Symposium gives voice to the ocean

Waves on the beach. Credit: Dave Allen, NIWA

In early October Te Paepae o Tangaora Oceans Symposium was held in Te Tairāwhiti (Gisborne). The Ocean Speaks meeting was a chance to kōrero about the challenges facing Te Moananui a Kiwa – the Pacific Ocean.

During the symposium kaitiaki, scientists, voyagers and environmental leaders from Aotearoa and the wider Pacific explored their relationships with the ocean’s past, present and future.

Ian Ruru, a member of the Sustainable Seas Kāhui Māori, was one of 13 local speakers carrying the kōrero for Te Tairāwhiti. Ian has a scientific background in marine and freshwater fisheries and gained his appreciation for mātauranga Māori from his father, the late Bill Ruru, as they taught qualifications in aquaculture and customary fishing at 300 marae. Challenge researchers also presented at the symposium, and although not limited to speaking about their Challenge projects, their messages incorporated insights gathered through that research.

“Many of the presenters and participants shared messages and learnings from both here and across the Pacific that aligned and resonated with much of our research in the Challenge,” says Linda Faulkner, Manahautū (Deputy Director Māori) for Sustainable Seas.

“The presentations and narratives reflected the growing urgency of conversation about the need to reinvigorate a more meaningful relationship with the moana, and the value and insight to be gained from our collective indigenous voices across the Pacific and beyond.”

Sessions started ‘in place’ providing narratives and historical reflections from Te Tairāwhiti, before extending more broadly to an Aotearoa New Zealand context and to initiatives and research underway amongst our Pacific neighbours.  The symposium’s last day focused on the life of the ocean, as atua and ancestor, and how this might be reflected in systems of governance.

The symposium was organised by Moananui, a community engagement initiative led by Te Hā Trust, in partnership with the traditional voyaging community in Aotearoa. It is also supported by UNESCO, Ngā Pae o Te Māramatanga and Lotteries Environment and Heritage.

Find out more

E-Tangata contributor Kennedy Warne was one of the speakers in a session on indigenous environmental knowledge. Check out his article on E-Tangata