENESS of the issues (knowledge) coupled with ability to
COMMUNICATE with others (skill). These can be learned.

.1 Allowing others into the decision
Degree of participation
Where a technology project affects ethnic groups, the usual approach is to
allow a degree of participation in decision-making (PDM). This is usually
Consultation. Authoritarian governments instead merely force ethnic groups to
comply (Directive), and this is also how domineering international firms
sometimes operate in unregulated countries. The most liberal form of PDM is
Co-determination, where the project does not proceed unless all stakeholders
are content. Obviously this means that some projects do not go ahead, or take
many years to reach the point of agreement. People need time to work
through issues. A group may be open to change its beliefs but this is not a
quick process since the same mechanisms that preserve the group culture also
create resistance to change.

The next question in any such project is to decide what level of participation in
decision-making (PDM) to give to the stakeholders. There are several levels
available, see below. Generally stakeholders only have to be ‘consulted’,
except if they have statutory rights. It is possible to have different types of
participation with the various stakeholders.

Participative decision-making scale:

There is a scale of participative decision-making (PDM) ranging from directive
to co-determination:
1. COERCION: The organisation forces stakeholders to comply (coercion).
May require lobbying at governmental level, or unethical politics.
2. DIRECTIVE: The organisation communicates its decision to stakeholders
(directive communication).
3. CONSULTATIVE: The organisation consults Stakeholders about change,
i.e. solicits feedback, but retains the right to make the final decision
4. CODETERMINATION: The organisation invites stakeholders to participate
equally in the solution-finding and decision-making (‘codetermination’,
or ‘partnering’, or ‘co-opt’). Bribery is unethical.
5. EMPOWERMENT: The organisation gifts stakeholders with the skills and
resources to make their own solution (‘social uplift’).

Most organisations –private and governmental – want to meet their
organisational purpose and perceive dissent from stakeholders as a restriction
on accomplishing that objective. They would prefer to be unhindered. They can
get away with this in countries where government has failed (‘wild west’,
Nigeria, Afganistan), in an oliogarchy where a small number of people control
the government and commerce for corrupt and selfish purposes (states in the
United States, Russia, individual cities & regions in China), in countries with
corruption and debasement of the law at local levels (e.g. Bangladesh).

For democratic countries there is a necessity for organisations to consult

before they implement their plans. Consultation is soliciting feedback from
stakeholders, but retaining the right to make the final decision.

However when ethnic groups are involved, and in those few cases where they
have legal power (as the Treaty of Waitangi provides in New Zealand), then
consultation is not enough. (This is the first mistake Unison made regarding Te
Waka wind farm – they only offered to consult). Instead it is necessary to
involve codetermination.

Ethical vs unethical corporate responses

If this was a corrupt country there would be other ways to co-opt or buy the
agreement of key people in the community. As an Engineer it is important that
you are not naive about these other methods. You need to detect these ideas
as soon as they start to emerge inside your project group, and recognise them
for the weeds they are: this calls for discernment and wisdom. (See also the
chapter on ETHICS.)

‘purpose’ is the reason for the organisation to exist (which is usually to
satisfy needs of owners and stakeholders),

‘mission’ is the organisation’s objectives to achieve in the situation under


‘vision’ is the desired future state of the organisation,

‘strategy’ is the organisation’s intended set of actions (solution plan) to

achieve that future outcome,

‘leadership’ is the ability to change the personal behaviours of others for the
achievement of the vision.

Unethical solutions
Sometimes people will use devious methods to subvert the decision-making
process and get what they want. Known unethical behaviours are:
 Bribes
 Excessive gifts given to indivisduals and corruption
 Significant gifts to key people (see ENTRAPMENT)
 Co-opt into the group [may be ethical in cases where the person is a
genuine representative of the community and does not stand to gain
 Tender fraud

Unethical solutions look convenient, but have consequences later. The end
does not justify the means.

Unethical behaviours
seek to influence
decisions by appealing to
the ignoble motivations

Motivation to
gifts (even Less noble
obtain self-
to third motivations (8) benefits
parties) and


for more Desire for self-gain
personal at expense of
resources others
CORRUPTED DECISIONS. Unethical attempts to pervert the decision-making
process can arise as an attempt to buy-off conflict.

.2 Engineers’ interactions with

tangata whenua
Engineers need to be aware of the need to consult the community who are
affected by a proposed engineering development. The solution the developing
organisation (and its managers and engineers) have in mind is not necessarily
the one that the tribe will approve.

Identify who the development
local people are
and who
represents them,
A find out the
approach them
values of the
early in the project Preparation ethnic group
before the
technical team
fixate on the how do they
solution path govern
themselves? establish trust
about each
B Initial intentions,
engagement relationships
between key
people on
initial response each side
from the ethnic
Feedback will
be given to
consider how this the ethnic
changes the C group about
proposed solution Consultation how the
route proposed
solution has

Preferences and
requirements of the

development If the stakeholder

group has
does not or ethnic group
authority, e.g. D Co- proceed has limited
per the
determination without authority in the
Treaty of
approval of matter, then D is
group optional

E Technical

the organisation
develops the
technical details of
their preferred

A Preparation
During this phase the organisation finds out the values of the ethnic group, and
how they govern themselves. There may be competing governance structures.

Start early and do not pre-determine the outcome

It is important to engage early with the cultural group. This means identifying
who the local people are and who represents them, approaching them early in
the project before the technical team fixate on the solution path.

Cultural factors to consider

Seek to determine the following cultural factors:
1. What specific knowledge does the group have of an area (geographic,
technological, philosophical, theological)?
2. What are the Value constructs of the group?
a. What things and processes are important to them?
b. Do they have specific terms for these things?
3. How do they make decisions? Where does the power reside in their
a. Power distance (degree to which superiors may be challenged
b. Who has the authority to represent the group?
c. Is decision-making delegated to a chief (or representative), or sub-
group of elders?
d. Will the wider group have to ratify the decision?
4. Methods of problem solving used in this group.
a. Individualism-collectivism
5. Specific terms and words for things that are important for this group and
its world view.
a. Terminology
b. Specific behaviors and practices that are meaningful to them, e.g.

Mt Taranki viewed from the Te Rewarewa bridge. This foot bridge is at New
Plymouth, and is a good example of engineering design that is contextualised
to tangata whenua. Photograph D Pons, 2017.

B Initial engagement
The purpose of the early interaction is to establish trust about each other’s
intentions, build relationships between key people on each side, and make an
early determination of whether the development has any chance of success –
and if so what the key variables are likely to be. It is not to make a decision.
The risk is that in these situations the parties misunderstand and mutually
offend each other.

