The planning process for stormwater infrastructure includes an assessment of the net costs and benefits of different project options. The standard approaches, cost benefit and multicriteria analysis, respectively quantify the costs and benefits arising from a project, and capture some of the qualitative benefits that are difficult to capture in dollar terms. However, standard approaches can underestimate environmental and cultural benefits as these are hard to quantify. Further, multicriteria analysis does not typically consider the unique cultural context of Aotearoa. Therefore the true value of projects with significant environmental and cultural benefits may not be captured.
The Auckland Council Stormwater Department has trialed the Mauri Model Decision Making Framework, developed by Dr Kepa Morgan of the University of Auckland, to complement cost benefit and multicriteria analysis. The Mauri Model assesses project options in terms of their impacts on mauri, which is the binding force between spiritual and physical attributes, or the life force or capacity to sustain life in the air, soil and water. Mauri is a meaningful metric as it encompasses each of the economic, social, cultural and environmental wellbeing dimensions described in the Resource Management Act. It is also a concept that has resonance with mana whenua and Aotearoa’s cultural environment.
This paper describes the development of a stormwater-specific Mauri Model assessment tool which was trialed on a number of stormwater infrastructure projects. The output from the tool and feedback from Stormwater Department project engineers and Auckland mana whenua are also discussed.
The Auckland Council Stormwater Department considers that while a cost benefit analysis provides a useful dollar value output, the Mauri Model in addition provides a more balanced analysis of net benefits than the traditional approach, and will support ongoing engagement with mana whenua throughout project planning and delivery.