Skip to content

Incentives for Change

New Models of Collective Responsibility

Te Whakakotahitanga mō te Taiao

Developing new ways to strengthen the connection between people, land and water

New Models of Collective Responsibility


Challenge funding: $2,809,000

Research duration: August 2019 – January 2023

What Are We Doing?

The health of our land, water and communities are closely connected. Tōitu te whenua, tōitu te tangata. (When land and water are sustained, the people are also sustained.)

In many catchments, healing the mauri of land and waters will require neighbours to coordinate their actions. The research team will undertake two related initiatives to explore and develop new ways to strengthen the connection between people, land and water.

Pā to Plate is a social innovation project that will reconnect Māori descendants of Tai Tokerau to their ancestral land by enabling them to buy food ‘from home’. This will reconnect descendants to the mātauranga (knowledge) of food grown in their ancestral landscapes, while strengthening connections with, and employment opportunities for, those still at the marae.

The collective management project will work with community leaders in case study catchments to consolidate and accelerate collective actions to benefit water, land and people. Our learning forum will support catchment groups to diagnose and address issues, prioritise investments, and scale up to achieve their goals.

PICTURED ABOVE: Field day led by Brent Bryce, at Brent Morrison's farm, Rai Valley. Photo courtesy of NZ Landcare Trust

How Can The Research Be Used?

  • This research will help landholders, tangata whenua and regional councils work together to meet their community’s goals.
  • A policy advisory group will help researchers and catchment group members to produce recommendations for how government and the primary sector can support catchment collectives, extending the impact of this research around Aotearoa.
  • This research continues the Pā to Plate project begun by the Mauri Whenua Ora research programme.
  • Pā to Plate researchers will share knowledge with a new business, E Māra E, that will promote and deliver local produce from Māori growers in Tai Tokerau to Māori customers who descend from the region. It is hoped that when urban whanau are able to purchase and eat kai from home, this will build physical, emotional, cultural and economic connections between descendants and their land, contributing to a greater sense of belonging, security and identity as tangata whenua.
  • Later, the research team will help food producers in other regions consider how they can start similar initiatives to reconnect people with ancestral lands. Non-Māori producers and consumers may also have the opportunity to join these initiatives.

Research Updates

Kanoa Lloy returns to her whanau marae

Apr 16 2019

How Can Urban Māori Reconnect With Their Whenua?

If you watch The Project on TV, you may have been moved by Friday night’s ...
Mauri Whenua Ora researchers, producers, community leaders and Maori land trust representatives at a Pa to Plate thought leaders workshop, Waitangi, 5 October

May 31 2018

Pā to Plate Project Boosted By New Decision-Support Tool for the Bay of Islands

The Pā to Plate project aims to reconnect Māori with their marae, through enabling descendants ...
Collaboration in Mauri Whenua Ora

Jul 30 2017

How Iwi Chief Execs Are Helping Our Researchers Design New Land-Use Tools

Four hui have been held with iwi chief executives to help them access the Tai ...

Community Involvement

  • Researchers have identified four case study catchment groups at an early stage of formation, in Southland, Pelorus, Hawkes Bay, Northland. The research programme will support them to evolve a collective management approach.
  • The collective management project will regularly bring together catchment group members to share experiences and learn how to improve collective management in their home catchments.
  • The programme will convene a biannual national forum of representatives from the case study catchment groups, including tangata whenua, and a policy advisory group to meet annually.
  • An advisory group includes representatives of Northland Regional Council, Dairy NZ, Hawke’s Bay Regional Council, Marlborough District Council, Environment Southland, Ministry for the Environment, Department of Conservation, NZ Landcare Trust, NZ Beef and Lamb, Fish & Game, Te Potiki National Trust, and Foundation North.

Research Outputs


Navigating Institutional Challenges: Design to Enable Community Participation in Social Learning for Freshwater Planning

James A. Turner, Will Allen, Caroline Fraser, Andrew Fenemor, Akiko Horita, Toni White, Lan Chen, Maggie Atkinson & Michelle Rush
Environmental Management, February 2020

This research project was informed by this paper from the Wheel of Water project: Social learning is a process suited to developing understanding and concerted action to tackle complex resource dilemmas, such as freshwater management. In practice, social learning encounters challenges from shared habits and routines of stakeholders embedded in organisational structures and norms of professional behaviour. A freshwater planning exercise was designed, implemented and evaluated as a social learning process with community groups in two New Zealand catchments. Incorporating participatory reflection enabled the project team to modify social learning design to manage institutional influences hindering progress toward outcomes. Findings emphasise that social learning is underpinned by participants’ changing assumptions about what constitutes the institution of learning itself. Reflecting on these assumptions challenged participants’ expectations about their own and others’ behaviours and roles in freshwater planning.

Team Snapshot

Have a Question?

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

Please fill in the form below

Thank you for your enquiry. Your question may require information to be gathered from the research team, so please anticipate that it may take us up to 10 days to prepare a reply.

We appreciate your interest in our research.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
Scroll To Top