Research partnership focuses on kai sovereignty and security for Te Whakatōhea Māori Trust Board

03 July 2023 | News

Te Whare Wānaka o Aoraki Lincoln University and the Whakatōhea Māori Trust Board have been granted $249,948 from the Government’s Te Pūnaha Hihiko: Vision Mātauranga Capability Fund, to explore and develop a long-term spatial plan for multi-generational kai sovereignty and security with the eastern Bay of Plenty iwi.

The research partnership will comprise Dr Shannon Davis, Richard Morris, Isobel Happy and Professor Pablo Gregorini from Lincoln University’s Centre of Excellence: Designing Future Productive Landscapes, Dr Te Kahautu Maxwell, Louisa Erikson, Hope Hata and Rik Jones from the Whakatōhea Māori Trust Board, and Dr. Charles Merfield from Merfield Agronomy Ltd.

Focused on strategic spatial planning for nutritional security, agroecological resilience planning and educational outreach, the project comes at a pivotal juncture in the modern history of Te Whakatōhea. It builds on the mahi Te Whakatōhea have been undertaking with regards to iwi kai security, supporting the current and future nutritional needs of whānau, working to improve the wellbeing and health outcomes for their whānau.

Central to this mahi is whānau connection to the whenua and te taiao. The research partnership will focus on developing a kaupapa Māori methodology, strategic spatial plan and guidelines for Te Whakatōhea to enable the iwi to achieve their aim of long-term food security and sovereignty over the supply of their kai and kai mātauranga.

The partnership represents a profound opportunity to utilise and strategically implement the mātauranga and living memory of Te Whakatōhea kaumātua regarding historic kai growing within the rohe. Focusing on inter-generational teaching, alongside state-of-the-art Western science, the project will address long-term planning for kai sovereignty and security at whānau, hapū and iwi scale.

The research team will use the Te Pūhana Hihiko funding to better understand the current needs and aspirations of the iwi through gathering and recording how kai sovereignty issues currently impact the lives of whānau. Iwi-led goals for future kai sovereignty will then be developed, identifying the current and future enablers and barriers to kai sovereignty within the rohe. Through the co-development of kai landscape scenarios, different food futures will be illustrated and evaluated. Finally, together, the team will co-develop a long-term, multi-generational spatial plan for kai sovereignty and security, supporting Te Whakatōhea to plan for and implement productive food landscapes as part of their long-term community planning.

Dr Davis explains: “Of the four basic requirements for life – air, water, shelter and food – only food is consistently left off the urban planning agenda when thinking about our cities and settlements – the places where most of us live."

Food production was once an integral part of neighbourhood and papakāinga living, however Aotearoa, like many other nations, has actively planned food production out of our settlements. In Aotearoa, and for Māori especially, this loss of connection with whenua and kai has critically diminished their ability to exercise food sovereignty.

“Our research will develop a tangata whenua-led Strategic Spatial Plan for Te Whakatōhea, which will comprise a set of guidelines for the establishment of a multi-generational food production spatial plan.”

The joint research project is for an initial period of two years, starting on 1June 2023.

Dr Davis believes the guidelines developed by the research partnership between the Whakatōhea Māori Trust Board and Lincoln University will be able to contribute significantly to Te Whakatōhea’s objective to rebuild kai sovereignty for their whānau within their rohe, while at the same time expanding Lincoln University’s expertise in designing future productive landscapes for Aotearoa.

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