Whenua Life Values

An online tool to assist Māori agribusiness in making strategic decisions within a kaupapa Māori framework

Paul Sutherland

Project Details Ngā taipitopito

Project Status:
Challenge funding:
Research duration:
December 2017 – August 2019

Collaborators Ngā haumi

Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research | Massey University | Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga | Te Puna Ora o Mataatua | Te Rūnanga o Ngai Tahu | University Of Canterbury | University Of Otago

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What are we doing?E aha ana mātou?

As more land is returned to iwi through Treaty settlements, Māori land entities are exploring how to provide for their people while upholding principles such as kaitiakitanga (values of guardianship and mutual responsibility). Many Māori land trusts and incorporations are recognised innovators in the agribusiness sector. There is also considerable scope for improvement, with some estimates putting the potential for adding value by highlighting cultural attributes as $8 billion over 10 years.

The Māori agricultural sector is therefore crucial to the development of future agribusiness solutions that are productive economically, while also restoring the wellbeing of the land and water resources underpinning agriculture for future generations.

Māori agribusinesses experience unique opportunities and limitations as a result of competing market, legislative, cultural and social factors. Our researchers have developed a suite of indicators that measure and present these factors in an online format. The Kohuratia website provides Māori agribusiness in Aotearoa New Zealand with a snapshot of the current constraints their operations are faced with, and identifies the most impactful actions an organisation can make.

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

  • Māori agribusinesses can gather data about their values, current performance, capabilities and capacity, and enter it into the Kohuratia online tool. The tool then generates from this data a series of priority actions that will support Maori agribusinesses in meeting their goals, and helping optimise economic, social, and environmental outcomes.
  • Kohuratia is not Māori-specific – it can be used for any farm and has been tested with Pakehā farmers.
  • Through a quantitative survey this research has determined that there are strong correlations among values, rather than trade-offs. Examples of Māori agribusiness value-drivers working in synergy include:
    • Māori agribusinesses that experience strong wealth generation (whai rawa) also exhibit growth in mauri (health) of their whenua, improved social connections and relationships (manaakitanga), and have more effective governance (mana whakahaere)
    • Strong whanaungatanga correlates strongly with profitability and land health
    • Increasing land health correlates with increasing profit
    • Effective governance (mana whakahaere) correlates strongly with profitability and increasing land health
  • This research has developed an indicator matrix for measuring enablers and constraints on Māori agribusinesses in 5 domain areas: access to capabilities, access to working capital, pathways to market, positive relationships, and the capacity to overcome regulatory constraints.
  • The research creates the opportunity to consider how Māori science and kaitiakitanga values can make a crucial contribution to Aotearoa New Zealand’s agriculture and food sectors.
  • The Kohuratia online tool is being used by several Maori Trusts, DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb NZ.
  • Kohuratia can be used by Board of Trustees to reflect on key areas to focus on (eg governance and conflict resolution) in a way that is non-confrontational.
  • Kohuratia can be used by farm extension managers and agricultural consultants to stimulate discussion and use alongside deeper analysis. It can be used in farm environment plan development.

Related research updates Ngā pānui mō te rangahau nei

Participation & engagement Te hunga i whai wāhi mai

  • The Kohuratia online tool will be shortly used by 5 Māori Land Trusts that will provide researchers with feedback on its efficacy and to identify ways to improve its function.
  • The final refined product will be tested across 100 Māori Land Trusts and incorporations by Dairy NZ, and across a group of Māori landowners by Beef and Lamb NZ.
  • There is interest in the tool from Te Puna Kokiri and the Ministry for Primary Industries, with the latter committing to testing and further developing the tool with Māori agribusiness partners.
  • Key investigators in the project have strong connections with Māori land trusts, incorporations and rūnanga that own and operate farms. Science and technology used in the research has been tested with stakeholders alongside engagement with the scientific community.

Research team Te hunga i whai wāhi mai

Research Lead
John Reid
University of Canterbury / Earth Quotient
Jason Mika
Massey University
Shaun Awatere
Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research
Anne Maire Gillies
Te Puna Ora O Mataatua Charitable Trust
Diane Ruwhiu
University of Otago

Tools & resources Ngā utauta me ngā rauemi


Revitalise Te Taiao seminar: Whenua, Life, Values

Dr John Reid was a special guest speaker at the Revitalise te Taiao seminar recently held in Te Whanganui-a-Tara (Wellington). Dr Reid presented on the…
View Video

Academic outputs He whakaputanga ngaio

Journal Article

Māori Agribusinesses – The Whakapapa Network for Success

Reviews of Māori land generally focus on how the 80% identified as’under-performing’ or’under-utilised’ can be more productive. This article analyses the 20% of Māori Land…
View Journal Article
Technical Report

The development of an indicator framework to measure enablers and constraints on Māori agribusiness

This report outlines the process taken to map the specific constraints and enablers Māori agribusinesses face, and produce a set of indicators to measure these…
View Technical Report
Technical Report

Using an indicator matrix to determine the correlations and relationships between Māori agribusiness drivers

The report outlines an indicator matrix that assists Māori agribusinesses in prioritising their goals to maximise their potential across values. It is based on a…
View Technical Report
Technical Report

Opportunities for Māori to access premium market: Results from a Māori agribusiness survey

This report outlines the constraints on Māori agribusinesses accessing premium markets and mechanisms for overcoming constraints. The report is based on a survey of Māori…
View Technical Report

In the media Mai i te ao pāpaho

Our Land and Water blog, September 2019
There are four values at the core of Māori agribusiness, which work as a positive feedback loop to grow health, relationships, leadership and profitability.

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