Style of engagement
Ethnic groups universaly prefer genuine and respectful communication early in
the development process. They respond defensively when involved late, or
when their involvement in decision-making is restricted, or withdraw.

Ethnic groups generally prefer to initially meet face-to-face (kanohi ki kaniohi)

and discuss the matters, rather than through formal letters, documents, or
lawyers. Senior staff from the developers are expected to be involved.

Important concepts are hui meeting; Korero (verb) to speak, address; Mōhio
(verb) to understand, recognise; Wānanga to meet and discuss, consider.

Engineers tend to value problem solving, technical competence, efficiency with

time, and getting things done. When they have a meeting they naturally want
to get as quickly as possible to the content of the agenda. Engineers are trained
to be rationalists: they use the scientific method and tend to perceive that the
resulting quantitative science facts and relationships are the highest form of

In contrast Māori are interested in the context of the meeting. They wish to
build relationships and know the other person before deciding on the matters.
This is an equally valid way of perceiving the situation. In the Māori context a
formal meeting (hui) has a set of traditional protocols for welcoming and
making introductions.

Pesentation of details
It is generally unwise to present a complete solution at the outset, because this
suggests to other stakeholders that you have a fixed solution plan and that the
consultation will be meaningless. Also, the work that you have done in the
detailed design of that solution may have to be redone after consultation. It is
better to use the initial consultation with the community to identify the things
that they value. Then you can assess the degree to which those factors will be
a constraint on your project or design.

Deficit model
The deficit model of communication is that people misunderstand because
they do not have enough information. This is a fallacious model when dealing
with conflicting worldviews. Part of the individual’s world view is based on a
belief system, and this is impervious to factual falsification. Simply quoting
facts at the antagonist will not change the beliefs. This also applies to use of

logical arguments – they may not work at all. People with different world views
can be at the same meeting and hear the same words, but come away with
different interpretations, because the meaning of words varies with different
world views. It is important to become aware of one’s own world view, and not
assume that others have the same view.

C Consultation
At this stage the organisation receives the initial response from the ethnic
group, and considers how this changes the proposed solution route. Feedback
will be given to the ethnic group about how the proposed solution has

If the stakeholder or ethnic group has limited authority in the matter, then the
process stops at this point and the organisation develops the technical details
of their preferred solution.

For example, if widening of a road requires that some houses be compulsory

acquired and demolished, then the local government only has to consult
before it proceeds. If the owners of those houses do not wish to sell, then they
are forced to do so, and in most civilised countries the owners will be given the
fair market value of their house.

However if an ethnic group is involved, and they have authority, for example
per the Treaty of Waitangi, then the process has to continue beyond
consultation. Further stages are necessary as the decision is not solely that of
the organisation.

D Co-determination
This stage involves the organization working together with the ethnic group to
find a solution. Both parties are equal, and if a solution is to be found then it
will be by consensus. If one party does not wish to proceed, then the
development does not proceed.

This situation commonly arises in New Zealand where there is an iwi that has
authority over the land or body of water. These rights were provided by the
Treaty of Waitangi, and cannot be extinguished.

Other less common situations are where religious groups have authority over a
place of worship, which the government wants to change. Obviously this only

applies in religiously tolerant countries. For example, the Christchurch
Cathedral was thrown down in the the February 2011 earthquake. For many
years after the city and the Anglican Church debated what to do with it. The
city wanted it restored as it was a tourist attraction - but were unable to pay
for the high costs of doing this. In contrast and perhaps counter intuitively, the
Anglical Church wanted to demolish the ruin and rebuild a new church with a
modern design – which would have resulted in a stronger building at a cost
they could afford. In this case the city could not force the Anglican Church to
do what the city wanted, and the city had no power to acquire the land and
run church services themselves. So if the city was to get what it wanted, it had
to persuade rather than force the Anglican Church.

Co-determination necessarily results in a shared governance of the

development. For example there may be an oversight board. The development
can be set up as a joint venture, where the organization provides the capital
and the staff & technical knowledge, and the ethnic group contributes the land
or water body. A joint venture is a separate company to both the partners,
and provides a mechanism to share governance and profits. However not all
developments warrant this full structure. A lease is another option: this is a
right to use a defined natural resource for a finite time. Sometimes the ethnic
group will set up a company or a trust in which to receive its share of the
income or profits. This business entity may then be used for subsequent
developments too.

Invariably the cultural group will impose conditions of use of the resource. For
example, if it is off-shore mining then it will be reasonable to expect
environmental monitoring [2].

9 Māori worldviews: Types of
activities likely to be opposed
by mana whenua iwi in New
The person or firm proposing the development (‘the Developer’) usually has a
worldview that seeks to optimise the economic utility, and perceives the
resources as underused, and in need of development. In contrast the
worldview of the ethnic group is towards preserving an existing quality and
way of life.

.1 Kaupapa - principles
Ethnic groups such as iwi are likely to oppose activities on land or sea that:
 wāhi tapu: Disturb sacred (tapu) places, such as sites (wāhi) of burial or
 wāhi taonga: Disturb places that are treasured (taonga) for cultural or
historic reasons.
 Adversely affect the environment for plant and animal species that are
valued for cultural or economic purposes.
 Restrict traditional cultural activities, or way of life, whether or not these
have economic utility.
 Damage the income or earnings potential of members of the tribe.
 The life force (mauri) of the natural environment is damaged. For
example if regeneration of the natural environment is not certain.
Adapted from [2].

Ethnic groups have an expectation that the development will provide an

economic benefit to the ethnic group, and possibly also the wider community.
These benefits could be:
 Payment of royalties. ‘Currently, central government receives the
benefit of the oil and gas industry through royalities. If in future royalties

are paid to local communitieis, Kā Rūnaka expect to benefit equitably, to
recognise their ongoing and sustained kaitiakitanga role.’ [2](p21).
 Employment of locals, as workers and consultants (e.g. cultural
 Contribution to building community facilities such as schools.
 Provision of scholarships to locals.

There are also expectations about the risk of environmental damage. The
ethnic group will expect that the Developer:
 Has a comprehensive environmental impact assessment conducted by a
reputable third party – not the Developers own employees.
 Has a plan for environmental emergencies, and sufficient insurance
cover for the clean-up.
 Will return the site to an agreed condition at the end of the period
(especially for mining operations).
 Will preferable restore the site to better than it was before.
 Agrees to financial compensation to the ethnic group for environmental

There are a number of potentially contentious issues, including cultural

misappropriation, disrespect, former territory, and probity.

