The New Zealand Urban Design Protocol (UDP) was published by the Ministry for the Environment in March 2005. It was recognised that a clear Māori voice and meaningful involvement in the creation of the UDP had been absent, and that the process undertaken in the development of the protocols did not adequately engage with Māori interests. In response to this lack of consultation, and with the support of the Ministry for the Environment and Te Puni Kōkiri, a hui of Māori professionals working across the design disciplines, the resource management sector and representatives of iwi/hapū organisations from across Aotearoa/New Zealand gathered first at Waitākere in June 2006 and then in November the same year at Te Aranga Marae in Flaxmere to discuss and formulate a draft National Māori Cultural Landscape Strategy. The resultant Te Aranga Māori Cultural Landscape Strategy represented the first concerted and cohesive effort by Māori to articulate Māori interests and design aspirations in the built environment.
Whilst this forum was originally convened to discuss the challenges faced by Māori in the urban realm, it was clearly expressed that hapū and Iwi rohe encompass all parts of the physical environment and that the term 'urban design' did not resonate with a connected Māori worldview. This fundamental position resulted in the adoption of the term 'Māori cultural landscape' as embracing the landscape in its widest form.
"As Māori we have a unique sense of our cultural landscapes. It includes past present and future. It includes both physical and spiritual dimensions. It is how we express ourselves in our environments, it connects whānau, whenua, awa and moana through whakapapa, it includes both urban and rural, it is not just where we live it is who we are."
A set of seven outcome-oriented design principles emerged from the foundation work of Te Aranga and other projects, including Kaitiakitanga o ngā ngahere pōhatu: Kaitiakitanga of urban settlements (2011), a report commissioned by the Ministry of Science and Innovation that builds on a growing body of research and represents the most comprehensive research completed to date. The report identifies key elements of Mātauranga Māori that can be incorporated into urban planning to allow Māori aspirations to be fulfilled, while also complementing and improving existing urban planning practices.