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Future Landscapes

Pohewa Pae Tawhiti

Visualising Horizons

Supporting land-use decision-making that captures multiple worldviews and multiple wellbeings

Te Arawa farm, showing view across farmland to lake in Rotorua region of New Zealand. Image courtesy of Rotorua Land Use Directory / TAPS / Bill Young


Challenge funding: $3,600,000

Research duration:
October 2019 – March 2020
January 2021 – September 2023

What Are We Doing?

Land stewards and managers need a more complete understanding of the impact of their decisions beyond the farm gate and over longer time horizons.

This project will develop a simple way for decision-makers to explore the impacts of different land-use options and visualise the best path forward. The project will make visible considerations and trade-offs that might usually be hidden, particularly the social and cultural impact of decisions.

The research team includes key members from Te Arawa, and will work with Te Arawa to understand and measure the most important factors influencing decision-making. This framework will then be tested with other iwi and a corporate farming body.

A basic user interface will be prototyped, pulling relevant data and indicators into a simple format that allows decision-makers to compare the effects of different land-use scenarios on their priorities.

This will help people share their vision for their land with others involved in decision-making – whether that be their partner, parent, iwi or bank. It will make it easier to explain why one decision is better than another, and support the clear communication of decisions to others.

How Can The Research Be Used?

  • This research will enable everyone involved in decision-making to have better conversations and reach robust decisions based on what’s best for their land, water, whānau and community.
  • The interface developed will help people understand the relationships between multiple priorities and see what the trade-offs look like. For example, economic considerations often have a strong presence at decision-making tables, probably because economic information is more readily available than other types of information. If other factors are given higher visibility in the analysis, this could generate better-weighted decisions with wider benefits to people, land and water.
  • Decision-makers will be able to compare land-use options and explore their effects on different types of wellbeing (environmental, economic, social and cultural). Worldview quantification will help make bias explicit and weight the priority given to each state of wellbeing.
  • For Māori land trusts, this research aims to support more democratic decision-making, enabling effective input from a wider group of trust members who previously have not been fully empowered at the table when decisions are made.
  • An associated research programme, Land Use Opportunities: Whitiwhiti Ora, will contribute methods to establish economic and environmental on- and off-farm impacts of on-farm activities.

Team Snapshot

Research Outputs


Towards best-practice inclusion of cultural indicators in decision making by Indigenous peoples

Te Kīpa Kēpa Brian Morgan, John Reid, Oliver Waiapu Timothy McMillan, et al.
AlterNative: An International Journal of Indigenous Peoples (May 2021)

The purpose of this article is to explore the state of knowledge of cultural indicators internationally and in Aotearoa New Zealand. Cultural indicators are a geographically specific means of enabling measurement of a particular culture’s attributes. Cultural indicators, their definition and their measurement are the sole prerogative of Indigenous Peoples. How Indigenous indicators are included in tools and models is critical, as decisions are no longer being made in purely Indigenous contexts. The method of inclusion is potentially more important than the augmented understanding provided by the cultural indicators themselves. While some indicators are transferable, the accuracy and appropriateness of the evaluation cannot be assumed unless the cultural indicator set is verified with the relevant Indigenous community. The challenge is to avoid the constrained approach of only acknowledging the instrumental value and ensure that the approach is manageable in terms of scale to ensure the effective incorporation of concepts not readily understood in the Western scientific paradigm.

Research Findings Brief: Revealing groundwater’s denitrification capacity

6-page plain language summary of Our Land and Water denitrification research.

Have a Question?

We are happy to answer any questions about this research and how it can be used.

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