An Iwi-led Research Project concerning the health, wellbeing and mauri of the Wairoa River and its tributaries (January 2020-December 2021)

Ko Wairoa tangata e haere, Ko Wairoa ia e kore e haere
People of the Wairoa depart life, but the Wairoa current never leaves

Research Objectives

To address questions of importance to the iwi, hapū and whānau communities of the rivers as the basis by which their contribution to increasing the health, wellbeing and mauri of the rivers may be achieved.


The development of meaningful knowledge derived from mātauranga Māori which can be used to inform farm environment plans of the Wairoa Catchment – these plans being a critical mechanism by which tangible change in the environment can be achieved.


Research approach

  • Interviews with kaumātua and other knowledgeable people.
  • Hui wānanga conducted upon marae and other significant places within the study area.
  • Documentary research in public and private collections (e.g. whakapapa books, manuscripts, letters, publication, reports)
  • Site Visits

The project enables these communities to:

  • State what they regard to be the critical issues and questions regarding the awa and its health.
  • Consider ways in which their knowledge, people, organisations, assets and resources may be engaged to assist and support improvements in the health, wellbeing, and mauri of the awa.
  • Pose research questions of interest to them and formulate meaningful answers to those questions.
  • Develop methodologies and ways of answering research questions engaging peer review, enabling an appropriate level of rigour and conducted according to their ethics, tikanga and approached to knowledge creation.
  • Consider ways by which the benefits and outcomes of the research might be applied and shared.
  • Build iwi research capacity and capability.


Research Questions

Question 1
What is the traditional tangata whenua (iwi, hapū, whānau) view of the river and its tributaries?
Question 2
What is the tangata whenua (iwi, hapū, whānau) view of change in the rivers since the 19th century?
Question 3
What is the tangata whenua (iwi, hapū, whānau) view of the river now?

  • What do they believe needs to be done now?
  • How can we measure the mauri of the river?
  • How can the tangata whenua (iwi, hapū, whānau) help with improving the river and its tributaries?

Research Team

Dr Charles Royal

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Celia Witehira

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Robyn Kāmira

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Hineāmaru Davies-Lyndon

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Research Committee

Auriole Ruka

Northland Regional Council

Fiona Kemp

Te Uri o Hau, Environs

Tāoho Patuawa

Te Roroa Group

Dr Te Kawehau Hoskins

Independent Māori Academic Researcher; Ngāti Hau