Freshwater for our Taonga

Te Tiriti-led research looking at how we can enable our freshwater taonga to thrive.


The inventory of research outputs and resources can be found here:

Freshwater for our Taonga

This research is Active
Left to right: Mollie Lyders (Hokonui Rūnanga), Tāne Tāmati (Hokonui Rūnanga), Helen Warburton (University of Canterbury), Jane Kitson (Kitson Consulting), Matt Wylie (Plant & Food Research), Riki Parata (Hokonui Rūnanga), Tane Tamati (Hokonui Rūnanga), Aisling Rayne (Cawthron Institute).

Overview Te Tirohanga Whānui

The state of our freshwater continues to decline around the country. While many research programmes look at how to reverse this trend using attributes of the waterway (riparian planting, stream contour etc.), few are investigating the role of living components of the restoration process – many of which are taonga species.

To enable our native species to thrive, BioHeritage has invested in Te Tiriti o Waitangi-led research that promises to marry traditional knowledge and new, cutting-edge research. Both kaupapa Māori-led projects build on existing work and relationships and aim to refine and accelerate research and management outcomes determined at place by respective whānau, hapū and iwi.

Research Area Summary Te Whakarāpopototanga Kaupapa

Freshwater for our Taonga interweaves themes of improved restoration outcomes and enhanced mauri/health of Tuna and Kanakana/Piharau across three aligned research areas:

Te Karanga o Ngā Tuna – Mana Whakahaere in Action explores ground-up multi-iwi collaborative local aspirations and solutions to protect, restore, and enhance Tuna for the benefit of the Tuna and future generations in the Waikato and Waipaa catchment. Waikato-Tainui is the host entity, supporting a collective of Waikato/Waipa Catchment River Iwi and haapu undertaking the work.

The voice of taonga species, using an indicator species (kanakana/piharau) for reversing the decline of mahinga kai seeks to connect current freshwater research and mahi conducted by Hokonui Rūnanga and others with interests in kanakana to provide a pathway to future research, monitoring, and restoration of Mahika kai kanakana. Hokonui Rūnanga and Kitson Consulting are the host entities.

Centering biotic interactions in freshwater restoration advances knowledge of biotic interactions in freshwater restoration, thereby identifying effective actions for species recovery. This research area complements both kaupapa Māori-led research areas through frameworks that address key ecological and social barriers to restoration success and will recommend tools/actions for more successful future restoration outcomes. University of Canterbury / Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha is the host entity.

Highlights Ngā Mahi Whakahirahira

Wānanga on piharau (kanakana) in New Plymouth

Ngāti Tāwhirikura in New Plymouth hosted Hokonui Rūnanga kaupapa Taiao kamahi and Jane Kitson at a wānanga on piharau (kanakana) in July. We shared information on the piharau life cycle and biology, monitoring methods, and management implementation pathways. Ngāti Tāwhirikura shared their history, stories, and restoration mahi, particularly focussing on the Waiwhakaiho River, the large ringplain river which radiates from Te Papakura of Taranaki, flowing through agricultural and industrial land, and New Plymouth, before reaching the Tasman Sea. At the wānanga, Hokonui demonstrated how to install eDNA passive samplers.

World Water Week in Stockholm

Erina Watene attended World Water Week in Stockholm in August as an invited speaker, alongside indigenous colleagues from the Australian Water Partnership. World Water Week is the leading conference on global water issues, attracting a diverse mix of participants from many professional backgrounds and every corner of the world to develop solutions to the world’s greatest water-related challenges.

Erina co-presented on Indigenous Peoples management and governance of water resources. Among her three oral presentations, Erina talked about the Waikato/Waipa Catchment River Iwi and haapu (Maniapoto, Waikato-Tainui, Raukawa, Ngāti Koroki Kahukura) research programme Te Karanga o Ngā Tuna – Mana Whakahaere in Action and their important work identifying and implementing iwi-led tuna management aspirations through the development of Te Oranga o ngaa Tuna.

First Nations people cultural and knowledge exchange on lamprey

Hokonui Rūnanga kaimahi (Riki Parata and Mollie Lyders) and Ngāi Tahu scientist (Dr Matthew Wylie from the New Zealand Institute for Plant & Food Research) travelled to the USA in May to meet with community members from the Yakama Nation and the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla of Washington and Oregon. The lands of the Yakama once extended in all directions from the lowlands around the Columbia River to the snow-peaked Cascade Mountains. The Confederated Tribes have been working on fish restoration on the Umatilla and Grande Ronde rivers for more than a decade.

May is when the Pacific lamprey (Entosphenus tridentatus) spawn, providing an ideal opportunity for the team to learn about artificial propagation of Pacific lamprey. They were fortunate to get hands-on experience and gain knowledge of keeping adult lamprey in captivity, collecting eggs and sperm from sexually mature adults, and how to fertilise these artificially. They also learnt different techniques for rearing larvae.

Relationship-building and broader knowledge exchange were also important aspects of their visit – particularly, the understanding of the ‘First Foods’ and the cultural significance of lamprey to the Umatilla and Yakama people. Read the Bio Heritage newsletter article here.

Co-leads Ngā kaiārahi ngātahi

Jane Kitson Edited

Jane Kitson

Jane Kitson

Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Mamoe, Waitaha
Kitson Consulting Ltd
Bioheritage Staff Erina Watene Rawiri

Erina Watene

Erina Watene

Waikato-Tainui, Ngāti Maniapoto and Ngāi Te Rangi
Helen Warburton

Helen Warburton

Helen Warburton

University of Canterbury
Bioheritage Staff Kerri Anne Edge

Kerri-Anne Edge

Kerri-Anne Edge

Edge Effect

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