Rā tuatahi – session one

Following our mihi whakatau, the conference agenda will kick off with introduction and housekeeping from our whakataki (MC) Pahia Turia.

This will be followed by a welcome from our new Chair, Rawiri Faulkner.

Luke is a kaimahi for the Ahurea Taiao group of Ngāti Toa which is dedicated to active protection and stewardship of its streams, harbours, whenua and oceans.

Luke believes that by having the ability to utilise matauranga and western knowledge systems iwi māori are uniquely placed to be the most proficient managers of our taiao. Ahurea Taiao group aim is to set all projects up to support the capacity building of uri whakaheke so they are empowered to be active managers of their whenua and moana for generations to come, so we can continue to strengthen our ability to uphold our obligation to Te Taiao.

This kōrero will focus on a few such projects related to wai māori that help to build that capcaity as well as protect and inform mahinga kai practice and stream health.  

Rā tuatahi – session two

Theresa and Kathryn are descendants of Ngāti Pāhauwera – Theresa is a trustee for the Ngāti Pāhauwera Development Trust, and Kathryn is a staff member managing taiao work.

Ngāti Pāhauwera have been working to protect and restore the environment across our rohe, and our kōrero covers what we have learned over years working in this space across different aspects of wai Māori. These include: providing safe drinking water for rural communities; ngutukaka restoration; monitoring and restoring kākahi and waikōura populations and; managing hornwort in lakes. 

Freshwater management in Aotearoa New Zealand has consistently undermined the mana motuhake of hapū and iwi, while simultaneously failing to maintain the health of freshwater systems. The rohe of Ngā Rauru has been no exception. Popular swimming spots are no longer safe for human contact and freshwater mahinga kai stocks dwindle.

Despite efforts to address this disconnect through policy and tool development, a significant gap remains, efforts unable to manifest the transformative change required in freshwater monitoring and decision-making. In our kōrero we hope to explore our journey to give effect to Ngā Rauru values within freshwater monitoring, highlighting the need for our monitoring to be more so guided by relationships and governance, rather than centring the biophysical measurements produced through these endeavours. 

Lake Tarawera has been fished by local Māori for generations. Kai such as Kōura, Tuna, Kākahi, and watercress, could be found in abundance, at various locations around the Lake and its waterways. Today, threats from pests, pollutants, and the changing environment, have negatively impacted Lake Tarawera’s Kai sustainability. This research explored the reconnection of Tūhourangi people and if they could adequately provide for their whanau, with kai sourced from Lake Tarawera.

The rōpū will kōrero on how they actively weave together mātauranga Māori and science disciplines to improve the hauora of our mahika kai taonga species, with a specific focus on kanakana, an important mahika kai taonga species for Murihiku whānui, but in decline within the Mataura Catchment due to environmental degradation. 

Whakarongotai James (Hemi) O’Callaghan (Tapuika, Waitaha, Ngāti Whakaue) is an environmental educator and māramataka practitioner, who is passionate about the taiao and his people. He strives to ensure that all mahi is grounded in tikanga; kawa and kaitiakitanga and results in better outcomes mō ngā mokopuna o āpōpō. Hemi is the Research Lead of the Pātaka Kai Project on behalf of Te Maru o Kaituna River Authority.

Rā tuatahi – session three

Dr Ian Kusabs is principal of his own consultancy specialising in freshwater fisheries incorporating Mātauranga Māori & science knowledge systems. He is of Te Arawa and Ngāti Tūwharetoa descent and is a freshwater advisor to the Te Arawa Lakes Trust. Ian is a self-employed freshwater fisheries biologist with more than 25 years’ experience in freshwater fisheries consultancy, management and research.  He is the senior representative of the Rōpū Māori on the NZ Freshwater Sciences Society and a member of the International Association of Astacology. Ian is an honorary lecturer at the University of Waikato (Department of Science & Engineering). 

Flood control schemes throughout the country were installed over 50 years ago, focusing on maximising the rate of floodwater clearance and with little consideration to ecological impacts. Tuna are most susceptible to impacts from flood pump stations due to their long length, and timing of migration, which only occurs once in their lifetime, with tuna heke migration typically triggered by rainfall and increased flow events, which coincide with pump operation. Mortality and injury at pump stations therefore pose a significant threat to native fisheries internationally and nationally within Aotearoa.  

