He Pou Tokomanawa: kaitiakitanga in practice in our marine environment

Close up of hands weaving harakeke

We developed 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

Duration: May 2017 – July 2019
Budget:  $1,050,000 
Status: Completed

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 was 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 contributed 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 achieved 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’.  

We collected information through a series of wānanga with iwi. The wānanga 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 was followed by detailed interviews in late 2018 to enrich and complement material already gathered.

Final report

This report combines findings drawn from 4 wānanga (gatherings for discussion) and 17 interviews conducted in 2018 across the Tasman and Golden Bay region with whānau (family members) of Ngāti Koata, Ngāti Rārua, Ngāti Tama and Te Ātiawa. It also incorporates discussions from a kotahitanga hui (collective meeting) held at Te Āwhina Marae, Motueka, and the hui whakamutunga (final meeting) of the project team and Kaitohutohu (advisory group members) at the Cawthron Institute in May and June 2019 respectively.

This report is relevant to Māori, scientists, resource management professionals, students and others. We also hope that the documentation of Kaupapa Māori research methodologies is informative and helpful for anyone else who wishes to support similar iwi-led projects.

The  research team has also produced four additional reports: one each for Ngāti Koata, Ngāti Rārua, Ngāti Tama and Te Ātiawa whānau, hapū and iwi, which contain mātauranga (knowledge, understanding) that rightfully belongs with those who contributed to that mahi (work). Whether these reports are shared more widely is for Ngāti Koata, Ngāti Rārua, Ngāti Tama and Te Ātiawa descendants to decide upon. Care has been taken to ensure that any sensitive mātauranga Māori contained in those reports is not included in this publicly accessible one.

News article

Project proposal

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