Intellectual Property guidance for Te Urungi participants

Intellectual Property is a legal term for rights that protect expression of ideas. It can include copyright in artistic works, patents for inventions, trademarks, protected designs, and commercially sensitive information. You can find more information on intellectual property on the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand (IPONZ) website at

It is not always a simple question as to what is protected and who has those rights. For example, copyright law protects the expression of ideas, but usually not the idea itself. Mātauranga Māori, and some other forms of traditional knowledge, might not be protected by copyright law but the Crown might still have obligations to protect them under Te Tiriti o Waitangi. Keeping some things confidential might be essential if you are drawing on taonga or mātauranga Māori. In this case, respecting noho matatapu or confidentiality is critical.

How can I protect my intellectual property at Te Urungi events?

While Manatū Taonga cannot give you legal advice, we can give some guidance about good practice, how to be constructive and keep yourself safe at Te Urungi events.

  • While you work through your ideas, only share as much as you are comfortable with other participants. At the end of the event you will have the opportunity to share your idea with the evaluation panel who, among other things, may discuss intellectual property with you. This time with the panel will be confidential.
  • When you share ideas or information, be clear where it has come from.
    • Is it your original work?
    • Is it public knowledge?
    • Do you need anyone’s permission to use it? For example, the kaitiaki or original creator who might have intellectual property rights.
    • Is it confidential? If yes, consider obtaining independent legal advice before sharing in this forum.
  • If you share customary knowledge, taonga, or mātauranga Māori, are there kaitiaki relationships with taonga or mātauranga Māori and underlying economic interests?
    • Are you authorised to share this customary knowledge, taonga, or mātauranga Māori?
    • Kaitiaki relationships are perpetual, so might kaitiaki, whanau, hapū or iwi need to be involved, give prior informed consent and share in the benefits of your proposal?
    • Can others share the customary knowledge, taonga, or mātauranga Māori within and outside Te Urungi?
    • Alternatively, is it a taonga derived work? (see definitions below)
  • If the ideas or information are your existing intellectual property, be clear about why you are sharing it.
    • Are you encouraging other people to use or adapt it?
    • Do they need to include you, or can they take your idea and develop it themselves?
  • Think about whether your proposal will generate new intellectual property (such as a new artwork, collaboration tool, or a new method of creating).
    • Who will own it?
    • Who can use it?
    • Will you generate income from it?
    • What steps will you take to protect it?
  • Consider making a simple agreement in writing with your team members or other collaborators so there are no misunderstandings later. You might record:
    • Who contributed what?
    • How will you work together?
    • Who else should be consulted or involved?
    • Who will own or control any new intellectual property?
  • If you invent something at the event (or you bring an invention to the event that is not already protected by a patent) you should consider seeking independent advice about what to do next. Inventions can be protected by patents, but patents need to be registered and might not be effective if knowledge about the invention becomes publicly available before registration.

Where can I get further information?

Manatū Taonga will have mentors and experts available at the event who can talk through these issues with you and your teams. They cannot give you legal advice and they won’t make decisions for you, but they can give you information and guidance.

If you would like to take independent legal advice at any stage, you might be able to get free legal advice from a community law centre, either individually or as a team. Find out more, and find the community law centre nearest to you here:

Will my project’s intellectual property arrangements affect whether it gets funded?

Safe and robust intellectual property arrangements are critical to the success of cultural sector projects.

The Panel will consider your project’s intellectual property arrangements under the Implementation evaluation category. If you think your project might need formal intellectual property advice, you could include that as part of your proposal.

Will Manatū Taonga have any rights to my idea?

No. Whether or not you are successful in receiving funding, Manatū Taonga will never have rights to any intellectual property you bring to the event or any new intellectual property that you create.


The Waitangi Tribunal uses the following definitions:

Taonga work

…a work, whether or not it has been fixed, that is in its entirety an expression of mātauranga Māori; it will relate to or invoke ancestral connections (whakapapa), and contain or reflect traditional narratives or stories. A taonga work will possess mauri and have living kaitiaki in accordance with tikanga Māori.

Taonga derived work

…derives its inspiration from mātauranga Māori or a taonga work, but does not relate to or invoke ancestral connections (whakapapa), nor contain or reflect traditional narratives or stories, in any direct way. A taonga-derived work is identifiably Māori in nature, but has neither mauri nor living kaitiaki in accordance with tikanga Māori.

This overview document from IPONZ on the types of IP protection is also useful to check out for definitions.

Updated on 18th August 2021