To help combat these effects, “Pathways To The Sea – Ngā rerenga ki te moana” was formed, a project with the overarching mission to improve safe downstream fish passage at Waikato Regional Council pump stations. This presentation will focus on the issues we are facing, and the mitigation tools, research and collaboration that we have undertaken to enable a strategic direction to be formed and implemented. 

In the Waikato and Waipa Catchment, a collective of River Iwi and hapu have come together with a shared goal of protecting, restoring, and strengthening the tuna (eel) population across the catchment. 

These Iwi include Waikato-Tainui, Ngāti Koroki Kahukura, Raukawa Charitable Trust, Te Arawa River Iwi Trust, Ngāti Tahu Ngāti Whaoa, Ngāti Kea Ngāti Tuara, and Te Nehenehenui. 

These elver releases are led by Iwi and hapū and are part of a broader strategy that prioritises the well-being of tuna at its core. 

Our aspiration is that our collective efforts will lead to a more abundant, healthy, and thriving tuna population throughout the catchment. 

Riki will share his experiences and some of the learnings from the Lakes 380 research project.   Lakes 380 is utilising water, bottom sediment and sediment cores from about 380 lakes across Aotearoa to determine the current and historic (circa 1000 years) health of our lakes.

Mark’s presentation will focus on 10 years of kākahi monitoring as part of the Wairarapa Moana Wetland Project, a collaboration between local and central government agencies, Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa and Rangitāne o Wairarapa.

Wairarapa Moana is significant for iwi and hapū, and they are concerned about the current state of the taonga species that dwell there and their resilience in the face of environmental stressors and the looming threat of climate change. Mark will present the findings and interpretations from a long-term iwi-driven monitoring program that has so far measured more than 3000 kākahi.

Rā tuarua – session four

Pia and Arihia will share insights and learnings from partnering with mana whenua (hapū and landowners) in their understandings of and their considerations for enabling Te Mana o Te Wai within their wai, whenua, whānau, hapū and iwi.  

 Key learnings focus on the application of mātauranga in freshwater management by hapū and Māori landowners, navigating the National Objectives Framework (NOF) process, monitoring approaches and use of cultural health assessment tools and engaging and influencing council/s and other stakeholders. 

The Pūtangi and Mangapiko streams are both important water bodies for our whānau of Tangata Marae situated in Okauia under the ranges of Te Kaokaoroa o Pātetere based in Ngāti Hinerangi Raukawa territory. These water bodies are spoken in pepehā and have provided water and kai to our people for many generations. The Pūtangi stream is also home to the world’s only freshwater bio luminescent limpet Pūtangi – Latia neritoides. For over sixty years a quarry has been operating on the sacred mountain Te Weraiti from which the Pūtangi and Mangapiko flow with adverse effects to the quality of the water and all it contains and sustains.  

In 2022 Tangata Marae was one of the 34 successful applicants and the only marae from across the motu to secure funding under the Te Mana o Te Wai initiative administered by the Ministry for the Environment. The primary purpose of the project entitled ‘Te Karanga a Te Pūtangi’ is to build capacity and capability for Māori to participate in and make decisions for freshwater management, including in the implementation of the New Zealand government’s Essential Freshwater Reforms. For us as uri of Tangata it is about returning and reconnecting to the whenua, to the wai and to our unique identity to build a distinct ā whanau, ā hapū mātauranga monitoring framework to look after our whenua and wai. We are committed to building a generation of protectors and restorers.

Dave, Hollie and Alyssa are kaimahi of the Pou Taiao Unit for Patuharakeke Te Iwi Trust Board. We are kaitiaki for ngā awa, whenua, moana, and ngahere in Patuharakeke rohe.  

One of the values that aligns with Patuharakeke is succession and understanding the needs of our young people to help them thrive. Through combining mātauranga māori and western science, we are able to educate them on environmental issues we face in our rohe and create a safe space for our rangatahi to express themselves.

