Indigenous Agroecology

Funding Body Ng? Pae o te M?ramatanga
Total Contract Value $600,000
Start Date April 2012
End Date
March 2014
Principal Investigator
Dr Marion Johnson, Centre for Sustainability, University of Otago
Research Team
Maui Hudson, Te Kotahi Research Institute; Jamie Ataria, Cawthron Institute; Olivier Champeau, Cawthron Institute; Janice Lord, Botany Department, University of Otago; CillaWehi, Centre for Sustainability, University of Otago; Tremane Barr, Te R?nanga o Ng?i Tahu and Lincoln University; Desna Whaanga-Schollum, Centre for Sustainability and Science Communication Department, University of Otago.

Brief Abstract

Indigenous Agroecology is an opportunity for m?tauranga (the M?ori knowledge system) to inform and generate innovation in farm practices.

Indigenous Agroecology (He Ahuwhenua Taketake) will create a unique low-input farming model underpinned by indigenous knowledge science and technology.

It will be responsive to community concerns and record local knowledge that is rapidly disappearing.

Its primary research goals are to improve stock health, the health and biodiversity of farm waterways, while aligning m?tauranga and science.

It will develop an economically viable, multi-functional working model of agricultural stewardship, which supplies unique farm products with a low chemical signature, to meet a growing global demand.

Our questions

  • How can M?tauranga M?ori inform the development of Indigenous Agroecology?
  • How can science combine with traditional knowledge to achieve the goals of clean water, healthy land, healthy produce and a sustainable resilient farming system?

Our objectives

  • To record traditional knowledge of land and water management with respect to animal health and mahinga kai (food production)
  • To identify indigenous perspectives on biodiversity, the recollection of land use, management and historical
  • To align scientific methodology with traditional knowledge to develop and demonstrate a robust model of Indigenous Agroecology as a viable farm system which reflects M?ori principles and kaitiakitanga (guardianship of the environment) and supports the cultural and economic welfare of M?ori families and communities.

Full Abstract

Indigenous Agroecology (He Ahuwhenua Taketake) is an opportunity for m?tauranga M?ori to inform and generate innovation in farm systems which are insensitive to environmental and social concerns.

Indigenous Agroecology aims to identify and develop a unique ethic of farm stewardship, with a focus on guardianship of the land and the waters that flow through it, based on the traditional and contemporary experience of M?ori agricultural practitioners.

The long-term aim is to invoke kaitiakitanga and manage the land to produce farm products that are linked to place, grown as naturally as possible with a low chemical signature, and therefore aligned with a growing global demand.

One of the major barriers to livestock productivity in low input but economically viable systems is the maintenance of animal health.

Rongo? offers exciting potential for low-cost maintenance of stock health and for promotion of biodiversity.

Biodiversity losses under industrial agriculture reduce the ability for tangata whenua to express their cultural practices.

Although there is a growing understanding of habitats and their components, enhancement of indigenous biodiversity on productive lands is more likely to succeed if it is done in partnership with agriculture and is understood to bestow benefits.

Agricultural practice is dependent upon water. Indigenous Agroecology brings a ?ki uta ki tai? approach, highlighting the inter-relationship between water and land at a catchment level, and looks for better ways to manage the land to protect the water and its ?stock? of kai.

Knowledge sharing

This research was inspired by members of a community expressing their wish that knowledge gained by their tipuna could be found or rediscovered.

Other people expressed the desire to farm their land differently, others to echo their ancestry in their daily lives in an economically feasible manner.

Indigenous Agroecology seeks to begin to answer the questions and reflect those answers back to the communities through a variety of means:

  • Kapu t? methodology is informal and encourages a two-way flow of information.
  • Hui and workshops will be held with communities.
  • The concept will be introduced to the wider public through the media and popular journals and to academics and practitioners via presentations and peer reviewed publications.

This is the beginning of the development of a concept that delivers to many members of society and to which all can contribute.