Manuka plantation at wahi tapu blessing springs, Taipōrutu, Māhia, NZ


Pakuratahi awa, Kaitoke, Remutaka, NZ


Papawhakaritorito, Hua Parakore Family Food Farm, Kaitoke, Remutaka

Hapi Products – Ngā Hua

Products at Hapī Clean Kai Co-Op, Napier, NZ

Taipōrutu site visit

(Left to right) Yvonne Taura, Landowner Mere Whaanga, Jo Smith, Jessica Hutchings, Pahauwera Kaumatua Richard Allen at Taipōrutu, Māhia, NZ

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Storying Kaitiakitanga –
A Kaupapa Māori Land and Water Food Story

Storying Kaitiakitanga is a 15 month kaupapa Māori project funded from the Our Land and Water National Science Challenge, which fosters fresh thinking about economic productivity and environmental wellbeing. Storying Kaitiakitanga focuses on one specific outcome of agricultural and horticultural practices – the production and consumption of food. We seek to tell a Māori Land and Water Food Story centred on the kaupapa of kaitiakitanga. Kaitiakitanga values of guardianship and responsibility can, and do, make a crucial contribution to New Zealand’s agriculture and food sectors. Our project shines light on Māori-led food practices, food communities, businesses and enterprises that balance economic, environmental and cultural aims and objectives. The Māori agricultural and food production sector is a crucial site for developing solutions that are productive economically, while also ensuring that generations to come can enjoy and benefit culturally and ecologically from the resources underpinning agriculture – our lands and waters. Our project develops a Kaupapa Māori Land and Water Food Story “all the way down” to the fundamental connection between tangata, whenua and awa, and the kaitiakitanga obligations underpinning these relations.

Our interviews with diverse Māori food producers, retailers, and enterprises, will help further understandings of the critical and fundamental dimensions kaitiakitanga – the care and guardianship of lands and waters in all their interconnected realities. At a time when Aotearoa/New Zealand faces challenges as a primary producer within a highly competitive global climate, we argue that communicating and normalising kaitiakitanga values and practices more broadly can enhance and extend existing productivity paradigms, and help identify new niche markets for Aotearoa/New Zealand food more generally, in ways that serve economic, environment and cultural objectives.


Our Kaupapa Māori Project Team:

Project Co-Leaders: Associate Professor Jo Smith, Dr Jessica Hutchings. Kairangahau: Yvonne Taura; Storyteller Design Consultant; Desna Whaanga Schollum; Rōpū Tikanga Rangahau Members: Garth Harmsworth and Dr Shaun Awatere. For further details contact: Jessica Hutchings –


Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Huirapa, Gujarati


Project Co-Leader 

Dr Jessica Hutchings (Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Huirapa, Gujarati) is a kaupapa Māori researcher, activist, and hua parakore grower living on a small whānau farm in Kaitoke North of Wellington. She is an advocate for Māori food sovereignty and has been an active member of Te Waka Kai Ora (Māori Organics Collective) for the last decade. Her PhD is in Environmental Studies and she has worked for the last two decades in the Māori research sector leading and supporting kaupapa Māori research to deliver transformation across diverse Māori communities. She is a published author, with her last two books winning the non-fiction category at the Māori Book Awards. She is passionate about telling Māori food stories that are grounded kaupapa.


Ngāiterangi, Ngāti Ranginui,
Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Ngāti Uenuku,
Ngāti Hauā


Yvonne Taura (Ngāiterangi, Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Ngāti Uenuku, Ngāti Hauā) is a kairangahau Māori for Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research, Hamilton. Her research interests are working collaboratively with iwi and hapū on various projects that implement kaupapa Māori approaches and processes. Most recently, Yvonne co-edited Te Reo o Te Repo, a wetland handbook that focused on Māori values and aspirations for wetland restoration.Yvonne has started her PhD with the University of Waikato, her topic will explore empowering iwi and hapū to utilise mātauranga Māori based science tools and frameworks in restoration and monitoring, in order to enact their kaitiakitanga responsibilities.


Waitaha, Kāti Māmoe, Kāi Tahu


Project Co-Leader 

Jo Smith (Waitaha, Kāti Māmoe, Kāi Tahu) has a longstanding interest in understanding how media shapes worldviews, relationships, and identities. For Jo, media also offers storytelling tools that can generate new forms of understanding and ways of being in the world. She has a Film Studies PhD from her hometown university (Otago) and currently works in the Media Studies programme at Victoria University of Wellington where she teaches Māori media, and issues connected with race, ethnicity, and identity. The author of Māori Television: the first ten years (2016, AUP), Jo has recently contributed to kaupapa Māori projects involving decolonisation and the media, Māori agribusinesses, and soil health.


 Ngāti Tūwharetoa

Rōpū Tikanga Rangahau

Garth Harmsworth (Ngāti Tūwharetoa) is a senior Māori environmental scientist with over 30 years experience. He has pioneered much of the collaborative Māori research for Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research and across the NZ science sector, has led over 40 kaupapa Māori and science projects, given over 100 conference and workshop presentations, and produced to date about 100 refereed publications. Garth is a key researcher in the development of knowledge bases/information systems, bridging mātauranga Māori and western science, working with Māori communities and organisations, building Māori research capacity, and has extensive experience and skills in environmental planning and resource management.


