National | Climate Change

Indigenous-led blue carbon regime secures $4mil

Iwi who are part of the Hinemoana Halo Ocean Initiative have secured financial support for their work on an indigenous-led blue carbon regime.

Seven iwi are part of the initiative and have been presenting their work to American investors, and technical specialists from Conservation International and Blue Green Futures, who champion sustainability, economics and nature-based solutions.

“We are very proud to announce that we have secured $4 million to seek finance for our iwi to get going in this space and to design what Hinemoana Halo is going to look like,” said Mere Takoko, Vice-President of Conservation International Aotearoa.

Blue Green Futures co-founder Ralph Chaami believes Māori are making headway on a blue carbon regime, where carbon stored in coastal and marine ecosystems helps mitigate climate change.

“Once the world finds out, this is Māori-led [and] Māori controlled, which by definition is for nature, everyone is going to want to come on board. And you're going to find many more allies than you thought you had. This is the holy grail if you like,” he said.

The Hinemoana Halo Oceans Initiative promotes indigenous protection and monitoring of NZ’s rivers, coastal areas and high seas, employing traditional practices and modern science.

“One of the key things we are doing is looking at creating mobile rāhui across the blue corridors or ara moana, the pathways used by migrating whales,” said Takoko. “Our technicians here are looking at building an ocean credit around those whales, and the eco-services that they provide to our oceans.”

A monitoring system of long-term coastal activities is also being developed.

“This enables us to protect and care for these places for all of us,” said Te Rūnanga o Te Rarawa chair, Haami Piripi.

Iwi in the initiative also have an ambitious goal to manage the country's biodiversity.

“It's not appropriate in this day and age that the kāwana (government) thinks that it can still control those ocean environments. Give it back to us, we can look after the world's biodiversity. It's about giving us the tools and resource we need to make sure these resources stay in place,” said Takoko.

The Hinemoana Halo Oceans Initiative says its next phase of work will be creating a plan to accelerate the recovery of marine ecosystems.