.2 Misappropriation of cultural
Ethnic groups are invariably sensitive to misappropriation of cultural heritage,
specifically the commercialisation of their heritage by other ethnic groups. A
reverse example for NZ is the bungee jump. This was developed into a
commercial business in NZ by A Hackett, who based the idea on land tower
divers from Pentecost island (Vanuatu). Those islanders feel aggrieved that
Hackett’s firm is making money out of their cultural practices, and now seek a

In general these issues are complex because there is often no binding legal
framework, and furthermore the issues may span different legal jurisdictions –
though see also the Matua Declaration. Hence compliance tends to be

Also there are contrasting worldviews involved: the ethnic group perceives the
misappropriation as perverse capitalism, whereas the commercial firm
perceives that knowledge owned by the world is free to be utilised for
commercial purposes. Related to that is the smaller ethnic group may feel an
existential threat and hence seek to preserve the special features of their

One can understand this by adapting the VIRO framework to represent the
point of difference of the group. They seek to ensure that their cultural
property retains its Value to their group where this value is measured as
personal fulfilment, commercial benefits for the group, and respect given by
outsiders to the group (mana). Cultural property that instead enriches others
has therefore been taken from them. They seek to ensure that their cultural
property is Inimitable, i.e. is protected from being copied by others. Where this
is not provided by law, they may use other forms such as protest to obtain
redress. They also seek to ensure the property is Rare in the sense that
outsiders who wish to see these aspects of the culture can only do so in
situations controlled by the group, hence cannot obtain it elsewhere. Finally
the group is anxious to preserve the practices of the group (corresponding to
the processes within an Organisation) and this is where the existential concern
arises when faced by a dominant external ethnic group.

This is complicated by people outside the group not really feeling that they
belong to a specific ethic group themselves, or not feeling protective about
their own cultural products. For example English is the dominant language and
culture in many countries outside of the UK. There is no issue commercialising
UK cultural products (e.g. roses, foods, language, clothing, symbols, literature)
outside of the UK. So outsiders may not realise that another ethnic group feels
more protective of its culture.

Firms such as megacorps tend to be multinational in their operations and staff,

and try to position themselves as existing on a plane above national
jurisdictions. Furthermore they arrange their operations and pressure
weak/corrupt governments so as to limit the firm’s tax, environmental, labour-
welfare and other responsibilities to the local jurisdiction. They also create
their own organisational culture and actively impose this on their staff via
selection criteria (‘input control’ in the human resources term, ‘organisational
fit’ is the term used by interview panels), vicarious learning, and promotion
critera (‘organisational alignment’ and ‘strategic human resource
management’). Large firms create their own cuture, and in these situations

the cultural values of small powerless ethnic groups are prone to being

.3 Disrespect
Ethnic groups want others to take them seriously. They need that authority if
they are advance their group’s interests in the wider world. Also, all groups
have internal power struggles, and that includes ethnic groups. Hence leaders
of ethnic groups benefit from respect from outsiders because this supports
their interal right to lead. For all these reasons ethnic groups are sensitive to
disrespect and their leaders seek authority (mana).

Consequenty if an external firm wishes to use the land or other resources of

the ethnic group, they feel disrespect if the meetings are led by minions of the
firm. Instead they want senior executives involved, at least at the start.

Disrespect applies in non-commercial situations too. Ethnic groups are

offended when people from other cultures behave with contempt (conscious
acts of rejection) towards them. For example youth travellers of the 2010’s
developed a perverse habit of taking naked selfies with other people’s culture,
and then posting the photos on social media. Doing this is interpreted as a
person in love with themself and so needy of social approval that they will
trash another culture for their own vanity. Examples include a sex-model
stripping off on Mt Taranaki, tourists showing their arses on Mt Kinabalu
(Malaysia), more tourists taking naked selfies in Angor Wat, students stripping
off at the Grand Canyon. The behaviour does not go down well with local
authorities. It’s usually followed by a week in a prison cell in what is usually a
foreign country, being taken in handcuffs to a local court, being paraded
before journalists, having to give a humiliating public apology, having to pay a
fine, and being put on an international travel watch list or being banned from
visting that country ever again.

Taking off one’s clothes is a deliberate act, and hence the offence is felt more
deeply. It is also possible to inadvertently cause offence, but that is often
quickly solved with an apology.

.4 Former territory
In general an ethnic group will have had more territory in the past than now.
They may have lost that territory through treaty, a war (which is invariably
perceived by the loser as unjust and by the victor as legitimate), having to flee

the land in time of disaster, other immigrants squeezing them out, land sales in
times gone by, expropriation by government, or mineral/energy rights sold by
government to megacorps. Consequently the ethnic group will have an
interest in that land even if they no longer control it. Lacking any legal
authority over the use of the land, they will attempt to influence the usage via
political means. The latter may include district plans, environmental legislation,
protest, or in other ways seek to assert a degree of cultural stewardship over
the land. In contrast those currently in possession of the land typically prefer
to have unencumbered use thereof. They will tend to lobby or vote for political
parties that will dismantle the restrictions. This debate slowly plays out in the
public political space as governments with different principles come and go.

.5 Probity
Ethnic groups have an expectation that a development in their territory will
give them an economic benefit. This may come via financial payments,
royalties, favourable employment. Multiple potential ethical issues arise, and
ethnic groups across the world have not always managed these well. Financial
payments may be misdirected to powerful individuals, settlements and
royalties may be spent unwisely so that capital is eroded, poor accounting
systems allow selfish disbursements, employment goes to a select few, internal
fights for power consume the resources. Sometimes the causes are corrupt
leaders of the ethnic group, a culture within the group where the leader is
above reproach hence unaccountable, poor financial skills, or inept
management. A large financial settlement given to an ethnic group will attract
external consultants, and the ethnic group may lack the commercial
experience to realise that some smooth speaking consultants are really only
after the money.

Hence ethnic groups that suddenly come into a large amount of money have
the difficult problem of quickly haing to create robust governance and modern
management systems within the group. This is difficult because up to that
point their way of operating tends to have been verbal and based on seniority
rather than competence. Hence cases arise where ethnic groups are given
large financial settlements but waste these and end up worse than before
because they lose the finances and the territory. The better solution is
probably to put the income into a properly set up company structure,
implement a robust accounting system with annual external audits, appoint

competent managers, and put the tribal elders on the board (as opposed to in

Engineers in organisations that are doing developments in tribal areas need to

be mindful of the professional Code of Ethical Conduct and the need not to
engage in or support corrupt practices or give inducements. Paying cash
directly to a tribal leader, or empoying their children probably does not meet
the ethical test. Engaging the tribe’s own people as cultural consultants needs
to be done transparently so that the potential conflicts of interest do not
become points of ethical criticism.

