Te Tira Whakamātaki – Māori Biosecurity, protecting our taonga for future generations

Project commenced:

Our main question is ‘do hapū and Iwi  views  and practices provide an alternative paradigm to New Zealand’s biosecurity system to better protect our taonga species?

Māori have developed practices and methods such as the use of ritenga (customs, laws, and protocols) and whakapapa (species assemblages within a holistic ecosystem paradigm) to mitigate risks and threats to both endemic biodiversity and primary production systems from pests, weeds and pathogens. However, the 21st century has seen a rapid increase in species introductions to New Zealand, with dramatic consequences for both Māori livelihoods and cultural integrity.

Our research focuses on expanding and evolving research initiatives that have developed from the successfully funded “Establishing a National Maori Biosecurity Network” which was designed to bring together Māori involved in protecting our biological resources from biosecurity risks and threats. Specifically we have chosen to focus on one main research question, that is “do hapū and iwi views and practices provide an alternative paradigm to Aotearoa New Zealand’s biosecurity system to better protect our taonga species?”

We will explore what biosecurity means for Māori including the impacts of climate change; key socio-ecological links for community resilience and opportunities for the inclusion of mātauranga for mitigating and managing impacts from unwanted organisms. We will use this scoping exercise to survey and interview Māori communities in order to understand their biosecurity attitudes, beliefs and practices, and to identify common key socio-ecological links around tree disease and dieback in order to advance our understanding and application of indigenous knowledge in biosecurity management so that we have the ability to scope a larger more internationally reaching project that compares attitudes, beliefs and practices across a number of Pacific indigenous communities.

  1. Conducted extensive survey in collaboration with the Department of Conservation
  2. Held focus groups and wānanga to inform attitudes to biosecurity strategies
  3. Drafted publication out for review
  4. Shared and discussed results and strategies with Māori biosecurity network.

Research Lead(s) and Team

Tūhoe Whakatōhea Whānau-ā-Apanui
Lecturer / Māori Kaihautū

Amanda’s research expertise is in environmental soil and water chemistry, focusing on major nutrient cycling, including the incorporation of molecular techniques to explore the relationship between functional gene expression and soil product activity.

Ngāti Porou Te Arawa Te Ātiawa Ngāti Raukawa Ngāti Tūwharetoa
Māori Research Manager
Bio-Protection Research Centre

Melanie is an Indigenous environmental sociologist, and the Māori Research Manager – Kaiārahi for the Bio-Protection Research Centre (a Centre of Research Excellence) based at Lincoln University.