Early Māori Agricultural Entrepreneurship

Kia Whakatōmuri te Haere Whakamua

Culturally responsive reimagining of primary production based on traditional models of the past

Project Details Ngā taipitopito

Project Status:
Challenge funding:
Research duration:
July 2022 - May 2023

Collaborators Ngā haumi

AgFirst | AgResearch | Nga Uri o te Ngahere Trust | Te Rangatahi o te Whenua Trust

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What are we doing?E aha ana mātou?

Historical Māori land use practice was adapted to create unprecedented primary production and export success immediately after early European contact (1840–1864, the “golden years” of Māori agricultural entrepreneurship).

The cultural/social enterprise model for food production used by Māori enhanced community wellbeing and maintained the mauri of traditional ecosystems.

This project will produce a white paper exploring how this model could inform the creation of new production models that are socially responsive, non-exploitative, high-value and world-leading.

Māori elders will contribute through interviews about historical events, recognising rangatira rangahau and mana motuhake.

The research is supported by Kohimarama Aotearoa, a regional network of whenua Māori land blocks in regions of high socio-economic deprivation, with international reach across the Kohimarama / Global Research Alliance indigenous network.

How can the research be used? Ka pēhea e whai take ai te rangahau?

  • This project aims to inspire change in primary production through the adoption of mātauranga Māori. It will develop a framework to stimulate the use of traditional knowledge in farm planning to address current challenges in the industry.
  • By creating a shift in thinking towards ecological enhancement and values-based production, the brand value associated with a recalibrated production system will drive premium returns for the sector.
  • Supported by Ngati Porou’s Pakihiroa Farms, the research will be piloted in the East Cape / Tairawhiti region, impacting 150,000ha of whenua Māori and multiple marae and kura.
  • A white paper will describe how historical indigenous land use practice, which was adapted to create unprecedented primary production and export success within 35 years of first European contact, can be used to reconfigure industrial agriculture within Aotearoa, re-establishing its social licence to operate and significantly enhancing premium returns.

Research team Te hunga i whai wāhi mai

Science Lead / Te Ao Māori Lead
Garry Watson
Nga Uri o te Ngahere Trust
Matua Kevin Prime
Rangatira o Ngati Hine
Hilton Collier
Taiao Connect Ltd. & Pakihiroa Farms Ltd.
Taonui Campbell
Tainui, Ngati Maniapoto, Waikato, Ngāti Rōrā, Apakura, Tama-inu-po. Te Uriroroi, Ngāti Mahuta
AgriSea NZ Seaweed
Estelle Dominati

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