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Māori Values

In Te Ao Māori (‘the Māori World’), restoration projects include biocultural values which intersect cultural, societal, economic and environmental outcomes. However, the profiling of urban community restoration projects has focussed on non-Māori groups and projects. Little is known about the characteristics of Māori-based restoration within urban contexts, and how Māori restoration values and priorities are applied. Our Māori Values research team are working to address the following four questions:

  1. What are the characteristics, restoration aims, and activities undertaken by Māori restoration groups?
  2. How do Māori who are living in cities execute kaitiakitanga when they reside in another iwi’s jurisdiction?
  3. Do Māori restoration groups have similar aims and implementation plans as other community based environmental restoration groups?
  4. How can cities and restoration projects facilitate increasing connectivity and practicing of kaitiakitanga through restoration projects?

To determine the characteristics of Māori engagement in urban environmental restoration projects, restoration objectives, and activities across three cities (Wellington, Hamilton and Nelson), we built on results of an existing national survey that was conducted on non-Māori urban community-based environmental restoration groups. Our survey contained similar methodology to investigate how Māori in urban settings engage with restoration.

We then focussed on the strategies developed by a mana whenua-led case study; focussing on how this group prioritised restoration goals, and how they balanced ecological restoration (e.g. the protection of rare species) with biocultural restoration.

To provide a deeper understanding of the range of factors that affect how Māori execute their kaitiakitanga, we conducted semi-structured interviews and focus groups across three cities. We particularly sought to understand how Māori execute their kaitiakitanga when living in their home towns/cities and when they live in another iwi’s jurisdiction.

Increase connectivity and practicing of katiakitanga
Urban restoration projects present opportunities to reconnect iwi with opportunities to practice kaitiakitanga. Using information gathered in our surveys and interviews, we are identifying opportunities to practice kaitiakitanga, and opportunities in our partner sites for restoration of species and practices. We are analysing the variation by site and Māori group origin to inform restoration initiatives in each city, improve engagement and kaitiakitanga by tangata whenua, and increase opportunities for Māori where they live.

Study sites
The study sites for the Māori Values research project are:

  • Hamilton
  • Wellington
  • Nelson

Watch this space! Research findings available early 2021.

Research Team



Erana Walker