A Maori boy holding a fish by the beach

Developing innovations that enable Māori to participate as partners in marine management, provide for the practice of tikanga/Māori custom, and support economic growth


This project is examining the mātauranga (knowledge) associated with the marine environment by examining key Māori texts, and reviewing all historical archives, literature, reports, and legislation that highlights Māori perspectives of, and connection to, the sea and our waterways.

This is New Zealand's first Māori-led research using science methodology. It is co-designed, facilitated by Tiakina Te Taiao in partnership with Cawthron Institute. Our aim is to develop a culturally-relevant pathway to enable Māori to evaluate and contribute to ecosystem-based management (EBM) tools and processes, while supporting mana whenua iwi to practice kaitiakitanga (guardianship).

The Māori research team will work collaboratively with local kaitiaki and participating hapū to: (i) review Western science literature in domains relating to marine ecology, spatial planning, real-time monitoring and aquaculture to (ii) identify, prioritise and validate areas of relevance and possible data/knowledge gaps while (iii) mediating the transfer of approaches, frameworks and tools to frontline kaitiaki via the development of an online training programme and resource centre.

We are investigating how mātauranga and tikanga Māori (Māori knowledge and custom) and New Zealand's state laws can be applied to our marine estate so that they are mutually beneficial. In addition, we will explore how those laws could evolve to reflect the best values and concepts of both of our founding peoples.

Our aim in this project is to co-develop and produce research on 21st century Māori governance jurisdiction models, frameworks and best practices, to support EBM for our marine resources that is consistent with Māori tikanga (custom) and mātauranga (knowledge).

The Māori Marine Economy: Ka Mua Ka Muri

This project has two main points of focus. First, to identify and examine the multiple economic interests held by Māori in our marine environment, and the value they hold specifically for Māori both in financial and non-financial terms. Second, to identify and analyse examples of Māori groups and organisations that are using mātauranga Māori to guide and/or implement distinctive products, processes, systems and services.

Latest news and updates

Job opportunity: Senior Communications Advisor (1.0 FTE)

We're looking for a great all-rounder who's interested in using their exceptional science communications and outreach skills to help tackle a critical environmental science challenge facing the nation.

Job opportunity: Challenge Manager (0.5 FTE)

Looking for an exciting opportunity to apply your scientific background and management abilities to a critical environmental science challenge facing the nation?

New resource: Understanding kaitiakitanga in our marine environment

This publicly-available report examines mātauranga associated with the marine environment, and explores themes and why they are important to consider in decision-making. It also indexes the reference sources of this varied mātauranga, and signposts where to go for further detail.