CSAFE’s involvement in environmental management began with Professor Henrik Moller’s long-running research collaboration with Rakiura Māori, Kia Mau Te Tītī Mo Ake Tōnu Atu or Keep the Tītī Forever (1996-2007, MSI-funded project). In Climate Change Impacts (2005-2008, MSI-funded project), CSAFE teamed with the National Institute for Water & Atmospheric Research (NIWA) to examine a link between birder harvest success and the upcoming Southern Oscillation Index. A further related project looked at marine ecology perturbations, climate change, and the sustainability of the tītī harvest (2010, UORG-funded project). Te Honongā o ngā Ao (2007-2008, MSI-funded project) sought to maximise uptake of the research results and support the Rakiura Māori community to decide how it can best respond to climate change impacts and increasing numbers of people with birding rights.
Relationships developed from the tītī project, and other consultation and networking led to the design of a new umbrella research programme, Te Tiaki Mahinga Kai, and its subsequent funding (2007-2011, MSI-funded project). A related project built research capacity among emerging Māori researchers, who undertook research for communities that aligned with their own identified research agendas (2008, BRCSS-funded project). An additional project identified barriers and solutions to conducting research from a ‘flax roots’ level in local customary fisheries (2008-2009, funded by Ngā Pae o Te Māramatanga). A post-doctoral project, Ka ora te whenua, ka ora te tangata, explored the role that whenua and moana play in the lives and wellbeing of tangata whenua (2007-2010, MSI-funded project).
Further collaborative research projects have been undertaken specifically within the Ngāi Tahu rohe. A major project has been the development of a Marine Cultural Health Index as a local monitoring tool, using the traditional knowledge of Ngāi Tahu kaitiaki (2007-2010, funded by Te Ruanga o Ngāi Tahu). Smaller projects have looked specifically at damage to toheroa from vehicle use on beaches, and restoration methods for toheroa and pāua, utilising traditional knowledge (MFish/Ōraka Aparima Rūnaka, MFish/Ōnuku & Wairewa Rūnanga). Two fishing surveys have been undertaken for Ngāi Tahu, one looking at fishing effort and success on Akaroa taiāpure and Te Whaka a Te Wera mātaitai management areas (2007-2009, funded by Canterbury University), and the other on East Otago taiāpure and Puna Wai Tōriki Mātaitai management areas (2009-2010, funded by Ngāi Tahu).
Some of the research in this stream involves iwi from elsewhere in Aotearoa. Māori Knowledge and the RMA (2008-2011, MSI-funded project) set out to develop a ‘toolbox’ to enhance inclusion of Māori concerns and values into the resource consent process. Te Hiringa Tangata Ki Te Tai Timu Ki Te Tai Pari (2009-2013, MSI-funded project) focuses on restoration approaches to North Island coastal forest ecosystems where their seabird populations have been devastated.
Tirohia he Huarahi: Plans Power Partnerships (2009-2012, Marsden-funded project), a research collaboration with Canadian colleagues, takes a high-level overview of the complex legal and political situation with indigenous management of land and marine resources. Knowledge Use in Co-Management (2011-2014, funded by Marsden Fast Start) examines the use of indigenous knowledge in co-management arrangements in New Zealand and Australia.
One offshoot of the Kia Mau Te Tītī Mo Ake Tōnu Atu research project also concerns climate change, specifically its effects on El Niño and La Niña fluctuations. This project (Climate Change Impacts on Māori) has huge impacts on the sustainability of tītī harvesting and thereby on Rakiura Māori culture, but also on wider implications for agriculture, fishing, public health and environment for all countries around the Pacific Rim.