Tracing the Connectivity of Indigenous Marine Taonga Species

Ashleigh Browne - IIRC20
Wednesday, November 18, 2020

The Moana Project, led by MetOcean Solutions, is a national research programme that is being conducted over 5 years (2018 – 2023). The principal outcome is to advance understanding of ocean circulation, connectivity and risks from marine extremes to support a sustainable seafood sector in New Zealand.

A key aim of the Moana Project is to understand the connectivity of Indigenous marine taonga species (treasures) at national to regional scales. A focus of this effort is on Green Lipped Mussels (Kuku) in the Bay of Plenty and Northland regions which have been identified as key spat catching/ farming areas. Using a transdisciplinary case study approach, genetic and microchemical findings from the analysis will be guided by local Indigenous ocean knowledge and compared with larval dispersal models using latest ocean circulation models to provide information on connections of mussel in these regions.

The Whakatōhea iwi (tribe) has partnered with the Moana Project as a case study research participant to understand the connectedness of kuku populations in their marine territory (rohe moana). Whakatōhea maintain its responsibility as kaitaki (guardians) over its natural resources and also have commercial interests in an offshore aquaculture mussel farm in the Bay of Plenty. With commercial and cultural interests in the marine space, Whakatōhea are mindful of the need to be prepared to adapt marine farming methods to retain a competitive edge in a changing marine environment, whilst ensuring long term prosperity and protection of kuku as a marine taonga species.

To progress research aims of the Moana Project, Whakatōhea is leading field work logistics by facilitating the Indigenous engagement process for inclusion of affiliated iwi into the research and guide scientific sampling processes. We argue the inclusion of Mātauranga Maori (Maori knowledge systems) into the Moana Project through a partnership with Whakatōhea serves as an exemplar for Indigenising marine research to support the aspirations, values, and knowledge of Indigenous Peoples