10 Including cultural values

in engineering decision-
.1 Three Pillars
The three pillars model states that outcomes are sustainable to the extent that
they simultaneously optimise all of the economic value, benefit to society, and
environmental integrity.

Three pillars. Image D Pons.

Although this model is primarily intended to depict the environmental

considerations, it is useful in understanding where conflict arises in the
societal situations, say a wind farm development.

The limitations with the Three Pillars perspective is the difficulty of making a
decision framework from it. It is more a conceptual model.

.2 Worldviews towards making profits

from the natural environment
People in society (the red pillar) have an existing interaction with their natural
environment (green pillar). This interaction gives them satisfaction and is
valuable to them in intangible ways. They have had this interaction for a very
long time.

Then a commercial organisation arrives and wishes to make economic gain
(blue pillar) out of the environmental resource. The people are unhappy about
the risk of losing the quality of their interaction, and this is especially offensive
if the project is merely for someone else’s gain. They object, and conflict

The Māori construct of kaitiakitanga is a cultural world view about the

environment, and emphasises the stewardship (personal responsibility), food
provenance, and personal connectedness to the land, waters, and natural
environment. Māori tend to have a holistic view of the natural environment
around them [5], which extends to an integration of the landscape, fauna &
flora, history, spiritual, and legends associated with the location.

The European world view of the environment is also holistic, but in a different
way. It tends to emphasise the aesthetic beauty of nature, personal relaxation
& emotional renewal in the environment, adventurism, wonder in the
connectedness of ecological systems, and the sense that the wild spaces
belong to everyone.

.3 Landscape evaluation factors used

by the NZ Environment Court
The concept of LANDSCAPE refers to the qualities that people attribute to
landforms. These include the topographical shape, local ecology, visual
aesthetics, value to indigenous people, and its history.

The NZ Environment court identified a number of criteria to be considered

when evaluating the significance of landscape features to society. This list was
based on progressive development over several cases and is not a fixed list.
The criteria are:
‘(a) the natural science factors - the geological, topographical, ecological
and dynamic components of the landscape,
(b) its aesthetic values including memorability and naturalness;
(c) its expressiveness (legibility): how obviously the landscape demonstrates the formative
processes leading to it;
(d) transient values: occasional presence of wildlife; or its values at certain
times of the day or of the year;
(e) whether the values are shared and recognised;
(f) its value to tangata whenua;

(g) its historical associations.’ (82) [5]

The Court noted that these were factors for consideration, and did not need to
be given equal weight. They were sceptical of the value of reducing them to ‘a
mere formulaic framework that could simply be fed through in a computerised
fashion’, because they felt that it was a judgement activity that was unsuitable
to a ‘mathematical or mechanistic approach to assessment’ [5].

.4 Mauri – life force within

What is mauri?
Mauri referred historically to the Māori concept of a life force that existing
within ecosystems. It was originally associated with religious beliefs

Mauri refers to the ‘binding force between the physical and the spiritual
elements’ [9], or what might be termed the essence of life:
‘life principle, vital essence, special nature, a material symbol of a life principle,
source of emotions - the essential quality and vitality of a being or entity. Also used
for a physical object, individual, ecosystem or social group in which this essence is

The modern development of the mauri concept is that it refers to the life
within an ecosystem, i.e. that an environmental system such as a forest has
health and vitality as a whole system. Hence deleting, over-exploting, or
contaminating one part of the system has a wider effect on the whole.

For example, in previous times Europeans would cut down all the large trees
in the NZ forests, for sawing into planks. Hence they were taking much more
than they needed. The sawmills were exploiting a resource to make their own
economic wealth, but to the detriment of the forest as a whole. Hence the
mauri of the forest was compromised. In addition the process was
unsutainable since the trees were hundreds if not thousands of years old, and
it would take a similar length of time for new trees to grow to the same size.

In contrast the old Māori practice was to only take from the forest what was
needed, to take it carefully and with gratitude.

Mauri is a wide term that can alos be applied to the holistic health of people
and groups of people:

‘Mauri ora can mean realising one’s fullest potential and is something we should be keenly
aware of promoting, for ourselves and those around us. We can also be aware of the mauri
ora of a whānau, a team, a project, a programme or a place.’ [10]

Decision-making framework
The mauri concept has been developed by Dr Kepa Morgan at the University
of Auckland into a quantitative tool called the Mauri Model Decision Making
Framework [11]. The concept measures mauri in four dimensions of wellbeing,
and these are then weighted [12].

Level Mauri dimension of wellbeing Weighting,

example from
Whanau economic (whanau mauri) 0.30
Community social (community mauri) 0.20
Hapū clan cultural (hapu mauri) 0.20
Ecosystem environmental (taiao mauri) 0.30

Under each of these various sub factors are included depending on the
situation. Each of these is evaluated on a 5 point symmetrical scale and
weighted results summed across all the scales.
Score Descriptor [12]
+2 Enhanced mauri ora/kaha
+1 Maintaining mauri mahi
0 Neutral
-1 Diminishing mauri noho
-2 Destroyed mauri mate

See example for: geothermal [13]; contaminated land [14].

 More details on the method:
 Application of the decision-making method to the Rena shipwreck:
 Mauri in the area of maritime conservation:

There are limitations to the mauri method. One is the subjectivity of the
indicators. These have to be determined in context. Ideally these would be
determined by consensus beforehand, otherwise they are the personal
constructs of the analyst. A second limitation is that the method does not
include the full spectrum of dimensions, instead it focusses on the
ethnographic dimension. A related limitation is that the method
asymmetrically focusses on the ethnic perspective whereas in reality there are
usually national considerations too.

11 Cultural impact
A Cultural impact assessment (CIA) is an evaluation of a project for its effects
on the culture of people who are stakeholders. Often the project may be based
on land development, but not necessarily so.

There is, at present, no standard methodology for conducting cultural impact

assessments. There are several methods, ranging from qualitative to
quantitative. It is difficult to interpret the findings, and the results from any
one CIA are not easily compared to others.

This is a new and emerging area of development (and could make an

interesting research topic). 2

Consequently I have developed a prototype method. I call it the Bridge method

since it combines elements of the Three pillars, the NZ Environmental court,
the Mauri decision framework, and Environmental Impact Assessment.

.1 Factors to be considered
The Bridge method proposes that there are three categories or dimensions of
1. Societal benefits: These include the benefits to the first peoples (tangata
whenua per the Mauri method) and the other peoples (per the Three
Pillars model). Importantly, ‘society’ in this context is defined as the local
people, who are stakeholders rather than shareholders in the proposed
project. These are the people who are affected by the project. This is the
called the internal perspective. This dimension is nominally weighted
2. Environmental benefits: These include elements from all four methods
above. This is termed the meta perspective. This dimension is nominally
weighted 40%.

