Mediation is a process to resolve disputes. People get together with the help of a mediator to isolate issues, develop options, consider alternatives, and reach an agreement everyone can live with, rather than a court or other formal body imposing a settlement on them.

Mediation should not be considered an easy option. You will need to work hard and be willing to compromise.

Mediation can help parties ‘get unstuck’ from the stalemate of their dispute. It is an alternative to traditional methods of resolving disputes, like going to court. Parties work together to find solutions by looking at their interests, rather than focusing on their ‘legal rights’.

Mediation allows people to explain how they see the problem and how they feel about it. Initial discussion at mediated meetings focuses on what people value and need, rather than the positions they may hold or what they demand. By taking a step back from those positions, parties can share and gain an understanding of each other’s opinions and the values that underlie their attitudes to particular disputes. In this way, people can take a fresh look at a dispute.

The principles of mediation are closely related to those of manaaki, which recognises the values that all parties bring to the table, and allows them to treat each other and their ideas with respect. As mediation takes a face‑to-face, consensus approach, it also sits comfortably with Māori decision-making processes.

Advantages of mediation

  • Mediation has high success rates. It is often a very good opportunity to define the issues that concern all parties, and sometimes to resolve differences.
  • Parties often develop and agree on creative, constructive, achievable, workable, and mutually acceptable solutions.
  • Mediation can be much cheaper and far more satisfying than litigation or arbitration. It often eliminates any need for formal court appearances.
  • Even if mediation doesn’t result in agreement, the process of isolating issues and agreeing undisputed facts can be helpful if an appeal has to be heard by the Environment Court.
  • Mediated discussions often help build confidence and restore happier relationships, as well as resolving the issues at hand.

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