Whai Rawa, Whai Mana, Whai Oranga: Creating a world-leading indigenous blue economy

Whalewatch Kaikōura. © Sarah Orme, New Zealand Story

We are working to create a foundation for a world-leading indigenous blue economy in Aotearoa New Zealand.                                              

Project Leader: Dr Jason Mika, Massey University and Dr John Reid, University of Canterbury 

Duration: February 2018 – June 2019 
Budget: $500,000 
Status: Ongoing 

Māori businesses are on track to be the largest commercial interest in Aotearoa New Zealand fisheries. Māori also have growing customary property rights and governing authority in the management of marine areas. We want to explore regulatory and policy tools to embed mātauranga Māori in sustainable commercial and customary fishing activities. 

In this project, we are examining existing models and frameworks of mātauranga Māori used in the management of the marine ecosystem and economy.  We are analysing hapū and iwi approaches to integrated management and identifying the structures and operating principles of Māori marine organisations.  

Our research aims to:  

  • Identify policy and regulatory tools that foster marine ecosystem and economic management, and reflect Māori knowledge systems, values frameworks and operating principles 

  • Develop kaitiaki business models that embed Māori commercial activity within sustainable ecosystem processes 

  • Integrate kaitiaki business models with frameworks for the development of sustainability tracing and authentication systems that will capture premium for Māori marine products 

  • Support the commercialisation, extension or adoption of Māori marine management ideas, processes, and products that support economic and ecological development for marine resources and communities.

Literature review  

In this literature review the research team has examined over 150 articles and reports to distil the five key factors that will drive growth of the Māori marine economy:

  • the continued development of Māori customary rights;
  • integration of hapū and whanau into iwi and pan iwi economic activity;
  • an integrated value chain where as many elements as possible are owned by Māori;
  • branding and marketing that is inspired by hapū and iwi stories, symbols and designs which communicate their whakapapa and connection to tipuna and whenua;
  • that provenance and authentication and traceability are communicated to the consumer in a way that is grounded in tikanga Māori.

The research team welcome feedback on the literature review (below).  They plan to publish an updated version at the end of the project. Contact Frances White at Massey University F.K.White@massey.ac.nz  with any feedback before the end of February 2019.


Dr Mika is the Director of Te Au Rangahau (the Maori Business and Leadership Centre) at  Massey University.  Dr Mika was recently interviewed on Māori Television -  Maori enterprise – awakening the Taniwha  You can also listen to Dr Mika discuss his research on the Massey University Youtube channel

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