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Movements To Promote Taitamariki As Kaitiaki In Aotearoa

Community groups and environmental organisations are guiding and equipping rangatahi to be protectors of the environment, with an intention to blend mātauranga Māori and Western science.

Recent findings of a study, led by Dr Tara McAllister, of centre of research excellence Te Pūnaha Matatini, revealed Māori and Pacific scientists are under-represented in New Zealand science.

Foundation North, the community trust for Auckland and Northland, and its Gulf Innovation Fund Together (G.I.F.T) programme are drawing attention to the projects they support that are actively promoting taitamariki in their role of kaitiaki into new pathways.

“We’re excited by the movement across our rohe from community groups, hapu and iwi, and environmental organisations to weave mātauranga Māori and western science together,” said Foundation North CEO Peter Tynan. “With a strategic focus on whakahou taiao /regenerative environment, the Foundation supports holistic approaches that conserve, preserve and restore the natural environment in our region. Initiatives proposed by tangata whenua that connect social and environmental practices are a priority.”

Te Toki Voyaging Trust’s Rangatahi Kaitiaki project was funded by the Foundation’s G.I.F.T initiative, set up in 2016 to support innovation to restore the mauri / life essence of Tīkapa Moana Te Moananui-ā-Toi /the Hauraki Gulf. The project utilised Ngāi Tai iwi leaders, Te Toki Voyaging Trust waka hourua facilitators and an all-Māori team of scientists to work alongside Ngāi Tai rangatahi to support them to be kaitiaki of the environment around Umupuia Marae. Participants walked the land, followed waterways, examined threatened cockle beds and sedimentation in the bay.

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Another example of kaitiakitanga and enabling rangatahi was evident during a recent Ngāti Pāoa wānanga at Ruapotaka marae.

Another G.I.F.T funded project, The Waiheke Marine Project is a mana whenua and community-led initiative to protect and regenerate the Waiheke Island marine environment. Around 35 Ngāti Pāoa descendants spoke about issues linked with the health of their whānau, hapū and iwi including ways to enable a pathway for rangatahi that is rich with Ngāti Pāoa kōrero.

Foundation North also funded Ngā Tangata o Te Hopua Wai, a 2ha piece of land divided into a school garden, a large scale market garden and whanau and individual plots. The intention of the Ngāti Kuri Trust Board is to build a sense of community and belonging and enable rangatahi to learn and share knowledge about gardening, nature and cooking.

“We are proud to support these projects which see mātauranga Māori woven with Western science. It’s crucial that we enable and help connect young people with this knowledge, and increase the number of Māori and Pacific scientists. There is hope of change ahead,” said Mr Tynan.

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