The research topic could be along the lines of (a) determining a comprehensive list of factors, using
qualitative research methods (QR), (b) devising a method to represent these, perhaps an extension of the
Bridge, LCA, or other methodology, and (c) test and validate new method on a case study. If you are interested
in such a research project then please discuss with me – Dirk Pons 8 Sept 2018.

3. External Economics: This dimension includes the profit and strategic
value of the project to the organisations undertaking it. These
organisations may be commercial firms or governmental agencies, or
any combination. Hence the profit motive of shareholders and the
national interest are both represented here. The technical feasibility
likewise. This is called the external perspective. This dimension is
nominally weighted 30%.
These are the three main dimensions. Within each are facets, which are finer
resolution descriptors.

.2 Choice of weights
The choice of weights deliberately balances the needs of small people in
society, vs. the captains of industry and directors of state departments. The
ethnic group tends to have less voice, hence is assigned a full 30%, whereas the
more powerful capitalists and government agencies get 30% to share between

The environmental considerations dominate both, since they affect the wider
society, hence a greater weight of 40% is assigned. This is so that if all else is
equal the decision will favour what is best for the natural ecosystem that
supports the nation as a whole, rather than the narrower interests of the
ethnic group, capitalists, or government agencies.

The weights should be determined at the outset, ideally by co-determination

between all stakeholders.

.3 Indicators
There are three levels of definition: the three main dimensions, facets (or sub-
dimensions), and indicators.

The indicators are intended to be adapted to the context, and should ideally be
determined by co-determination between all stakeholders.

Note that adding more indicators text fields does not change the weight
assigned to each facet.

The weightings of the dimensions and facets are not intended to be changed as
doing so would destabilise the balance in the weighting.

.4 Scoring
The scoring system uses the simple scale provided by Kepa Morgan’s mauri
1. Indicators are scored on a scale depending on whether they degrade or
enhance the benefit [-2, -1, 0, +1, +2].
2. These are then averaged for each facet.
3. Then the scores for the different courses of action are determined by a
weighted sum.

The status quo, i.e. change nothing, is always to be included as the reference
point. One or more proposed projects (options) must be included.

.5 Application of the method

In application, the method must be explained to all parties (groups of
stakeholders) before being applied. They must be given the opportunity to
contribute to the definition of the indicators, and agree to the identity of the
analyst team.

That team will need to be introduced, and their personal and professional
backgrounds explained. It is important, for the minimisation of downstream
conflict, to generate trust at the outset. In these contexts, trust is often based
on relational rather than professional competency.

Thereafter the option with the greatest score, which may be the status quo, is
then deemed the best per analysis. If this outcome is unacceptable then the
decision making should be moved back to an open discussion forum. There are
likely to be additional qualitative factors for some party, that are not being
captured by the analysis.

The analysis itself is imperfect – it limits the dimensions and constrains them
by weights and the quantitative method. The dissatisfied party should identify
their additional grounds for their preferred outcome. Thereafter the decision
should be made according to the degree of participation in decision-making
established at the outset. If the project is a government project, then
consultation might be appropriate, but if there is a significant commercial
beneficiary then co-determination seems better.

.6 Template for the Bridge cultural
impact assessment method
Delete the grey text and numbers when using this.

Context statement
Description Representation
Image, diagram, schematic, system
Status quo The quick brown fox jumps over
the lazy dog
Option A Now is the time for all good men to
come to the aid of their country.
Option B Hi!, He lithely bellowed boringly.
Car nicely on fire nearby. Nasty
magnesium alloys. Silly people
should clear area. Keep calling
scattering titans vandals. Crash
man ferries cobbers. Nice cute zany
gallinule genes are selecting
broken krypton.

Evaluation matrix
Bridge Indicators
[Identify these in consultation with other
dimension Status Option Option
stakeholders before commencing. A Weight
of quo A B
further allocation of sub-weights may be
wellbeing applied – not shown here.]
Step 1: Facets are scored on a scale from degrade to Step 2: Compute scores
enhance [-2, -1, 0, +1, +2] per weights and then sum

1 Societal benefits (tangata whenua, tangata Tiritri) 30 0/30 -10/30 10/30

1.1 Economic  increased employment and income

benefit to local for locals
families  improved physical health and safety [10] 0 1 1
(whanau  improved well-being including
mauri) mental heath
 community resilience and uplift
1.2  countering adverse social
Community behaviours (crime, drugs, etc.) [10] 0 0 0
benefits  protection of indigenous knowledge
or product of appellation

 maintaining cultural value including
ancestral legends of the landscape
for tangata whenua
1.3 Cultural
 preserving ability of future
benefits(hapu [10] 0 -2 0
generations to meet their own
needs (kaitiakitanga)
 preservation of historically
significant places or items

2 Environmental benefits (taiao mauri) 40 0/40 20/40 40/40

 protecting aesthetic values of the
landscape including recreation
 protecting natural science values of
the landscape
 reducing waste, pollution, damage,
spoiling 0 1 2
 improving quality of water, air, soil
 improving ecology, fauna & flora,
including transient phenomena
 minimising adverse life cycle effects

3 External economics 30 0/30 25/30 10/30

 increased profitability for business
 strategic value to commercial
3.1 Utility [10] 0 2 1
organisation(s) with shareholders
 project is within the financial
resources of the organisation(s)
 readily feasible from a technical
Technological [10] 0 2 1
 no significant residual adverse risks
(risks after treatment)
 strategic value to local government
3.3 National
 strategic value to national [10] 0 1 0

35/10 60/10
TOTAL SCORE 100 0/100
0 0

In this case option A favours the external economics, but does poorly against
the societal and environmental dimensions. Option B gives less external
economic utility but is better for the other dimensions, and this shows in its
better score. The nominal decision is to take Option B.

.7 Exercise: Mini-hydroelectric power
Hypothetically the Hydra commercial dairy farm has a stream, the Wainanga,
flowing through their property and out to sea. The property is on the coast.
The company has in mind to generate hydroelectric power from the stream.
This will be used to power the milking shed. They anticipate generating 10kW,
which given that the shed does not work all the time, will give some surplus
power to put back into the grid. This will save power costs for the company
and be a source of green energy for society.

