New Zealand Māori have a comprehensive knowledge system based on extensive natural world interactions resulting in numerous values that underpin their practices.

This is of particular important in the ocean. Māori are involved in multiple marine environmental sectors, such as fisheries, aquaculture, recreation and traditional management. Māori entities must demonstrate to their people how they are operationalising core Māori values, such as kaitiakitanga (reciprocal responsibility of care and protection between people and their place) in their economic ventures.

‘Māori as oceanographers’ is evidenced through a sophisticated navigation system, advanced waka design and construction which enabled and continues to enable current Māori waka to make long-distance, non-instrument voyages across Polynesia. This project provides the opportunity to investigate both ancient and contemporary mātauranga Māori relating to Māori maritime knowledge and traditions.

He Papa Moana

An Ocean Foundation

He Papa Moana is an integral component of the Moana Project, providing a case study that integrates across all the research themes. The He Papa Moana team are developing a cross-cultural ocean-knowledge foundation drawing on ocean observing data, modelling and new technologies. We will explore how to best to exchange ocean knowledge and how to incorporate knowledge from different systems in marine management.  

This knowledge will be applied through a case-study with Whakatōhea in the eastern Bay of Plenty, New Zealand. Whakatōhea have growth aspirations centred on aquaculture.  The knowledge obtained in the other Research Aims will feed into sustainable management of the aquaculture industry.

 Our core research questions are:

  1. How do Māori understand ocean dynamics and connectivity?

  2. How can we create a cross-cultural ocean knowledge exchange platform?

  3. How can we build capacity of Māori as oceanographers?

  4. What is the Whakatōhea rohe moana?

  5. What are potential interests in the Whakatōhea rohe moana?

  6. How can contribute to education resources for iwi members?

  7. How can Iwi rohe moana interests be collated in a useful planning tool?

  8. How might ocean dynamics, marine heat waves, their impact on larval dispersal and genetic connectivity impact Whakatōhea rohe moana interests?

The team are using transdisciplinary methods from kaupapa-Māori, social science, and novel analytical, and digital ocean observing technologies to develop an ocean-knowledge foundation and exchange platform, supporting an iwi marine spatial plan, and an impact assessment tool to inform iwi governance of multi-sector activities in their rohe moana.

The He Papa Moana Team led by A. Prof Maui Hudson at University of Waikato consists of Kimberly Maxwell (Victoria University of Wellington), A. Prof Ocean Mercier (Victoria University of Wellington), Dr Haki Tuaupiki (University of Waikato), Danny Paruru (Whakatōhea). 

25% of our early career scientists are Māori,  including 1 Postdoctoral fellow, 2 PhD students and 1 MSc student.