Master of Bicultural Co-Governance of Natural Resources*


Around the world, there is a growing recognition of the rights of indigenous people to access and govern their natural resources. In many countries, this recognition has led to development of co-governance approaches, where differing groups seek to govern together in a collaborative manner. 

To support the growing use of co-governance approaches, we need to prepare culturally aware graduates with strong analytical and strong interpersonal skills, who can identify the limitation in our current ways of working, and then work in a collaborative manner, to break down barriers in process and to enact change. 

Students of the Masters of Bicultural Co-Governance of Natural Resources (MBCNR) will develop a deep understanding of the complex relationships between the multiple stakeholders in natural resources. This course will also develop consultation skills, bicultural awareness, project management, and knowledge of conservation and co-governance policy. 

This new taught Master’s programme has a particular focus on New Zealand, reflecting the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi. It will also draw on material from a selection of Pacific Island nations. Students will critically examine external treaty responsibilities and relevant cultural relationships globally. 

Why study an MBCNR at UC? 

  • UC is ranked in the top 150 universities in the world for Geography (QS World University Rankings by Subject, 2017).
  • The MBCNR is the only master’s degree in New Zealand that addresses bicultural law along with co-governance of environmental resource. 
  • The programme maintains strong connections with iwi partners and practitioners, and with government bodies in the Pacific, such as the Kingdom of Tonga. 
  • Students will have access to UC’s extensive collection of New Zealand and Pacific literature within the Macmillan Brown Library, containing original historical artefacts from the arrival of European settlers in the region.

* Subject to Universities New Zealand CUAP approval, due December 2017.

Entry requirements

Normally the minimum requirement is a three-year bachelor’s degree from a New Zealand university, or a qualification or combination of qualifications considered to be equivalent. 

If you gained your qualifications overseas, these will need to be assessed to make sure they are of an equivalent standard.

Qualification specific requirements

Students should have achieved at least a B average in 300-level courses in their undergraduate degree, or have three years of professional experience in resource management or the governance sector, with approval from the Head of Geography. 

For the full entry requirements see the Regulations for the Master of Bicultural Co-Governance of Natural Resources or use the admission requirements checker. 

You are also required to meet UC’s English language requirements.

Qualification structure and duration

The MBCNR includes 180 points of coursework, including one 60-point dissertation. This can be completed in 12 months of full-time study or 36 months part-time. 

Students can begin the programme in February. 

Subjects and courses

The MBCNR includes compulsory courses and an optional course, and a dissertation. Students can choose one of three courses on either the policy making process, governance in New Zealand and the Pacific, or environmental science policies.

Compulsory courses:

Plus one of the following courses (dependant on Semester 1 offering):


How to apply

Find out how to apply for graduate and postgraduate qualifications.

Further study

UC offers a variety of postgraduate options to further study in cultural, environmental and international policy.

Career opportunities

Graduates’ knowledge of bicultural policies and land ownership, as well as their facilitation and communication skills, will assist government and professional organisations in their efforts to negotiate the complex social and political issues around resource use. 

MBCNR graduates can find employment within government ministries, not-for-profit organisations, as well as business and sectors utilising natural resources, such as the renewable energy, fishery, forestry, agriculture, mining and land development industries. Research and innovation centres also need ongoing support building relationships with local iwi and other indigenous groups for access to field data.

They may also find their skills useful within international governance bodies that are continuously renegotiating indigenous and minority resource rights, such as in Australia, Canada and the USA.

More information

For full requirements see the Regulations for the Master of Bicultural Co-Governance of Natural Resources.

For study planning help contact the Department of Geography or the College of Science:

College of Science | Te Rāngai Pūtaiao
University of Canterbury | Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha
Private Bag 4800
Christchurch 8140
New Zealand

Phone +64 3 369 4141
Email collegeofscience@canterbury.ac.nz