He Pou Tokomanawa: kaitiakitanga in practice in our marine environment

Close up of hands weaving harakeke

We are developing a culturally-relevant pathway to enable mana whenua iwi to evaluate and contribute to management of Aotearoa New Zealand’s marine environment. 

Project leader: Frank Hippolite, Tiakina Te Taiao

The application and practice of kaitiakitanga has become increasingly difficult for Māori due to growing pressure, exploitation, and cumulative stressors on marine resources. He Pou Tokomanawa is an iwi-led research project, facilitated by Tiakina Te Taiao and in partnership with Cawthron Institute. Our aim is to enable a pathway for mana whenua iwi, to exercise their kaitiaki role over Te Tai-o-Aorere and Mohua (Tasman and Golden Bays). We are contributing to wider ecosystem-based management (EBM) tools unique to New Zealand through a co-designed approach and robust ethics process to draw on mātauranga Māori expertise specific to our case study area.  

We are achieving this by:  

  • Collating multiple mana whenua iwi perspectives, aspirations and priorities; 
  • Exploring mātauranga Māori to restore the cultural context of Te Tai-o-Aorere and Mohua; 
  • Evaluating existing Māori environmental views and models to assist the development of a kaitiakitanga framework; 
  • Working with the wider Sustainable Seas Challenge research community to initiate a marine EBM ‘interface’ process referred to as ‘Te Wheke Hononga’.  

To date, our research has collected information through a series of wānanga with iwi. The wānanga have enabled the research team to establish working relationships with the iwi, to better understand current marine management issues and kaitiaki aspirations in the area. This work will be followed by detailed interviews in late 2018 to enrich and complement material already gathered. 

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