• is an integrative process to deliver the range of opportunities sought by whanau
  • Uses a range of tools – including those developed by Maori for Maori
  • Uses as a baseline the historic state of the takiwa
  • Bases iwi resource management on how much alteration is acceptable to iwi
  • Identifies flow preferences
  • Identifies restoration priorities
  • Identifies the pressures we need to address
  • Uses knowledge held within hapu to shape attributes, measures, indicators
  • Lets us link with others who can help us.

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STAGE 1: Mapping the cultural association

Whanau, hapu and iwi are already documenting values – e.g.

  • Cultural Values Reports
  • Oral histories
  • Resource inventories etc.

The intent of COMAR is to look at how this information can inform resource management more effectively.  The “COM” in COMAR therefore refers to cultural opportunity mapping.

This stage promotes a participatory mapping process so that values are given a spatial context.

STAGE 2: Mapping the opportunities sought

This requires whanau to add a layer to the map which will give it a pro-active or future focus.   Given the values described and mapped whanau and hapu are to identify the opportunities they want to see provided.

When these two tasks are completed we have site specific data about whanau and hapu aspirations – what they want to see on the ground – that can form the basis of discussions with managers what we want

STAGE 3: Concept mapping

A concept map is useful in understanding how whanau see the situation.  What issues do they believe impact those opportunities sought by whanau?    What causes those issues? 

A concept map ties together a lot of information on one page.  It is your view of the world which with investigation could be proven to be incorrect.

A related exercise is to understand how the wahi taonga identified by whanau are dependent on environmental conditions, such as flow or aquatic health.

It is useful for structuring and visualising information.


STEP 4: SCALE OF CHANGEIn parallel with working through the COMAR process, it is advantageous for whanau to understand and document the scale of change experienced across their takiwa. From this they can establish baselines.  

  •  Whanau and hapu have a unique perspective on alteration of their takiwa, including hydrological alteration
  • Our baseline is the historic condition of our takiwa
  • Our management is based on how much alteration from that state is acceptable and how much of the alteration we want to reverse via restoration and enhancement.
  • Use spatial data that is recorded in the previous steps, we can list of changes and describe their scale

From these we can identify your

  •       “No more change” areas.
  •        Maybe some change – if these concerns are mitigated
  •        Likely that some change will be acceptable
  •       These could become your categories for activities in statutory plans


The “A” in COMAR refers to assessments.  Whanau and hapu already undertake a range of assessments – CIAs, Cultural Health Index, Cultural Indicators of Wetlands, State of Takiwa, Fishing Surveys etc .

  • But it is often in response to others.
  • This step is intended to transition whanau from being reactive to proactive 

STAGE 5: Undertaking assessments

  • We need to structure assessments to serve our purpose

We need to know –

  •         Are the cultural opportunities that we want to see delivered (that we mapped in Stage 2) actually being provided?
  •         If not, why not?

(see templates for recording forms)


The “R” in COMAR refers to responses.   Because the intent is to move whanau and hapu to a reactive position, the responses that are to be implemented are those that deliver opportunities sought by whanau.


STEP 6: Plans are developed to implement the responses that whanau believe will deliver the opportunities sought.

At this stage it is also necessary to consider the capacities within the hapu to implement.

It is also at this stage that the whanau may seek to identify other partners that could help deliver the opportunities they are seeking

STEP 7: Monitoring is therefore focused on

  • Is the response being implemented – process focussed
  • Is the opportunity sought by whanau being delivered – outcome focussed?
  • How is the state of the takiwa impacted.

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