New Models of Collective Responsibility

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

George (Teoti) Jardine (Te Rūnaka o Ōraka-Aparima) and other particpants in the Catchment Forum meeting and field trip in March 2021, at the Pourakino catchment, Colac Bay, Southland

Project Details Ngā taipitopito

Project Status:
Challenge funding:
Research duration:
August 2019 – January 2023

Collaborators Ngā haumi

Cawthron Institute | Happen Consulting | ISREF | Massey University | Nikau Pacific Group | Nukuroa Consulting | Te Pōtiki National Trust | True North Research | University Of Canterbury

You are here: Home / Projects / ­ New Models of Collective Responsibility

What are we doing?E aha ana mātou?

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.

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

  • 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.

Participation & engagement Te hunga i whai wāhi mai

  • The Pā to Plate team is working with marae communities from the Bay of Islands through to the Hokianga, including Waitangi, Oromāhoe, Tautoro, Whirinaki, North Hokianga, Kaikohe and Karetu. The team is also connecting with many other growers in the Tai Tokerau region through personal visits, a Facebook page, website ( and local festivals.
  • Researchers have identified four case study catchment groups at an early stage of formation, in Southland (Pourakino Catchment Group), Marlborough (Pelorus Catchment Group), Hawkes Bay (Mangaone Catchment Group), Northland (Waitangi Catchment Group). 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 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, and Te Pōtiki National Trust. The research team is also also working closely with Northland Regional Council and have received funding from Foundation North

Research team Te hunga i whai wāhi mai

Implementation Lead/Project Manager
Jim Sinner
Cawthron Institute
Te Ao Māori Lead
Merata Kawharu
Ngāti Rahiri, Ngāti Kawa, Ngāti Whātua
University of Otago
Paul Tapsell
Te Arawa
University of Otago
Hirini Tane
Ngāti Rahiri, Ngāti Kawa
Otago University
Marc Tadaki
Cawthron Institute
Ed Challies
University of Canterbury
Margaret Kilvington
Christina Robb
Happen Consulting
Krushil Watene
Ngāti Manu, Te Hikutu, Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei, Tonga
Massey University
Paul Voigt
Nikau Pacific Group
Hauiti Hakopa
University of Otago

Tools & resources Ngā utauta me ngā rauemi


Pā to Plate Grower’s Guide

This beautifully illustrated booklet provides a brief grower’s guide from pā to plate. Beginning as a research project in 2016, Pā to Plate has evolved…
View Guidance
Journal Article

Applying whakapapa research methodology in Māori kin communities in Aotearoa New Zealand

Indigenous research methods centralises the importance of Indigenous ways of researching, validating and interpreting knowledge. In Māori kin-community (kāinga) contexts this methodology is called whakapapa.…
View Journal Article
Interactive Tool

Pā to Plate

Pā to Plate is a web platform that connects hua (produce and resources) from ancestral lands with Māori who descend from those lands. Producers, growers…
View Interactive Tool

Academic outputs He whakaputanga ngaio

Technical Report

Indicators of Collective Responsibility by Catchment Groups

This report makes some general observations about the process of developing indicators and then offers some suggested indicators for catchment groups and for support organisations.…
View Technical Report
Technical Report

Pā to Plate: Indicators of Success

Pā to Plate (P2P) is an aspirational Māori socio-economic enterprise pilot that was established in 2016 in Tai Tokerau (Northland). Over the past five to…
View Technical Report
Journal Article

Communities and Climate Change: Why Practices and Practitioners Matter

Communities most vulnerable to the effects of climate change are intimately tied to a considerable amount of cultural and biological diversity. Much of that diversity…
View Journal Article
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…
View Technical Report
Journal Article

Crafting collective management institutions in messy real-world settings: A call for action research

There is considerable interest in collective management as a potential solution to complex environmental problems, but existing research offers little guidance for the messy real-world…
View Journal Article
Technical Report

Catchment And Community Environment Groups In Aotearoa New Zealand: Goals, Activities And Needs

The Ministry for the Environment contracted the Cawthron Institute to survey catchment and community environment groups about how they are organised, what they are doing,…
View Technical Report

In the media Mai i te ao pāpaho

In Common podcast, 1 April 2022
In this podcast Jim Sinner discusses some of the codes of conduct for commons researchers based on his research, such the need to get alongside people on the ground, to engage with social identities, and to put social justice at the center of what we do.
The Spinoff, 27 August 2020
Amid a growing desire for greater food sovereignty, communities are deciding for themselves that they want to transition to low-carbon and sustainable futures.
Stuff, 11 August 2020
The Government’s new freshwater policies are another step towards cleaning up our rivers, lakes and aquifers, yet it remains unclear how healthier waterways will actually be achieved.
Sarah's Country, 11 August 2020
Healthy freshwater is more than a farm environment plan. New Models of Collective Responsibility project manager Jim Sinner proposes a four-step approach based on catchment groups.

Incentives for Change Projects

Tauutuutu Diagram For Website

Kaitiaki Intelligence Platforms

Positioning Māori as first movers in next-generation environmental intelligence
View Project
This project has produced
Information Type Icon Infographic OutlineInformation Type Icon Summary OutlineInformation Type Icon Technical Reports Outline

Eutrophication Product Footprinting

Eutrophication indicators will help New Zealand agribusiness reduce environmental impacts and meet expected new European environmental standards
View Project

Indicators Working Group

Investigating the use of indicators to help the primary and public sector meet local, national and international reporting requirements
View Project
The Matrix Of Drivers 2022 1200x800

The Matrix of Drivers

A foundational understanding of international and domestic drivers and issues, and their importance to the primary sector
View Project
This project has produced
Information Type Icon Interactive Tool OutlineInformation Type Icon Summary OutlineInformation Type Icon Technical Reports Outline
Register Of Land Management

Register of Land Management Actions

What's been done? A national record of land management actions to improve water quality and restore catchments
View Project
This project has produced
Information Type Icon Guidance OutlineInformation Type Icon Infographic OutlineInformation Type Icon Interactive Tool OutlineInformation Type Icon Journal Article OutlineInformation Type Icon Video Outline

Reasons for Water Quality Improvement

Investigating the reasons for decreasing phosphorus concentrations in many waterways
View Project
Scroll to Top