Rongomaiwahine, Pahauwera, Kahungunu

Storyteller Design Consultant

Desna Whaanga-Schollum (Ngāti Rongomaiwahine/Pahuwera/Kahungunu) collaborates with a wide variety of communities, business professionals, artists, and academics to achieve results that effect change in people, practice, and place. Chairperson of Ngā Aho Māori Design Professionals, Desna also serves on several design and arts governance boards and is actively involved in Māori discourse via research, exhibitions and wānanga. Her Science Communication Master’s Thesis (Otago), is titled “Taipōrutu, Taonga Tuku Iho. Articulating a Mātauranga Māori Sense of Place”. The thesis reflects on the complex system of interconnected factors contributing to the current relationship between Māori and their land base.


Ngāti Porou


Rōpū Tikanga Rangahau

Shaun Awatere (Ngāti Porou) is a kairangahau Māori with Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research, Hamilton. His work involves improving the incorporation of Māori values into economic decision-making for collective assets that will enable Māori organisations to make more kaupapa Māori attuned decisions. Shaun’s mahi involves providing holistic assessments for decision-makers that identify the potential impacts of proposed investment options on the economic, biophysical and kaupapa Māori based outcomes for collective assets. His mahi also identifies the trade-offs between short-term gain from expanding production and the additional costs of environmental mitigation versus the long-term benefits from managing collective asstes in a more sustainable manner consistent with the kaupapa Māori principles of kaitiakitanga, manaakitanga and whakatipu rawa.

Kaupapa Māori Land and Water Food Stories

See below for individual kaupapa Māori land and water food stories that we have developed in the form of research summaries. We see these research summaries as Kaitiaki Tools that Māori agrifood producers might use to shine light on their practices. A forthcoming journal article will provide a synthesis of the research summaries and futher explore the shared kaupapa found in these stories. These stories share the moemoeā of participants who grow, produce or sell food as expressions of kaitiakitanga within their land and waterscapes. Some of the stories tell of how kōura grown on whānau lands can become an ahikaa catalyst; māra kai initiatives could be the pathway to greater tino rangatiratanga; building a clean kai co-op through whanaungatanga principles could mean inspiring the next generation to do things differently.

Awanui Huka Pak

Read about the largest Māori kiwifruit entity operating in Aotearoa. Featuring the kōrero of Te Awanui Huka Pak chairperson, Ratahi Cross, we learn about the cultivation areas around Mount Maunganui, the importance of observing, listening to, and engaging with the lands you hold mana over and how tikanga makes kaitiakitanga.

Cathy Taite-Jamieson and BioFarm products

Her organic yoghurt is available in most supermarkets in Aotearoa but she only milks around 100 cows. Read more here about the Māori and biodynamic values that inform Cathy Taite-Jamieson’s sustainable dairy farming practices in the Manawatū.

Hapī Clean Kai Co-Op

More than just another cafe in Napier, Hapī Clean Kai Co-op offers nutritional and delicious food and drinks that celebrate the wellbeing dimensions of kai. With a committment to sourcing the best organic and ethcially-grown produce possible, Gretta Carney and her team offer food that has hauora benefits. Read on for more about Hapī’s values and practices.

John Reid

Senior Research Fellow Dr John Reid has worked for many years in the area of Māori land development, historical trauma and sustainable iwi development. Taking care of the relationships between lands, waters and peoples is a primary focus for John. Learn more about his work with Ngāi Tahu and his hope for a rise in kaitiakitanga practices that move beyond guardianship to acknowledge the mutually binding nature of landscapes, waterways and peoples.


Food has always been cultivated at the Koukourārata Gardens on Banks Peninsula. Today, people like Manaia Cunningham are reviving the cultivation of Māori potatoes and are developing hapū gardens as a pathway to greater kai sovereignty and freedom from the idea that a high-paying salary is what one needs to have a good life.

Onenui Station

Read about a sheep and beef station on an East Coast Peninsula who express kaitiakitanga by diversifying their land-use practices and by entering into collaborations that will bring long term benefits to their people.


Kōura is an endangered freshwater species that is experiencing an increased national profile. Te Māhia Peninsula landholder Mere Whaanga, with the help of fellow resident Richard Allen, are developing kōura ponds on Mere’s whānau lands, Taipōrutu. Read on to find out more about Mere’s vision for her whenua and her whānau and the role kōura will play.

Whenua Honey

Learn how an enterprising whānau are contributing to the honey industry through whanaungatanga values. Laney and Eugene Hunia involve their children in all aspects of their beekeeping industry and they also help foster relationships between East Cape Māori landowners and existing beekeepers keen to access the mānuka grown on whānau land blocks.

Poutama Trust

Read about the role of a Māori business development service provider and how Māori values such as manaakitanga and kaitiakitanga have a role to play in supporting innovation in the Māori food and beverage sectors. Poutama CEO Richard Jones talks about the networking and collaboration opportunities they provide. Collaborations between Māori as well as with non-Māori entities helps build scale, expand market opportunities and develop operation practices that hold kaupapa at their heart.

Caleb Royal

Learn more about how a strip of land near the Kāpiti Express motorway is being run sustainably by local Māori who have reclaimed this land to help feed their marae and to foster the health of wetlands and tuna. Read on for more about how Caleb Royal acts as a kaitiaki for his people and their whenua on the Kāpiti Coast.

Listen to Cathy Taite Jamison from Biofarm talk with Kathryn Ryan from Nine to Noon about her kaitiakitanga within her production practices and her story of coming to the whenua with her whānau.