Manea Sweeney is well qualified to determine the strategic direction for Tonkin + Taylor's Planning Team and lead this dynamic discipline into a fast-evolving future.
Manea specialises in complex, multi-disciplinary infrastructural and public works projects across New Zealand and the Pacific. She is fluent in Te Reo Māori (Māori language) and is skilled in Māori cultural values. She has become a trusted and effective advisor to her clients because she is able to bring a deep understanding of Māori practices & protocols and is able to engage effortlessly with mana whenua (the people of the land).
Her experience spans the spectrum of Resource Management Act (RMA) planning and management of resources including, RMA scoping studies, consenting strategies, Notice of Requirements, Alterations to Designations, Environmental Impact Assessments and policy analysis. Manea has presented expert planning evidence and cultural consultation evidence at Council hearings and in the High Court.
Manea knows her understanding of Te Reo and tikanga Māori has helped her professionally, particularly in assisting and understanding clients’ needs.
“Like all clients, iwi organisations just want the 'best person' for the job. I find being fluent in Te Reo helps me to build rapport quickly with Māori clients and understanding Tikanga Māori means that I understand Māori clients’ values and drivers.”
Manea acknowledges that this approach has enabled her to work closely with a wide range of stakeholders from community to government on consenting and policy projects.
“I’m also able to ‘translate’ complex engineering speak in a way that is valuable to iwi (tribal organisations) by drawing out matters that are the most important to them. I work in a lot of situations where I am opening and closing meetings and facilitating workshops. I feel that growing up with a strong sense of culture and who I am, helps enormously.’’
“My mum is an early childhood education teacher and was instrumental in the Kōhanga Reo movement in the early 1990s, so we spoke Te Reo at home, but mainly as learning.”
“I was in a Kōhanga Reo in Christchurch, attended a bilingual primary school and a total immersion intermediate. I went to a mainstream college (Epsom Girls Grammar) but studied Te Reo all the way through and did university papers in Māori in my last two years there.”
Manea has led the consent acquisition and consultation of a number of complex consenting projects in coastal, road, rail, water, wastewater, natural hazards and energy areas on behalf of industry, local and central government and iwi clients.
Manea uses her specialist RMA planning and training expertise through the International Public Participation Association (IAP2) to develop and implement tailored communication plans within project communities, as well as leading stakeholder engagement and consultation for large projects.
Manea has a BSc, a PGDipSci and an MSc (Hons) and is a full member of the New Zealand Planning Institute and Resource Management Law Association of New Zealand.