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Mana whenua and Waiheke community collaborate for marine conservation

2 min read

76 people from diverse interests come together at the Future Search event. Photo: Supplied

A multi-day event in Waiheke saw 76 people from diverse interests come together to find agreed ways to protect and regenerate the island’s marine environment.

Titled Future Search, the event was organised by the Waiheke Marine Project (WMP), who invited mana whenua, scientists, locals, youth, conservationists, agencies, fishers and boaties, land interests, and marine businesses.

The WMP began in April 2019 after a dedicated group of people from the Waiheke Collective became a sub-group and held a series a community meetings to call for volunteers to protect the marine environment.

The findings from the event will be presented during a public expo at MORRA hall on 26 November.

Future Search follows a methodology for community decision-making around complex issues and has been developed and used around the world over many decades.

Lucy Tukua of Ngāti Paoa said one of the most important drivers was whakawhanaungatanga, building and deepening our relationships to one another and to the environment.

“Many here have shared with me that this is the first time they’ve seen locals and experts coming together and talking under the same roof in this way,” she said.

“Our whakatauki ‘Waiheke ki uta, ki tai, ki tua’ extends from the mountains to the sea and beyond. We are asking how we can be good ancestors for tomorrow; it’s about leaving a legacy for future generations.”

Over the course of three days, the participants determined nine broad common statements and began identifying action plans for each.

Department of Conservation (DOC) community treaty implementation ranger Jeremy Robb said Treaty partnership is important to the success of the WMP and it is clear from the kōrero at the hui that Mātauranga Māori is a driving force.

“To hear kōrero from Future Search participants about the Mauri of Tangaroa and its decline over time shows that there is a lot of work to do and DOC is committed in supporting the work of our Treaty partners.

“The common ground we came to is that Tangaroa is struggling and needs our help. Collectively we can make a change and be advocates for Tangaroa to ensure future generations can experience a thriving marine environment.”

DOC partnerships manager Miranda O’Connell, who co-facilitated the hui with Herearoha Skipper of Ngāti Paoa, says the WMP shows the value of strategies and marine protection proposals being developed by communities themselves.

“The work being undertaken in the WMP is a testament to the changes that can happen when mana whenua and communities take the lead.”

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