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Ka ora te whenua, ka ora te tangata

Principal investigator: Pip Pehi

Brief abstract

Māori culture demonstrates a deep connection between Māori people and their land. This strong connection to the land is something however that many non-Māori New Zealanders share also. Ka ora te whenua, ka ora te tangata is the name given to the research program that is part of the wider Te Tiaki Mahinga Kai project. The vision of the overall project Te Tiaki Mahinga Kai is of "sustained enhancement of the cultural, economic, social and environmental resilience of Māori (and ultimately of the nation as a whole) through the application of social-ecological research and matāuranga Māori (traditional Māori knowledge) to contemporary customary fisheries practices".

Ka ora te whenua, ka ora te tangata is concerned mainly with the social and cultural aspects of the practices linked with mahinga kai (traditional food-gathering sites), and specifically with mataitai and taiāpure (customary fisheries or area management tools). This program's main aim is to listen to the voices of tangata whenua (people of the land) and their communities within Aotearoa about the stories that connect us to the land and sea. Furthermore, this research hopes to share these stories to demonstrate how the health of our whenua (land) and moana (sea) are essential to the health of our people, and vice versa. This project aims to also begin the development of a measure of well-being that will be directly applicable to the place in which people live.

A Participatory Action Research and Kaupapa Māori Research approach is being used to work with Tangata Tiaki and community members from 6 case studies nationally (and 2 less intensive case studies) to investigate whether cultural and environmental well-being is increased through the successful establishment and management of mataitai and taiāpure. This approach emphasises the need for participants to be involved at all stages of research, from the planning of the research project through to the collection, analysing and storage of data and then sharing the findings.

This research aims to share the stories of the research participants' relationship (and that of their communities) with their whenua and how these relationships link to their overall well-being. This project explores the role that whenua and moana play in the lives of tangata whenua and the need for Māori and communities to have governance of their own lands to contribute to their overall well-being. At the end of the day, this research hopes first and foremost to foster and develop research capacity and awareness within communities and to enhance the health of all its participants.

Funder: Ministry of Science & Innovation (MSI)

Total contract value: $232,000

Term: January 2007-March 2010

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