Sharing indigenous knowledge and experiences on marine biosecurity

Successful four-day marine biosecurity wānanga
Indigenous people from Canada, Hawaii and Australia met at Hungahungatoroa Marae in Matapihi last month as part of a four-day noho (live-in) to discuss how we can be more prepared for the impending threats to our moana, people and culture.

Organised by Manaaki Te Awanui, an independent research group based in Tauranga, in collaboration with NIWA and the University of Waikato, the first few days of the event focussed on how indigenous people are dealing with challenges and opportunities in marine biosecurity, and the changes being witnessed to kaimoana and our local environments.

Māori are not unfamiliar with introduced marine species.  For many years our local iwi have dealt with non-native marine species in our moana (ocean) and some have even established themselves as integral parts of the cultural sea-scape of New Zealand.  However, with the increased pressure from a growing international shipping transport system, the threat of introduced marine invasive species is on the rise.

On day four, members of the public were also invited to hear from speakers about the current state of marine biosecurity.   Carlton Bidois, Co-chair of the Tauranga Moana Biosecurity Capital (TMBC) spoke about the need for indigenous people to partner up with government to ensure they are not left outside during a biosecurity response, and to also work closely with universities to influence research that combines western science with mātauranga Māori.

The highlight of the event came in the form of a video demonstrating the cultural significance of native crabs to the people of Ngai te Rangi, followed by a visit to get up and close to the Asian Paddle Crab monitoring programme being conducted in the Tauranga Harbour by researchers from the University of Waikato.