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Our Land and Water

He manawa piharau

Symposium 2024

He Manawa Piharau
23–24 May, Te Papa Tongarewa (Wellington) CONCLUDED

We hope you enjoyed He Manawa Piharau, our final symposium. It was a powerful opportunity to explore how we can achieve a future for Aotearoa New Zealand where farming and our land and waters thrive.

Symposium Date
Rodd Morris Lamphrey 19202
©Rod Morris/

Over two days, the engaging and interactive programme brought together thought-provoking insights and promising ideas on how we can use our land productively and sustainably: what to grow, where, and under what systems, as well as tools to enable and encourage change.

We were joined by leaders and stakeholders from across government, policy and management agencies, industry, Māori (including hapū, iwi, landowners, and agribusiness enterprises), farmers and our science community as we reflected on how far we’ve come and discussed what comes next for farming and land use in Aotearoa.

What you need to know

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He Manawa Piharau:
an Inspirational Name

From ancient times, piharau from the puna of Rangariri in Hawaiki have travelled Aotearoa’s waterways, swimming upstream across great distances. Our symposium is named for the whakatauaki that honours the determination, persistence and endurance of this taonga species: He Manawa Piharau. In our final symposium, we draw on those important characteristics as inspiration for the journey travelled, and for what still lies ahead.

Photo credit: © Rod Morris/

Aotearoa Freshwater Champions Icon

The Cawthron Freshwater
Champions Awards

We are proud to partner with the 2024 Cawthron Freshwater Champions Forum, which will run concurrently with the He Manawa Piharau symposium at Te Papa Tongarewa. Register separately to attend the Freshwater Champions panel discussions on Thursday afternoon. Both events will combine to celebrate the Freshwater Champions at an evening awards ceremony, networking event and poster session.

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Who is the Symposium for?

He Manawa Piharua is for anyone with a role to play in the future of farming, land use, and land and water protection in Aotearoa. If you are a leader, policy developer, researcher, scientist, landowner, or do-er, are Māori, or work in central, local or regional government, primary sector business or sector organisation, and you want to be part of creating the future of land use in Aotearoa, this symposium is for you.

Those with physical, visual and hearing impairments will be able to engage with all aspects of presentations, workshops and networking.

Day 1 – Thursday 23 May, 2024

Thursday, 23 May 2024
Better is possible: What we've learned together
9am start
Opening Keynotes
Reflections on the journey, connections and mahi of Our Land and Water over the past eight years. Speakers:
  • Dr Jenny Webster-Brown, Our Land and Water director 2020–24
  • Ken Taylor, Our Land and Water director 2016–2020
  • Hon Judith Collins, Minister for Science, Innovation and Technology (via pre-recorded video)
How Far Have We Come?
Our Land and Water's mission has a dual focus on water quality and food production. What did we know about this when we began in 2016, and where are we now? This presentation will include two case study presentations, providing examples of research in each of the two parts of our objective. Speakers:
What Has Worked – and What Needs to Change?
Farmers have been planting trees, fencing riverbanks and changing their farm management to improve water quality. Our research aimed to better understand the current state of freshwater, and to link on-farm action with water quality outcomes. Speakers:
Deeper Dives on Land-Use Change
3 x breakout sessions
Where Land-Use Change is Needed – A Deeper Dive
Live-streamed session
In some catchments, on-farm mitigations won’t be enough to meet community hopes for water quality, so some change in land use or intensity is needed. This Q&A session will help you learn more about where such change is needed. Speakers:
Opportunities, Research & Tools for Whenua Māori 
Māori-owned land has unique challenges and opportunities. This session gives an overview of projects that bring together science, mātauranga and decision-making tools for kaitiaki. Speakers:
Evidence to Support Sustainable Land Use in Hawke’s Bay
Building back from the devastation wrought by Cyclone Gabrielle in the Hawkes Bay region requires long-term, coordinated efforts. This session introduces Our Land and Water projects that offer findings to support these efforts. Speakers:
    • John Burke (Retiring Farmland into Ngahere)
      The Context for Change
      Climate change, trade agreements and consumer preferences are pressing global issues that will have a big impact on agriculture in Aotearoa. These interconnected, complex challenges have informed many Our Land and Water projects. This plenary session zooms out to highlight three such projects and provide an overview of both the global and local context for change. The break-out sessions that follow each take a deeper dive into different aspects of this context. Speakers:
      Cawthron Freshwater Champions Forum
      This concurrent event begins at 2pm. Please register seperately to attend this forum. 
      The two panel discussion sessions of the Cawthron Freshwater Champions Forum run concurrently with the next two sessions of He Manawa Piharau. Both events will combine to celebrate the Freshwater Champions at the evening awards ceremony.
      The Future of Farming: Tools to Navigate Change
      3 x breakout sessions
      Practical Tools and Approaches to Begin Navigating Land-Use Change
      Live-streamed session
      Our Land and Water projects have generated many practical approaches and tools to support land-use diversification decisions. This session will look at some examples, and ask what else is needed to get to where we want to be in the future? This session is for people in industry bodies, regional councils and farm advisors. Speakers:
            Scenarios and Opportunities for the Late 2020s and Beyond
            New opportunities, challenges and vulnerabilities for New Zealand agriculture are on the horizon – particularly for our pastoral sector. This session looks at some research-backed scenarios, and is for people in government, agribusiness, and research.
            Feeding New Zealand Families and Communities
            Aotearoa needs to provide all its people with equal access to affordable, nutritious diets. Research has developed a range of approaches to enhancing food access and advice. This session is for people interested in Māori food sovereignty and those in government and research. Speakers:
                AFTERNOON TEA
                Are Mosaics of Land Uses Really a Solution? 
                4:30pm finish
                Our Land and Water envisaged a future in which catchments contain mosaics of land uses that are more resilient, healthy and prosperous than they are today. This panel asks: Will this vision actually deliver better outcomes? Is it possible? What will it take? What have we learned and where to next? Speakers:
                5:30pm awards finish
                7pm networking event finish
                He Manawa Piharau comes together with attendees from the Freshwater Champions concurrent event, to celebrate the Freshwater Champions at an evening awards ceremony, networking event and poster session

