Mauri Whenua Ora

Unlocking the potential of Māori land by advancing new production systems and market opportunities, using a mātauranga-centred framework

Project Details Ngā taipitopito

Project Status:
Challenge funding:
Research duration:
July 2016 – December 2019

Collaborators Ngā haumi

Amokura Iwi Consortium | FoodLadder Australia | Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research | Māori Maps | Massey University | Oromahoe Trust | Scion | Statistics New Zealand | Te Hiku Iwi | True North Research | University Of Auckland | University Of Otago

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What are we doing?E aha ana mātou?

Many Māori groups are facing unprecedented levels of economic development through Treaty of Waitangi settlements and new entrepreneurial ventures. Māori cultural attributes are increasingly valued by consumers in some export markets; some estimates suggest the potential for adding value is $8 billion over 10 years.

However Māori agribusiness is complex. Land managers must ensure the cultural and environmental health of their whenua (land), while unlocking its economic potential to support its tangata whenua (people) – including descendants who now live elsewhere and may not be attached to or involved in their lands.

Mauri Whenua Ora researchers collaborated with Taitokerau (Northland) land entities, hapū and individuals to co-develop a range of models responsive to diverse needs and interests. These models include the Te Hiku Platform, a multi-tribal economic platform, and Pā to Plate, a social innovation economy model which connects hua (produce and resources) from ancestral lands with descendant markets.

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

  • A land-use decision-support tool for iwi, Māori land entities, trusts, and other Māori land decision-makers is being developed on the existing Māori Maps platform, the website portal to the 768 tribal marae of New Zealand. Mauri Whenua Ora researchers added Māori land block data, and data from Whenua Viz (the Māori land visualisation tool developed by Manaaki Whenua) to Māori Maps. This gave each Māori land block a direct portal to its land-use potential, historic land cover and soil properties.
  • The next steps are to integrate an iwi descendant map and social and economic data layers with the Māori Maps platform. A preliminary resource including income, employment and education data for the 9 Taitokerau iwi populations is available at the Kete Aronui of Iwi of Taitokerau website.
  • Current research focuses on the Bay of Islands, through a collaborative process with the Amokura Iwi Consortium (representing chief executives of 7 Taitokerau iwi), Stats NZ and Manaaki Whenua. Extension to the Bay of Plenty is underway. This will provide valuable information for a future national application.
  • Pā to Plate: Ideas collated from numerous wānanga, interviews and korero are being transformed into a micro-economy model to distribute food to market among kinship networks. Producers, growers and enterprises in the Bay of Islands have been identified as first contributors to the Pā to Plate model, and have been working with researchers and community representatives to build the business model and cyclical value chain. This is beginning to fulfil a project aim to connect dispersed tangata whenua to their marae.
  • An iwi land use platform has been developed in collaboration with Te Hiku Iwi. The Te Hiku Platform is founded on iwi-defined principles of land use and development with a special focus on forestry. It will help centralise the role of iwi and collaborative partners in advancing forestry interests and will act as a model for wider application elsewhere.

Participation & engagement Te hunga i whai wāhi mai

  • At the 2016 Oromahoe Trust AGM, a micro economy was discussed and the wider community was invited to participate. Responses were enthusiastic. A follow up report back was given to the Oromahoe Trust at its 2017 AGM.
  • A survey of 150 people in March 2017 (mainly at the Ngati Hine festival and an Oromahoe Trust special meeting) showed that close to 100% of survey respondents would like to purchase from an initiative like Pā to Plate. Many were willing to pay more for it or add a koha to the asking price.
  • Ongoing relationships with several First Nations people who are involved in entrepreneurial food enterprises within US communities were established at the Green Bay Food Sovereignty Summit (around 300 in attendance) in October 2017.
  • Mauri Whenua Ora has held 4 hui with iwi Chief Executives to help them access the Taitokerau regional decision-support tools and inform the design of further iwi and hapū decision support tools.

Research team Te hunga i whai wāhi mai

Research Lead
Merata Kawharu
Ngāti Rahiri, Ngāti Kawa, Ngāti Whātua
University of Otago
Paul Tapsell
Te Arawa
University of Otago
Garth Harmsworth
Te Arawa, Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Tuhourangi, Ngāti Raukawa
Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research
Tanira Kingi
Stephen McTaggart
University of Auckland
Hauiti Hakopa
University of Otago
Krushil Watene
Ngāti Manu, Te Hikutu, Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei, Tonga
Massey University
Raaniera Te Whata
Otago University
Hirini Tane
Ngāti Rahiri, Ngāti Kawa
Otago University

Tools & resources Ngā utauta me ngā rauemi


More diverse, resilient, healthy landscapes by 2030 – webinar

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Whāriki: The growth of Māori community entrepreneurship

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Mā Waitangi Catchment Pilot

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Kete Aronui of Iwi of Te Taitokerau

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Academic outputs He whakaputanga ngaio

Technical Report

Pā to Plate: Preliminary Insights

On the basis of this project being part-way through, we offer the following insights: Pā to Plate is reinvigorating marae communities throughout Taitokerau. ‘Marae’ as…
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Journal Article

The Sustainable Development Goals and Indigenous Peoples: Another Missed Opportunity?

Indicators have emerged as a powerful communication tool for complex phenomena in the shift towards quantitative measurement. Using a framework informed by the United Nations…
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Reinterpreting the value chain in an indigenous community enterprise context

The purpose of this paper is to interpret values that may inform a new approach to considering value chains from New Zealand Māori kin community…
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Journal Article

Geographically-explicit, dynamic partial equilibrium model of regional primary value chains – Mathematical formulation and application to forestry in Northland region of New Zealand

This paper lays out the mathematical foundation of the Primary Value Chains (PVC) model, which is a geographically explicit, dynamic partial equilibrium model of regional…
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Journal Article

Values-led management: the guidance of place-based values in environmental relationships of the past, present, and future.

The prevalence of widespread, human-caused ecological degradation suggests that fundamental change is needed in how societies interact with the environment. In this paper we argue…
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Technical Report

Whakapapakainga: A template of cross-generational development for marae-communities

Through case study research in Northland, New Zealand, this thesis investigates the future of papakainga (kin-community settlements) and their marae (ancestral centres of tribal identity).…
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In the media Mai i te ao pāpaho

Our Land and Water blog, April 2019
Here's how urban Māori can use the Māori Maps platform to find their proximal ancestral marae.
Our Land and Water blog, May 2018
Important steps in the Pā to Plate project so far - and announcing the launch of a tool to guide Māori land use innovation, in the Bay of Islands region via Māori Maps.
Māori Maps media release, 30 April 2018
“Not only will this information enable a richer understanding of the Māori landscape, but it also provides another avenue for people to make connections back to their ancestral marae,” said Dr Paora Tapsell, Chair of Te Potiki National Trust
Our Land and Water blog, July 2017
Mauri Whenua Ora research has scaled up its co-design processes and decision-support tools by holding 4 hui with iwi chief executives.

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