HYDROPOWER IS NOT WITHOUT IMPACTS: Weirs can be difficult for

migratory fish. Image D Pons

The NZ Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) encourages small

scale hydro:
‘If you have access to the right stream or waterway, micro-hydro can be a reliable and
economic way to generate your own electricity. Many small hydro schemes already exist on
rivers and streams around New Zealand, and there are more opportunities to use water
driven generation for remote farms and homes.’
home/generating-energy/micro-hydro-systems/ Accessed 11 Sept 2016

For an example of a commercial vendor of micro hydro see
systems Accessed 11 Sept 2016

To build the hydro plant, it will be necessary to put a weir across the stream.
Hydra are aware of the need to apply for a resource consent, and that it will be
essential not to extract all the water, as this would isolate the lower and upper
reaches of the aquatic ecology. However a weir will also prevent galaxiid fish
from migrating and breeding, thereby affecting the ecology of these species.

‘Whitebait are the juveniles of five species of fish: giant kōkopu, banded kōkopu, shortjaw
kōkopu, inanga, and kōaro. They are part of a group called galaxiids.’ Accessed 11 Sept 2016

The juveniles of these fish are īnanga (whitebait) and are a historic and current
food source for Māori and other cultures. The Wainanga stream is a popular
fishing spot for catching whitebait, and the weir will adversely affect the
productivity of this stream – reduce it by half.

Question: Apply the Bridge decision framework to assess three scenarios:

status quo (no hydro power); weir; and a third solution of your choice. You
may use representative data and make any reasonable assumptions (to be
documented) because there is no means of engaging with stakeholders in this
scenario (usually this would be done).

12 Communication plan
Having a pre-designed communication plan is an important part of many
projects. It is also essential for disaster recovery and should be considered a
type of barrier in the bowtie process.

DANG! Who do we tell about this? Southwest Airlines Flight 1248 crashed
through the perimeter fence of Chicago Midway International Airport on 8
December 2005. Photo Gabriel Widyna (public domain) Southwest_Airlines_Flight_1248

A communication plan is a systematic identification of the key stakeholders

and what key messages the organisation would like them to understand.

The stakeholders value things differently, and hence their needs are different
and the message will emphasise different things. Also, there is a time
dimension, especially to long-scale engineering projects. Some stakeholders
are involved early in the project and others later.

.1 Applications
Public relations and marketing agencies make extensive use of communication
plans. In their case they focussed on trying to create a desirable image for the
brand, and are hoping to influence buyers’ purchase decisions.

Large infrastructure-type engineering projects, e.g. dams, new harbours,

windfarms, need to think carefully about communication especially if there is a
contentious element to the development, like expropriation of land or
degradation of natural environment.

Emergency plans need to include a communication element. For example, an

airline will have a communication plan for how it responds to a plane crash.
There are designated organisational spokespeople.

Communication plans are typically applied to external communication.

However they can also be applied to interactions internal to the organisation.
Examples are project managers, and senior managers. Some organisations
have a central project office, and communication is an important part of their

.2 Contents of a Communication plan

The plan identifies the stakeholders, the key messages that the organisation
needs to get across to them, and how this communication will be done. It is
usually presented as a simple tabular list. This only needs to be one or two
pages. The key thing here is to identify the breadth of stakeholders and involve
them as appropriate, as opposed to creating problems by forgetting to include
a person or group. State your overall strategy for consultation with these
people, and the proposed level of involvement.

Description of project or <insert text and image here>

Timescale or key <insert Gantt chart or milestones here>
Stakeholders or target What does Key messages (WHY) Indicate when What medium of Spokesperson.
audiences. this that the What in the communication Who in the
stakeholder organisation outcomes timeframe the will be used? organisation will
May be individuals, but value or seek needs to get does the organisation Small Meetings, undertake this
more commonly groups to optimise? across to this organisation needs to large meetings, communication?
of people. Some typical stakeholder. seek from communicate public Do they need any
examples given below this with this consultation, resources?
stakeholder? stakeholder Presentations,
What News letters,
information Announcements,

(data, etc. How often
processes, will these
insights, activities occur
consent) does with this
the project stakeholder?
team need to
give or
receive from
For projects involving technology implemented in society, with consultation
Regional authorities
Tribal groups
Formal public
notification or
Partners in the venture
Prospective customers
Current customers
Special interest groups
in society
Other users of the

For projects involving commercial clients

Client (person paying
for the project to be
Customer (end users to
whom the Client will sell
Procurement officers
(people who make the
decision to buy)
Regulatory bodies
(safety authorities,
requirements, product
Managers of the
organisation conducting
the project, people who
have authority over the
Internal stakeholders,
other design teams,
production, testing,
human resources,
facility services.
Suppliers, out-sourced
Other stakeholders as

.3 Exercise: Lego stakeholders
Lego also gives us an opportunity to consider the concept of ‘stakeholders’.
These are the people who will be affected by the product [Lego toys in this
case], and may have the power to influence purchase decisions.

1 Identify the stakeholders in a Lego toy purchase.
2 Find LEGO’s mission statement. In what ways is that aligned to the
various stakeholder needs?
3 Comment on what the Lego company does to cause stakeholders to
trust the product.
4 You are on the design team for a new Lego product. What principles are
you going to adopt in the design and storyline? What themes will you
focus on, and what are the Unhelpful themes to avoid?

Comments and questions

The first stakeholder is the customer and end-user. Distributors carry the risk
of unsold product - are they a stakeholder too? Photo D Pons

Who paid for all this product? Are they stakeholders too? Image D Pons

Stakeholders are generally outside the immediate workgroup. The Bosses and
the company Owners are not stakeholders but Superiors and Shareholders

What kind of play is involved? Who consents to this? Image D Pons

LEGO’s Mission:
‘Inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow’
Our ultimate purpose is to inspire and develop children to think creatively,

reason systematically and release their potential to shape their own future -
experiencing the endless human possibility.’
‘Our approach to play demands that we assume responsibility for the safety
of our products, so we’re constantly updating some of the world’s strictest
safety standards for our toys: standards that start in the earliest stages of a
product’s development and reach beyond the point when the plaything is in
kids’ hands. And we’re just as devoted to children’s well being when they’re
in our online recreation area.’ 11/5/2011

The concept of internal and external customers is also relevant here. But
customers have a direct influence [you owe them something]...
...whereas stakeholders have an indirect influence [you are obliged to them].

13 Human factors
Another way in which engineering technology interacts with society is at the
level of individual people. Typical applications:

 Usability studies analyse the interaction between a person and a product

(or service). The analysis is usually done by watching or recording how
an individual interacts with the product.

 Human factors is a broad term that covers many aspects of human

interaction with their environment. Ergonomics is primarily the
consideration of how the human body physically fits into operating
environments, e.g. car driving posture. Physical anthropometry provides
a range of statistical sizes for the human body, e.g. leg length, arm reach,
amount of force able to be exerted at a given arm reach. Tasks and work
environments can then be designed to fit both large (e.g. 95th percentile
Caucasian male) and small people (e.g. 5th percentile Asian female).
Cognitive psychology examines what people are thinking when they
interact with some system (technical or otherwise).

