Mātauranga Māori

Mātauranga Māori and ecosystem restoration

Kai Tahu kaitiaki, Craig Pauling, harvesting black swan eggs at Te Waihora. Image - Phil Lyver
Kai Tahu kaitiaki, Craig Pauling, harvesting black swan eggs at Te Waihora. Image - Phil Lyver

Research on the restoration of both inanga (whitebait) and black swan egg harvests is being co-developed with Māori knowledge-holders in our two projects on Ecosystem tipping points and Customary approaches to ecosystem resilience, respectively. The research is being driven by the aspirations of Ngāi Tahu mana whenua to self-authorise the customary management of biodiversity and taonga.

In-kind support from key Ngāi Tahu staff members facilitates the shaping of research priorities by mana whenua and grows relationships with iwi. Co-design of the research provides an important mechanism to restore populations and sustain harvests of mahinga kai, and ultimately facilitates the restoration of interactions between indigenous peoples and their environment, with long-term gains for cultural and biological heritage.

These examples reinforce the view that restoring species or ecosystems often requires a kaupapa Māori approach to ensure appropriate management and assessment of biological heritage, and to sustain intergenerational benefits.

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