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Te Hiringa Tangata Ki Te Tai Timu Ki Te Tai Pari

Te Hiringa Tangata Ki Te Tai Timu Ki Te Tai Pari (Facilitating bicultural restoration of coastal forests using seabirds as ecosystem engineers)

Principal investigator: Professor Henrik Moller

Staff involved: Henrik Moller

Brief abstract

Our aim is an expansion of NZ's coastal forests with enhanced biodiversity under a bicultural restoration management framework. Bicultural management will have met the challenges of high coastal ecosystem use by people.

The underlying meaning of our Te Reo Māori title 'Te Hiringa Tangata Ki Te Tai Timu Ki Te Tai Pari' represents this – 'the binding of the people to the incoming and outgoing tide'. It symbolises the way this project connects Māori to one another and to Pakeha acknowledging our relationship with the land and sea and our common goal to protect and restore the mauri (life force) of our ecosystems.

NZ coastal areas once supported superabundant seabirds that brought about a massive transfer of nutrients from the ocean to the land, especially during the breeding season. Coastlines have always been a focus of human activity due to their plentiful resources, and this was especially so for Māori. Most coastal forest ecosystems have been lost through land-use change, and seabird populations have been devastated by introduced predators.

Demand from Māori, DOC, councils, and private restoration trusts for restoration of coastal forest ecosystems is increasing rapidly, but such restoration is culturally and ecologically challenging. Without a prompt response, irreversible degradation of coastal forests will occur through long term soil modification, weed dominance and negligence of traditional knowledge (matauranga).

We address two key questions:

  1. How can Māori goals, worldview and concepts be incorporated with Pakeha-dominated management goals, legislative obligations and scientific theories and methodologies to establish a restoration management framework for coastal forest ecosystems throughout NZ?
  2. What are the impacts of different management interventions (e.g. rat eradication, chick translocations, customary harvest) on petrel population dynamics, densities and inputs and associated coastal forest ecosystem properties and processes?