Our kōrero describes the mahi of the Pou Taiao Unit that engages taitamariki and youth, highlighting specific projects with a  tuakana-teina and intergenerational approach for development and guardianship. 

Rā tuarua – session five

Te Roto o Wairewa possesses a customary tuna fishery cherished by all Ngāi Tahu that has sustained our iwi for generations. Our fishery was central to the nineth tall tree of our 1998 Settlement, mahinga kai. In 2008, in response to the highly degraded state of our roto and reports of the pending collapse of our customary tuna fishery (recognised by the Crown under the Lake Forsyth Lands Vesting Act 1896), Wairewa Rūnanga and Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu funded the construction of a canal.

Long-term water monitoring data from 1999-2023 indicate that since the canal was built, the roto has improved incrementally. We have seen less frequent and intense toxic algal blooms, and the tuna fishery has not collapsed, with long-fins increasing in abundance. Few freshwater roto across the motu have seen this kind of improvement. For us, this is not enough. We want our mahika tuna fishery to be able sustain our hapū and iwi in times of crises, as it did the Māori Battalion during WWII. Our fishery has been under mātaitai since 2010. Further interventions are required. Here, we outline our design and implementation plan for Te Ara Ika o Wairewa, a large-scale pipe-based fish pass and lift system along with Te Momi, a sediment siphon. The novel design uses the hydrostatic pressure of the lake head to power each component. It is hoped that the porohe glass eel migration will be enhanced, with the salt-rich lake sediment discharged for use as a soil supplement.

This rūnanga led project follows generations of adaptive fishery management by our tīpuna. Such interventions to our freshwater fisheries are essential to address the profound environmental changes of the colonial past seen across Aotearoa, including catchment deforestation, lake infilling, wetland drainage, and coastal change.

Any Infrastructure and modifications to our streams and rivers results in a risk to fish by removing them from the awa, creating a barrier to natural migration movement or damaging fish.  This presentation will include some examples of work to provide better protection to fish by keeping them in the awa and providing ways to enable fish passage. 

The loss of the natural parts of our urban rivers and streams especially from piping of the awa has had a significant impact on fish.  Te Mana o te Wai presents an opportunity to consider the restoration and naturalisation of these streams and especially when councils are looking at flood issues associated with climate change and sea level rise.   

This presentation will focus on the role Māori have in helping to ensure our fish are better protected.  Some of this is directly related to Te Mana o te Wai but also through the processes of renewal of resource consents for water use. 

A sneek peak at an upcoming documentary that captures the story of the Māori Fisheries Settlement.

Rā tuarua – session six

Understanding the early life stages of migratory fish in Aotearoa is critical for their conservation. The marine life stage of longfin (Anguilla dieffenbachii) and shortfin (Anguilla australis) eels is poorly understood. While habitat degradation and migration barriers such as dams are widely known to impact the freshwater life stages, less is known about how changing environmental conditions at sea affect eel recruitment.  

Glass eel monitoring was done on the highly-regulated Rangitāiki River in the Bay of Plenty alongside mana whenua of Ngāti Awa to help improve the understanding of the marine stages of the longfin and shortfin lifecycles. Results from this research will help to better understand 1) temporal changes in glass eel migrations and how climate change may impact their movements up our rivers and streams, 2) birth dates, ages and how glass eels grow at sea and 3) where the spawning grounds for each species are and the pathways glass eels use to return to Aotearoa. 

Presenting high-rate filamentous macroalgal ponds as an alternative approach for the treatment of primary municipal wastewater for rural communities. Taking this wastewater treatment technology from laboratory scale to implementation as I present a protocol for species selection based on nutrient bioremediation performance across seasons for year-round municipal wastewater treatment within a monoculture high-rate filamentous macroalgal pond system.  

Puahaere and Arihia share a passion for ensuring space for emerging excellence and its ability to be maintained. As rangatahi Māori carrying roles centric to the prosperity of iwi, hapū and their wai, this session will share key learnings from their work on a recent research project utilising a Te Mana o Te Wai centric approach to the National Objective Framework. Additionally, the pair will share their hopes for the future, and the realisation of this through Te Hira Pū-ao. A challenge to the audience on why all things Taiao, must immediately seek to foster the next generation.