Creating a dedicated information hub to empower Māori landowners to make informed decisions about their land is at the heart of a new National Science Challenge project.
Dr Nikki Harcourt (kaihautū Māori research impact leader, Manaaki Whenua) and her colleagues Reina Tamepo (Scion), Aleise Puketapu (Plant & Food Research) and Liliana Clarke (independent researcher) have begun work on Whakatupu: Empowering Māori Landowners in Land use Decisions.
Dr Harcourt says through their work with iwi partners and Māori businesses, the need to create a transformational information hub for Māori has been recognised.
“This project is aimed at ensuring there is maximum benefit delivered to Māori through increasing the accessibility and usability of data and knowledge produced for Māori landowners.”
“By making the data and information available for Māori landowners through a front-end interface, they will have an increased ability to have informed kōrero with consultants before engaging in feasibility studies.”Dr Nikki Harcourt, kaihautū Māori research impact leader, Manaaki Whenua
This project is a collaboration between Māori researchers from Our Land and Water’s Land Use Opportunities: Whitiwhiti Ora project, Van Hattum Corsbie Limited (VHC), and Māori landowners.
“We want Māori landowners to be able to interact, interpret and understand the data generated from Whitiwhiti Ora (in the context of other available data relevant to land use) in a way that supports good land use decision-making.”
Through the project team's extensive experience in supporting Māori landowners, they understand the gap in the availability of data and information about biophysical characteristics of whenua Māori that is truly useful and meaningful to Māori landowners.
There is a significant gap in the relevance and importance of data currently available to Māori landowners, as well as access to robust and crucial advice from consultants, that is needed to enable them to prioritise alternative land use opportunities according to unique characteristics of whenua Māori, says Dr Harcourt.
“By making the data and information available for Māori landowners through a front-end interface, they will have an increased ability to have informed kōrero with consultants before engaging in feasibility studies.”
The project also aims to empower Māori landowners to better understand the range of options that are more likely to be viable for their whenua and enable subsequent investment to be focussed on undertaking in-depth business cases by consultants.
The project team hopes to enable Māori landowners to make decisions that will benefit their iwi, hapū and whānau for future generations.
It is hoped a hub for Māori landowners will be available early 2024, via an online portal.