Oranga (wellbeing)

Mātauranga Māori based solutions for kauri dieback and myrtle rust 

At A Glance:

Māori worldviews are essential for establishing priorities and allowing the co-production of knowledge in response to threats to taonga rākau (treasured tree) species.

In the fight against kauri dieback and myrtle rust, Māori have been seeking solutions that call on their knowledge systems and understandings of the physical and meta-physical elements of the universe. This includes solutions embedded in the spiritual dimensions of this knowledge, that are vital to the protection and enhancement of the natural environment. These are often overlooked, or at worst subjugated, by conventional environmental management practices and the Western science knowledge that underpins its decision-making.

Te mauri o te rakau, te mauri o te ngahere, te mauri o te tangata: Mātauranga Māori based solutions for kauri dieback and myrtle rust is a suite of kaupapa Māori projects that aim to restore the collective health of trees, forests and people. The team will do this by connecting to, and resourcing, Māori communities and their environmental knowledge holders to explore solutions embedded in mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge).

These projects are unashamedly indigenous and will collectively show how mātauranga-led research can contribute to contemporary biosecurity issues, while addressing the aspirations of Māori and their communities.


Dr Valance Smith

Ngāpuhi, Waikato, Ngāti Haina, Ngāti Pākehā

Auckland University of Technology

Melanie Mark-Shadbolt

Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāti Porou, Te Arawa, Te Āti Awa, Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāti Tūwharetoa 

Te Tira Whakamātaki, BioHeritage Challenge, Ministry for the Environment


Te Mauri consists of four research projects, some with several subprojects. These projects are agile enough to respond to environmental change as well as community aspirations.

1. Tihei Kauri ora: Rongoā solutions for kauri dieback

This project will explore the link between tohorā (sperm whales) and kauri. Researchers will investigate how rongoā (traditional medicine) approaches and the tohorā microbiome may help in the fight against kauri dieback.

2. Te Reo o te Waonui a Tāne (the language of the domain of Tāne)

This project will look at the soundscape of kauri forests – what a healthy forest sounds like and which sounds could be introduced to improve ngahere (forest) health.

3. Rakau Hauora: Hapū solutions for myrtle rust

This research will focus on behavioural changes of wild taonga (treasured) plants as they respond to myrtle rust (such as unexpected flowering), mātauranga Māori based solutions for myrtle rust, and mātauranga surveillance tools.

4. Te mana motuhake a ngā kākano

This project is focusing on working with experienced kaitiaki and seed storage programmes/organisations such as the Department of Conservation, Botanical Gardens Australia and New Zealand Inc, Kew Gardens, and the Australian Seed Bank. Together they are examining how traditional knowledge can equally contribute to the seed storage processes, and how hapū can build seed conservation resilience.

Upcoming Activities:

  • Seed Conservation wānanga conversations are being held, via webinars, with Te Tira Whakamātaki ambassadors and kaitiaki in April 2020.  
  • Myrtle rust wānanga/webinar is scheduled to be held in April with Te Tira Whakamātaki ambassadors and kaitiaki. This webinar will be made available online as a permanent resource.

Updated April 2020

Research Partners

Te Tira Whakamātaki

Iwi, hapū and whānau

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