 Socio-technical interactions and human error [See Safety Engineering]

examine how operators interact with plant and machines to cause

 Market research and Advertising seek respectively to find out and

change people’s attitudes towards products.

Engineers can be involved in all these specialised areas. Human factors can be
a really interesting practice area for engineers. It can also be a good research
area for postgraduate study.

14 Scenarios
Tidal barrage
A tidal barrage is a dam across a bay, that creates a head difference as the tide
flows in or out. This head is then used to generate electricity using a water
turbine. Construction cost is high relative to other forms of energy generation.

These barrages have significant adverse environmental effects, because they

change the ecosystem in the basin. Salinity decreases, sediment movement
changes, and fish die in the turbine passages.

Hypothetically the Havelock District Council in New Zealand wish to create a

tidal barrage across the Pelorus Sound Te Hoiere, in the Marlborough Sounds.
Anticipate the likely issues and suggest a process for the Council. Apply the
Bridge methodology for a cultural impact assessment.

Hypothetically, Hydra Fish, a joint venture between Hydra New Zealand and
Raw Prawn Australia, are interested in setting up a fish farm in the Pelorus
Sound - Te Hoiere, in the Marlborough Sounds of New Zealand (top of the
South Island).

Tory Channel in the Marlborough Sounds. Image Phillip C CC BY 2.0

The scenario is fictitious but the following background is not.

The mana whenua are Ngāti Kuia. Their ancestor arrived there in his waka Te
Hoiere, hence the name of the sound.

The following extract gives some context to the situation:

‘People identifying themselves as Maori comprised 12 per cent of the

population of Havelock in 1996 (cf. 14.5 per cent for NZ). The local iwi is Ngati
Kuia, while other iwi closely associated with the district are Rangitane and
Ngati Koata. The marae of the Ngati Kuia is at Te Hora near Canvastown.
Ngati Kuia own a fishing company based in Nelson which leases quota fr
om the Maori Fisheries Commission. They fund their administration and
research, and make educational grants from the revenue derived from fishing

quota. They have also become involved with marine farming with the goal of
supplying better employment opportunities for their people. Ngati Kuia have
concerns about the negative effects of large scale marine farming on
environmental sustainability in the Marlborough Sounds, and on sacred sites
such as the Chetwodes and Titi Islands.’ Baines J, McClintock EW and Taylor, N (2000)Resource Community
Formation and Change: A Case Study of Havelock, Taylor Baines & Associates. Working Paper No. 26.

In the past Ngati Kuia have objected to other proposed aquaculture farms,
specifically at Anakoha Bay where the issue was customary rights (historical
access and use of resources). Other issues have been around waste, a
particular example being the siting of the Havelock waste landfill, which was
deemed to be too close to waterways and sacred sites.

You should now inform yourself about the NZ foreshore and seabed issues. See
Note the diffierent concept to ownership (‘marine title’) in the legistlation.
‘Customary marine title is inalienable – the area cannot be sold.
Customary marine title recognises the relationship that has existed and
will continue to exist between iwi and the foreshore and seabed. It
allows for continued public access and recreation, while allowing local
iwi, hapū or whānau to exercise certain rights set out in the Marine and
Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Act 2011, including the ownership of
minerals (other than petroleum, gold, silver and uranium in their natural
condition) within the customary marine title area.’

(a) Describe the implications of the Treaty of Waitangi for the Hydra Fish
venture. Where do the rights of the iwi arise, under that Treaty and under the
any other subsequent related legislation?
(b) What values can be expected to be included in the Ngāti Kuia world view in
this case?
(c) How would Hydra go about understanding Ngāti Kuia perceptions and
implications of the proposed engineering activities? Draw a flowchart
representing the activities that Hydra would be wise to do.
(d) Apply the Bridge cultural impact assessment.

Mining the sea-bed
The Moana division of the Hydra firm wishes to mine the shallow sea bed off
the Otago coast, for gold and titanium. The deposits comprise mud, silt, and
small stones, in a layer 4m thick, 50m underwater, and stretching from the surf
line out to 5km offshore. The operation involves sucking up the alluvial
deposits, removing the desired minerals, and redepositing the tailings on the
sea bed. This operation is in the general area of the Kāi Tahu iwi tribal group.

Sea mining ship ‘Peace in Africa’ is owned by De Beers and used off the coast
of Namibia to extract gravel using sea bed crawlers, sort out the diamonds, and
return the gravel to the sea bed. Image Gary Creative Commons Attribution-
Share Alike 2.0 Generic license

Moana Hydra intend to use the same extractive process used elsewhere in the
world. This process is also intended to be used to mine iron sands off the
Taranaki coast, and is described by Trans-Tasman Resources as follows:

‘The sands will be processed offshore aboard a purpose built 345 metre
integrated mining vessel (IMV). This vessel is designed to operate
through almost all known weather conditions in the area. The iron sand
will be extracted by remote controlled 450t seabed crawlers, excavating
up to 8,000t hour, similar to those operated by DeBeers Marine offshore
Namibia to recover diamonds. The extraction process occurs in a
sequence of blocks, by extracting a lane 10m wide and 5m deep on
average. The IMV will have a purpose built metallurgical processing plant
on board producing 5Mt titano-magnetite concentrate a year. The sand
is returned to the seafloor in a controlled manner through a pipe
extending from the processing vessel to approximately 4m above the
seafloor. The concentrates, initially stored on the IMV, will be transferred
as slurries to the trans-shipment vessel (TSV), where they will be
dewatered (dried out). The load will then be transferred using dry bulk
ship-to-ship loading systems, thereby placing the dried concentrates into
other ships that will export the products directly to world markets. There
is therefore no on-shore material handling or storage. The project will
add to the local economy and generate local, regional and national
economic benefits through employment and training, royalties, and
taxes. Locally, approximately 300 direct jobs will be created and $350m
spent on operating costs every year. New Zealand also benefits from
increased export earnings, mining royalties and corporate income tax
paid to the Government.
Studies have concluded that the project will not have an adverse impact
on the shore and nearshore environment or on biological diversity on the
seabed or wider area. The seabed lies in an area of constantly shifting
sands, so is largely featureless and no rare or vulnerable ecosystems or
threatened species have been found in the area. The main effect to
manage would be the relatively small addition to the existing
background plume of disturbed sediment in the water around the project
area. Evidence from international operations, similar to our plan for the
South Taranaki Bight, suggests that polychaete worms and small bivalve
species are accustomed to disturbed environments and will begin to
recolonise returned sediment almost immediately. This will be supported
by the fact the substrata will not be significantly changed and daylight
penetrates the relatively shallow waters, providing energy for food
sources. Benthic ecology experts estimate these ecosystems will return to
current levels within a decade of the sediment extraction. We expect our
proposed operations to have little, if any, negative impact on existing
commercial fishing rights with regard to quota value, downstream

business or fish stock sustainability. Operating distance restrictions are
for safety reasons and are only around the immediate area of operations
and vessels and not the entire permit area.’ Adapted with minor edits
from [15, 16] on the assumption of fair use.