                Day 2 – Friday 24 May, 2024

                Friday, 24 May 2024
                Further together
                9am start
                How Do We Create Change in Aotearoa? 
                Mission-led research has to tackle the challenge of change. What have we learned about change, and what needs to happen next to enable change in a context of escalating misinformation and societal division? Could the wisdom inherent in te ao Māori be our superpower? This panel will explain and discuss some projects, lessons, and key concepts from te ao Māori that could support broad change in Aotearoa, and the risks to Māori. Speakers:
                MORNING TEA
                Incentivising and Rewarding Change
                Our Land and Water's challenge was to preserve the most fundamental treasures of our country – our land, water and associated ecosystems – while producing value from those same treasures. We quickly learned not to define value in economic terms alone. What else has changed since 2016? This plenery session highlights three of many projects that focused on value, for an overview of what we have learned about what we value and how we can grow it. Speakers:
                Accelerating the Pathway to Change
                3 x breakout sessions
                Catchment Group Potential and Ways of Working
                Live-streamed session
                Local community involvement is one of the keys to the long-term health of water in a catchment. This session is for people who want to support catchment groups to effectively coordinate actions and sustain efforts over the long-term. Speakers:
                • Ed Challies ( New Models of Collective Responsibility )
                • Bridget Jonkers (NZ Landcare Trust)
                • Katie Owen (Ministry for the Environment)
                • Geoff Simmons (chief economist, Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment)  
                Using Storytelling to Support Impact and Change
                This practical session will support researchers, rural professionals and others who want to inspire change through sharing practical, real-world examples of successes and failures.
                • Chelsea Millar (Grass Roots Media)
                • Jessica Berentson-Shaw (The Workshop)
                • Dacia Herbulock (Science Media Centre)
                Building Trust, Connection and Social Licence
                Aotearoa is united in our awareness of the challenges facing our farmers, but trust and understanding between groups is low. This session will discuss how to build trust and connection in our food and farming system, for people in the primary sector and government. Speakers:
                  Research into Action
                  Practical lessons and insights from the leaders of three place-based projects that have put Our Land and Water research into action to revitalise te Taiao. Speakers:
                  Future Leaders
                  A chance to hear from rangatahi graduates of the Pūhoro STEMM Academy about what they want from the future and how they would like to see the work of Our Land and Water taken forward. Speakers:
                  • Kemp Reweti (Manahautū /CE, Pūhoro STEMM Academy)
                  • Meschka Seifritz (Manaaki Kaimai Mamaku Trust)
                  • Neveah Anderson (Tai Wānanga Tu Toa)
                  Into the Future: Making Connections to Take the Responsibility Forward
                  3 x facilitated workshops
                  Future Research Programmes
                  How do we do our research in the future? What research do we still need? What relationships, organisations and structures could enable this? Facilitator: Helen Percy
                  How do we collectively continue to implement what has been started (for example, what are the roles of catchment-led initiatives)?  What is needed for this to happen, and who needs to be involved? Facilitator: Susie McKeague
                  Where Should We Go from Here? 
                  How do we harness this collective to support a more united approach for the food and fibre sectors?  What do we have already (policies, plans, visions)? What role can we play individually and collectively? Facilitator: Bill Kaye-Blake
                  AFTERNOON TEA
                  4:30pm finish
                  The time has come for Our Land and Water to hand over the work of the Challenge. Facilitators will present back from the breakout session discussions among those who will carry forward the mahi of Our Land and Water, and their plans and ideas. This will be followed by an address from Hone McGregor, chair of Our Land and Water governance group, who will offer his parting reflections on what has been learned. Speakers:
                  • Sue Bidrose
                  • Hone McGregor
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