Ngā Tai-o-Rongo

Revitalising ancestral knowledge systems to provide a pathway for Māori landowners to work with the environment, rather than on the environment.

Richie Toa Mills

Project Details Ngā taipitopito

Project Status:
Challenge funding:
Research duration:
November 2021 – March 2022
August 2022 – March 2024

Collaborators Ngā haumi

Ātihau-Whānganui Incorporation | Awariki Limited | Connect Māori Limited | Kāhu Environmental | Naia | Ngā Waihua o Paerangi Trust | Peace of Dreams Limited | Te Ora a Whiro Limited | Tukua Studios | Waihuia Group Limited

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What are we doing?E aha ana mātou?

Ngā Tai-o-Rongo is a place-based kaupapa Māori programme that draws on tūpuna wisdom and its application within Māori agribusiness and iwi environmental units.

This research takes place at sites on Atihau Whanganui Incorporation (AWHI) Farms between Ohakune and Whanganui and is conducted in partnership with AWHI Farms and Ngā Waihua o Paerangi Trust.

It aims to engage uri and kaimahi of Māori agribusiness and iwi environmental units, with hopes of revitalising te Taiao and allowing for the transfer of tūpuna knowledge for better on-farm decision-making and environmental monitoring.

Tai-o-Rongo will engage tātai, knowledge of esoteric conditions, data collection, riparian planting approaches, animal husbandry approaches and undertake a review of relevant literature. Impact will be created through the implementation of findings, wānanga, information dissemination, resource creation and hui. The reconnection to the environment will influence better decision-making around land use and people behavioural changes.

The research programme is framed around the three spheres of Ngā Tai Knowledge Systems:

  • Ngā Tai o te Rangi (celestial knowledge or tuhi)
  • Ngā Tai o te Nuku (terrestrial knowledge or tohu)
  • Ngā Tai ā-Tāngata (human observations and indigenous science sense-making or tirotiro)

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

The research project intends to address two critical challenges for Māori agribusiness:

  • How do we build capacity and capability, to preserve and reignite Māori ancestral knowledge systems and practices for understanding our natural world within Māori agribusiness landscapes?
  • How do we transform the way we do Māori agribusiness so that our ancestral knowledge systems are at the heart of how we interact with te taiao, including our land use and land management decisions?

Ngā Tai-o-Rongo tests the hypothesis that processes like karakia and tātai contribute to environmental sustainability, and that environmental indicators can be used to identify optimal times of the year to engage in specific farming practices such as harvesting and husbandry management. The impact is to reconnect and strengthen our relationship to the environment, and to re-establish our ancestral practices. These processes can then again become a practised knowledge system, embedded in the subconscious of uri and kaimahi – much like everyday tasks like driving a car.

Participation & engagement Te hunga i whai wāhi mai

  • The research team will engage with whānau, hapū and iwi to support capacity and capability building.
  • Research will be carried out and implemented on AWHI Farm’s Tohunga Station, taking into account specific geographical features of the site. After the first phase of research, the team will involve wider groups (iwi, hapū, Māori agribusiness) to test and extend the learnings, while similarly acknowledging the specific nuances of different places.

Research team Te hunga i whai wāhi mai

Project Lead
Che Wilson
Naia Ltd
Implementation Co-Lead
Meretini Bennett-Huxtable
Te Ora a Whiro Ltd
Project Manager
Francene Wineti
Awariki Ltd
Whetū Moataane
Atihau-Whanganui Incorporation
Krystal (Te Rina) Warren
Connect Māori Limited
Deana Wilson
Ngā Waihua o Paerangi Trust
Tom Johnson
Te Ora a Whiro Limited
Implementation Co-Lead
Shiro Rauroha Brown
Nga Waihua o Paerangi Trust / Waihuia Ltd

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