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Building Māori community climate change resilience

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Project Kāinga is a five-year research programme interested in how marae communities can shape a future that builds community and environmental resilience in the face of climate change. We are working with seven communities to develop tikanga-based, economic and community-relevant responses to climate change. It also aims to address other cross-generational issues like food sovereignty, water quality, energy security.


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Project Kāinga Inaugural Hui: Te Pakira marae, Whakarewarewa

July 16-18, 2021

On a wet July weekend we held our first Project Kainga hui of research community teams from across the motu. The hui began on Te Pākira marae, Whakarewarewa hosted by Ngāti Wāhiao/Tuhourangi. Present were representatives from partner marae-based teams, including Karetū, Whirinaki, Tautoro, Waitangi, Tumunui, Mataraua and Te Rereatukāhia; and researchers from Otago and Massey universities, Ag-Research, Takarangi, McTaggart and Ōrangahau. The hui was an opportunity to share data and observations; provide insights into potential opportunities and assist managing current or upcoming challenges.  The kōrero exchanged under the roofs of Wāhiao and on the mountainside woolshed at Tumunui. The hui capstone was on Te Rereatukāhia marae near Katikati,  hosted by Ngāi Tamawhariua elders under the roof of their wharekai, Whakahinga. A sense of whakawhanaungatanga binded us as we concluded the hui with the realization that marae communities are not isolated, nor alone. They can come together, share resources and ideas and innovatively begin addressing both the trauma of colonization and the accelerating impact of climate change for everyone’s benefit.

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Kāinga Case Studies

Project Kāinga focuses on several Māori communities throughout Aotearoa. Our team are interested in community understandings, challenges and aspirations as they relate to climate changes. Over five years the team will investigate the challenges they face, how they navigate various states of resourcelessness, future planning,  vulnerability, resilience and

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Foggy Forest

Hikurangi Enterprises

Te Rereatukahia

Waitangi and Oromahoe


Project Kāinga Team


Merata Kawharu

Merata Kawharu (Ngāti Whātua, Ngāpuhi) is an academic, researcher and writer who is currently Research Professor at the Centre for Sustainability, University of Otago, Dunedin. After completing a doctorate in anthropology at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, she has taught at Auckland and Otago universities, and published widely in the areas of indigenous leadership and resource management. She is very excited to have the opportunity to work with Māori communities on climate change and leadership. She is particularly keen on helping to shape up unique ‘Kainga innovation plans’ based on community aspirations and tackling questions like how to engage young community members and also mobilise a multi-located community of descendants to become involved in and shape responses to the challenges of climate change. She is also very grateful to have the support of MBIE to enable this legacy-making work take place. Merata has been a consultant to the UN and UNESCO and is a member of the New Zealand Geographic Board. Her books include Whariki, with Paul Tapsell, Whenua: Managing our Resources, Tahuhu Kōrero: The Sayings of Taitokerau and Maranga Mai! Te Reo and Marae in Crisis? In 2012 she was made a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) for services to Māori education.

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