PROJECT KĀINGA TEAM

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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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JANET STEPHENSON

Janet is a research professor at the Centre for Sustainability, a research centre at the University of Otago.  As a social scientist, she is interested in how society can transition to a sustainable future and the role of culture in driving that change. Her current research includes community adaptation to climate change and low-carbon energy systems. See here for more information. Janet tries to keep her carbon emissions low by growing vegetables, limiting her flying, walking to work and being a vegetarian

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PAORA TAPSELL

Paul is an independent academic researcher and consultant affiliated with the Takarangi Research Group. He is a team leader on five NZ/Australian socially responsible research projects, covering climate change and urban impact on indigenous production/consumption systems, twenty first century importance of kāinga/marae communities; reimagining Pacific navigation and future roles of museums post COVID.

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RUSSELL DEATH

I am a Professor in Freshwater Ecology in the School of Agriculture and Environment at Massey University. I have had nearly 30 years’ experience in ecological research and teaching. My area of expertise is the ecology of stream invertebrates and fish. I have over 100 peer-reviewed publications, 60 conference presentations and have supervised 38 post-graduate research students. I have been a Quinney Visiting Fellow at Utah State University and an International Distinguished Visitor to the University of Birmingham. I was awarded the New Zealand Freshwater Science Medal in 2017 for an outstanding contribution to our understanding and management of freshwaters. Although my primary interest is ecology research I have also been involved in applying that science in water management planning arenas such as the One Plan, Canterbury Regional Plan and Ruataniwha irrigation scheme.

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STEPHEN MCTAGGART

Stephen is a mixed methodological sociologist, action researcher and musician. He holds PhD, Masters and BA (Hons) degrees with the University of Auckland. His mahi focus is the gathering and interpretation of Māori focused data/statistics using a kaupapa Māori research approach. Stephen's current research includes investigating the diasporic geographic movement of individual iwi descendants within New Zealand Aotearoa, developing web based demographic information platforms for Māori and examining the nature of social communication networks for urban Māori youth and connections with the people living close to their ancestral marae. Stephen is also director of McTaggart Research Aotearoa.

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JAMES TURNER

James lives in Kirikiriroa with his family, but is originally from the South Island, born in Whakatū and grew up in Ōtepoti. He has been involved in research in the forestry and agricultural industries for over 20 years, with a PhD in forest economics from the University of Wisconsin. James started at the NZ Forest Research Institute doing research on land use and global forests, and how these are influenced by issues such as illegal logging and carbon markets. In 2010 James joined AgResearch to study and implement approaches to increase science impact through extension, participatory research, and co-development processes.

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SELAI LETICA

Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Porou, Tangata Pasifica

Te Marihi te maunga

Te Huehue te awa

Kaingahoa te Marae

Mataraua tūturu


Selai has a PhD in Environmental Science, majoring in soil science. Selai spent 14 years working in research projects, relationship and science management in two of NZs Crown Research Institutes.  Her background is in nutrient management in farm systems and the operationalisation of values in Māori agribusiness.  Through her connection to the Takarangi Research Group, Selai has recently become interested in the impacts and responses to colonisation by rural marae communities in the context of climate change, land use and cultural reconnection.

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KRUSHIL WATENE

Krushil (Ngāti Manu / Te Hikutu / Ngāti Whātua o Orākei / Tonga) grew up in South Auckland and developed a keen interest in philosophy later in her teens. Through her PhD and various postdoc positions around the world, she is now Associate Professor at Massey University, specialising in moral and political philosophy (our ideas about well-being, development, and justice) with a particular focus on indigenous philosophies. Amongst all of her research she works closely with Māori communities, particularly her own hapū and iwi, to support the revitalisation and sustaining of mātauranga Māori. Before moving to Massey University, she was part of the James Henare Māori Research Centre at the University of Auckland. She was awarded her PhD from the University of St Andrews (Scotland) in 2011.

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RAANIERA TE WHATA

Ko Tautoro te maunga, Ko Kereru te wai Ko Ngāti Rangi, Ngāti Moerewa, Te Whānau a Tuwhakairiora, Te Whānau a Tapaeururangi me Ngāti Pākehā ngā hononga a rohe.  I tupu ake ahau ki te tāwharau o Tautoro, te pito o te whare tapu o Ngāpuhi.  Engari kei te noho ahau ki raro i ngā maru o Whetumatarau; o Hikurangi; o Marotiri; o Titirangi; o Mangahaumi; o Whakapunake; o Mātītī; o Ngātapa inaianei

Raaniera grew up in the rural far north community of Tautoro – In 2016 he returned to his whenua and complete his PhD research (University of Otago). It explored the history of connection of Tautoro hapū to whenua and wai, colonialisation, the disruption to community wellbeing, and community actions to repair relationships to their taonga. It also looked at how kinship cna guide collaborative catchment planning for shared responsibilities of wai. In 2020, Raaniera and his wife moved to Tūranganui-a-Kiwa to welcome their first child – Tārehu Jack. Raaniera maintains inter-hapū liaison on water quality and freshwater management issues for Tautoro. Recently he has been working as a senior adviser with Te Puni Kokoiri Ikaroa Rāwhiti in their whenua Māori team.

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HIRINI TANE

Hirini grew up in the small marae community of Oromahoe in the Bay of Islands, Northland. He completed a doctorate at the University of Otago, Dunedin, exploring the past-present and future of his papakāinga. The general theme of his research interests is understanding something of the relationship between people, land and water. Hirini is also kaiwhakahaere for the website www.maorimaps.com.

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LUCY MATEHAERE

Ko Maungatautari te maunga, ko Waikato te awa, ko Ngāti Raukawa te iwi.
Ko Matehaere te whanau, ko Lucy ahau.
I am an undergraduate student at the University of Auckland. My involvement in the project dates back to December 2019 where I was brought on board to conduct a literature review over the summer break. Currently, I am investigating iwi and hapū management plans and looking specifically at discussion on climate change within these plans. Outside study and research, I train full time for sprint kayaking in the NZ High Performance programme.

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ROCHELLE MACKINTOSH

Rochelle is working towards completing her PhD at Otago University.  Her research explores the utilisation and development of Māori land. She is investigating how a Māori community is responding to climate change and how they are building environmental resilience. Her research examines Māori community leadership and Māori community engagement.  Rochelle has 14 years teaching experience. Her Masters study explored Māori girls’ educational success at bursary level.  She has interests in Te Reo Māori, completing a diploma of Māoritanga at Victoria University and a diploma in Te Reo at Whitireia.

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ALVARO ROMERA

Alvaro lives in Hamilton. He was born in Argentina, but has been living in Aotearoa for more than 20 years. He studied Agricultural Engineering and did a master’s in animal sciences in Argentina, and a PhD modelling farm system at Massey University. He joined AgResearch in 2020, and before that worked at the National Institute for Agricultural Technology in Argentina and for DairyNZ. His research has involved modelling and analysing systems ranging from urine patches right up to regions. In the last few years, he has been using design-based methodologies to try and develop more sustainable agricultural systems.

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CARLTON IRVING

Ko Matiti te Maunga

Ko Waioweka te Awa

Ko Mataatua te Waka

Ko Opeke toku Marae 

Ko Ngati Ira toku hapu

Te Whakatōhea toku Iwi

Ko Carlton Irving toku ingoa

No Opotiki ahau, he uri ahau o Mokomoko. 


I am a currently a medical student, and a Practicing Paramedic but my passion lies in improving Māori health outcomes. Our health is intrinsically linked to the health of our land, our water and the environments in which our people live. I am so pleased to be a part of this important Kaupapa to find solutions for our people today, and the generations to follow.