At this point you should familiarise yourself with the above section Māori
worldviews or consult the more extensive reference:
Ruckstuhl, K., et al., Kā Rūnaka expectations for oil and gas companies in East
Otago. 2017, PO Box 446 Dunedin 9054: Kāi Tahu ki Otago Ltd.

Identify the bicultural implications for the Moana Hydra firm. In your answer:
a) Identify the relevant Treaty of Waitangi principles and implications for
this situation.
b) Anticipate the values likely to be important to Kāi Tahu, and how the
iwi would probably like to be involved in the decision process.
c) Using a flowchart (any format), identify the activities and work streams
that may be necessary for Moana Hydra to undertake to get agreement
from the iwi. You do not need to include the resource consent process.
d) Apply the Bridge cultural impact assessment method.

Napier Port expansion
What is the connection between the following two photographs?

The port at Napier, New Zealand. Image D Pons.

A statue of Pania at Napier, New Zealand. Image D Pons.

The connection is ‘Pania of the reef’. The statue is of Pania (you should look up
the story), and the reef is the fishing ground. The reef had to be blown up to
make the port.

The port now wishes to further expand its operations to accommodate cruise
ships. This will involve destroying more of the reef, and deepening and
widening the ship channels.

1. Conduct a cultural impact assessment using the Bridge or other method.
2. How would you recommend the port company (which is at least partly
privately owned) approach this?

Gods of tomorrow?
This question concerns an article of the same title from New Scientist 15
August 2015 p42-43, wherein Regina Peldszus reviews two books about
societal fears about technology: ‘Machines of Loving Grace’ by John Markoff,
and ‘A Dangerous Master’ by Wendell Wallach.
‘It turns out that the two camps roughly subscribe to either automating
humans away, or assisting them by augmenting their capabilities. The
deep rift is epitomised by the debate on crewed versus robotic space
exploration: even if you decide in favour of an astronaut, should she or
he be an active supervisor or a passive passenger? … Will we become the
servants of the technologies we create?... Both books contain urgent
calls to consciously embed our values in the systems we design’.

THE BOSS? Albert HUBO is a life-size walking robot, with voice recognition and
the ability to make hand gestures. Photo by David Hanson Dayofid CC BY 2.5

(a) Explain the basis for societal fears about technology.

(b) Describe the ethical considerations for design of robots.

(c) Explain the possible adverse consequences for society for one of the
following technologies: 3D printing, nuclear power, nano engineering,
or robotic surgery.
 Identify the potential worldviews for three different groups in society.
These groups could be gender, age, or cultural, or any other
categorisation you deem relevant.
 Analyse each group with a cultural impact assessment.

Bottled water
What are socially acceptable uses for water? Assume you work for a consulting
engineering firm, and you have a client who owns some bush-clad land on the
West coast of New Zealand and wants to intensify its use. The client is thinking
of some options: clear the land and set up sheep farming; clear, irrigate &
fertilise and set up dairy farming; build a water bottling plant and export
bottled water.

Investigate the options by finding and examining articles (newspapers are a

good place to start). As a starter read this:

Outputs: Write a report for the client in which you summarise your findings
(cite your sources), Analyse the situation with the Bridge method, and
Compose a communication plan for the best option.

15 Closing comment
Tēnā koutou katoa
Ko Hurunui te awa
Ko Pākehā te iwi
He mema tohunga wetepanga ahau ki te Ao Rangahau
He kaiwhakaako ahau ki te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha
He Te Amo Pūkaha ahau ki te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha
Ko Dirk Pons tōku ingoa
Nō reira, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā tātou katoa.

This korero is addressed to all those whose actions and decisions affect the
fabric of society.

Chief of these, though not the only, are the engineers. History shows that
innovations in technology have always shaped the past. They will do the future

These professionals have the ability to level mountains, dig out minerals
kilometres below the surface of the land or sea, create structures that are
visible from orbit, devise machines that can cross the length of the land in
minutes, process chemicals that could wipe out all life, and create devices that
work quicker than the human mind. Society has benefited, but it has often also
paid a price. And those adverse costs are sometimes distributed
asymmetrically or disproportionate to the ability to carry them. Benefits of
technological innovation have sometimes flowed to commercial firms, and
detriments been left to society.

For professionals with that power, there is also the ethical responsibility to use
it to the benefit of society. In that regard many of the kaupapa in the Treaty of
Waitangi and te reo Māori are relevant to today – do not make the mistake of
considering them merely historical oddities or irrelevant myths. I encourage all
professionals to look closely at the kaupapa of kaitiakitanga, and he tangata, in
particular. You will find that they correspond exactly to ethical principles of
environmental stewardship, and health and safety, respectively. There are
many other principles with similar relevance: rahui, tapu, korero, to name a

Professionals in medicine and allied health understand these kaupapa better
than engineers. Yet engineers have the greater power to adversely affect

Therefore I encourage professionals, from all fields, to embrace the past, titiro
whakamuri, including the principles and kaupapa of the Treaty. That includes
accepting wholeheartedly that restitution is necessary for the injustices done
to tangata whenua post 1840. But, we must not fall into complacency of
outsourcing our personal duty to the government, or Waitangi Tribunal.

Instead we should be putting our personal agency into making a difference

where we can. That means making decisions and recommendations that shape
the future, whakarite ināianei, hei hāngai whakamua, in ways that are positive
to society and coherent with the worldviews expressed in the Treaty.

Text Te Papa Museum, Image D Pons.

Embracing the past involves a willingness to learn what the past contains,
forgiveness rather than resentment, and openness to changing own ways of
doing things. Tēnā koe e hoa te Māori, you already know all this, and have
been patient for many years. Thank you for reaching out. Now it is time for
individual Pākehā professionals and decision-makers to make a difference
around themselves.

Shaping the future involves personal agency: the willingness to commit our
own will-power to actually perform an action.

Irrespective of how weak we perceive the light of our own candle, leadership is
making change where we can.

Ngā manaakitanga



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