Summit discusses kaitiakitanga over profit in Māori land uses

The biggest food and fibre sector summit in Aotearoa started yesterday in Christchurch. E Tipu The Boma Agri Summit 2022 is tackling critical kaupapa, shaping the future of New Zealand's primary industries.

Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research kaihautū Māori research impact leader Nikki Harcourt (Waikato, Maniapoto) talked about kaupapa Māori decision-making at the summit.

She said the summit would promote the empowerment of Māori landowners to make decisions about land use opportunities that can be taken in the context of climate change.

Harcourt said there was a special focus on biodiversity looking at indigenous species and Manaaki Whenua was there to raise awareness by providing important data and information to allow Māori landowners to make the right decisions for them.

“The land use assessment is based on a Māori worldview or a kaupapa Māori approach, beginning with the values and aspirations of our landowners and it privileges Māori ways of thinking about impact of various management activities”.

"It's very much a holistic tikanga Māori values-driven approach."

Harcourt and Shaun Awatere developed a Māori land use tool with land trusts and incorporations, which she said helped them to make decisions about alternative land use and opportunities that delivered on their aspirations. "So it's a framework that guides users to rank and prioritise different land uses based on their perceived potential impact.

"We actually identified three overarching values because they resonated with the hapu and whanau we worked with but these can be customised to suit the user so if, for example, we think of something like kanaka oil production, we might rank it higher for its impact and ability to heal the land - one of the kaitiakitanga considerations - than intensive grazing because kanuka binds soil, so it mitigates erosion.".


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Harcourt said that there are many ways that this kaupapa can be approached in terms of what is assessed and how it’s assessed in relation to land management.

“Instead of worrying about how much is going to be produced or how many dollars are going to be generated we also look at kaitiakitanga considerations”.

“This includes the potential impacts on the composition and abundance of our medicinal species and our mahina kai species as well as strengthening or relationships with communities”.

Harcourt said that the approach is holistic with tikanga Māori lead, so instead of being profit-driven the land management is values driven.