Director, Te Pūnaha Matatini Centre of Research Excellence in Complex Systems
Ko te pae tawhiti whāia kia tata
ko te pae tata whakamaua kia tina
Seek out distant horizons, and cherish those you attain
Priscilla is a conservation biologist whose research has two main research themes: first, ecological knowledge; evolutionary ecology, and especially foraging behaviour, including isotope and nutrient analyses of diet; and secondly, socioecological relationships, including cultural environmental management.
She frequently works on human-nature relationships, including biocultural diversity and past, present and future Indigenous environmental relationships. She also works on introduced species that challenge native ecosystems, insect ecology and behaviour, in particular the sexually dimorphic New Zealand tree wētā genus Hemideina spp.
She explores the relationship between conservation biology and mātauranga from her lived experience in extended whānau communities of Waikato, Ngāpuhi nui tonu and Tūhoe while also drawing from her roots as a New Zealand woman with Scottish clan origins. Current work includes building an inter-disciplinary team to explore Māori philosophical frameworks in relation to Antarctica in her role as Leader of the Vision Mātauranga programme in research exploring the effectiveness of the Ross Sea Marine Protected Area.
Priscilla supports cultural change and builds inclusivity in science to create broad platforms for intellectual advancement. In 2020 she received an Inspirational Alumna Award from the School of biological Sciences, University of Canterbury.
- Ross Sea Research and Monitoring Programme (Ross-RAMP): is the world's largest MPA effective?
- Indigenous ecological knowledge, introduced species and the new New Zealand environment (Rutherford Discovery Fellowship, Royal Society of New Zealand)
- Kaitiakitanga and Antarctic narratives (Marsden Fund)
- Vision Mātauranga team of Ross Sea Region Research and Monitoring Plan
Wehi PM, van Uitregt V, Scott N, Gillies T, Beckwith J, Rodgers RP & Watene K. (in review). Transforming Antarctic policy and management with an Indigenous Māori lens.
Wehi PM, Brownstein G & Morgan-Richards M 2020. Indigenous plant naming and experimentation reveal a plant-insect relationship in New Zealand forests. Conservation Science and Practice e282.
Wehi PM, Cox MP, Roa T & Whaanga H 2018. Human perceptions revealed by linguistic analysis of Māori oral traditions. Human Ecology 2018: 1–10.
Wehi PM 2009. Indigenous ancestral sayings contribute to modern conservation partnerships: examples using Phormium tenax. Ecological Applications 19:267–275
Farnworth, B., Purdie, S., Wehi, P. M., & Painting, C. J. (2023). Exaggerated mandibles are correlated with enhanced foraging efficacy in male Auckland tree wētā. Biology Letters, 19(11), 20230207. doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2023.0207
Reihana, K. R., Wehi, P. M., Pomare-Pieta, M., Harcourt, N., Ellis, J. I., & Murray, J. M. (2023). Indigitization: Technology as a mode for conservation sustainability and knowledge transfer in indigenous New Zealand communities. Biological Conservation, 285, 110237. doi: 10.1016/j.biocon.2023.110237
Thompson, L., Doogan, H., Thompson, C., Wehi, P., & Johnson, S. (2023). Are there differences in behaviour between the two colour morphs of the mountain stone wētā, Hemideina maori? New Zealand Journal of Zoology. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1080/03014223.2023.2249408
Wehi, P. M., Kamelamela, K. L., Whyte, K., Watene, K., & Reo, N. (2023). Contribution of Indigenous Peoples' understandings and relational frameworks to invasive alien species management. People & Nature, 10508. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1002/pan3.10508
Rayne, A., Arahanga-Doyle, H., Cox, B., Cox, M. P., Febria, C. M., Galla, S. J., … Wehi, P. M., & Steeves, T. E. (2023). Collective action is needed to build a more just science system. Nature Human Behaviour. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1038/s41562-023-01635-4