Tuna - NIWA tuna training workshops

NIWA's National Centre of Māori Environmental Research (also known as Te Kūwaha) has been developing tailor-made training workshops for Māori.

More information about Te Kūwaha

The aim of these workshops is to provide information, services and resources of relevance to Māori, and to support them in developing programmes (implemented by iwi/hapū) that collect the scientifically robust information required to sustainability manage their environmental assets.

In line with the core objectives of Te Kūwaha this initiative aims to:

  1. increase the capability and capacity of our Māori partners
  2. increase knowledge of the services, tools and products that NIWA can provide Māori involved in the management and restoration of taonga species and their associated environs
  3. assist Māori to undertake the fundamental research required to inform their unique responsibilities as kaitiaki and managers of freshwater resources.

These workshops aim to provide a mixture of practical hands-on training, basic biology and ecology, and an introduction to the design of sampling and monitoring programmes to increase the capacity required by Māori to implement and monitor the success of rehabilitation and restoration initiatives. These workshops are typically run by Drs Jacques Boubée and Erica Williams.

Please note that these are informal training courses, e.g., they do not result in a qualification recognised by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA). These workshops have been specifically designed by Te Kūwaha to "get science off the shelf" and assist tangata whenua to realise their restoration aspirations regarding tuna/customary freshwater fisheries. 

Workshop content 

The format and content of these workshops are designed based on the requirements of the iwi/hapū/marae/Māori organisations NIWA is working with on a case-by-case basis.

To date, NIWA has delivered 1–3 day freshwater fisheries and water quality training courses to various groups around the motu including:

  • Te Rūnanga A Iwi o Ngāpuhi
  • Lake Waikaremoana Hapū Restoration Trust
  • Hiruharama Marae, Waahi Marae
  • Te Māra a Hineāmaru (Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Hine)
  • Te Roopū  Taiao o Utakura
  • Te Rūnanga o Moeraki
  • Te Rūnanga o Arowhenua
  • Te Rūnanga o Waihao
  • Ngāti Hau
  • Ngāti Tahu-Ngāti Whaoa
  • Te Rūnanganui o Ngāti Hikiaro ki Tongariro. 

The numbers that have attended these workshops have ranged between about 10 and 50 people of all ages, including rangatahi.

While the focus of these workshops has typically been based around a biophysical science perspective of freshwater fish/tuna biology, scientific sampling methods and interpreting data, we have also included water quality components where our partners have required this.

In addition to the biophysical tuna science components, different groups have themselves incorporated topics for demonstration and discussion as they have seen fit. These have included mātauranga Māori and tuna, making hīnaki, preparing and cooking tuna. This can be especially valuable where there are limited opportunities for kaumātua to teach rangatahi some of the skills and experiences they have gained and used over their lifetimes. 

Resources for attendees

Workshop attendees are provided with a number of resources to take home with them, including a tuna training manual. The report/training manual is a "living" resource that we continue to adapt and improve with feedback from tangata whenua after each workshop. It is an information rich resource that attempts to summarise a lot of scientific and technical literature (that has been published in journals, reports, websites, and books) about New Zealand's freshwater fish, in particular tuna. Where possible we will try to focus the information presented in the manual on what we currently know about freshwater fisheries in the catchment where we are doing the workshop. 


We are grateful for the funding provided by Te Rūnanga Ā Iwi Ō Ngāpuhi, Te Wai Māori Trust, Genesis Energy Ltd and NIWA over the last five years to update and improve the tuna training manual/workshop programme as a "living" resource for tangata whenua. We also thank Te Roopū Taiao o Utakura, the Lake Waikaremoana Hapū Restoration Trust, Te Māra a Hineāmaru, Hiruharama Marae, Te Rūnanga o Moeraki, Ngāti Hau Resource Management Unit and Dave Allen for their constructive comments, which have led to the on-going improvement of these tuna training workshops for other interested parties. 

Further reading

Williams, E., Boubée, J., Dalton, W., Henwood, R., Morgan, I., Smith, J., Davison, B. (2009). Tuna population survey of Lake Omapere and the Utakura River. NIWA Client Report WLG2009-39. April 2009. 90 p. http://waimaori.maori.nz/publications/Ngapuhi Fisheries Limited - Final Report 09.pdf

Other links

Tamariki helping set Gee-minnow traps during a fisheries survey of the Punakitere River. Credit: NIWA
Erica Williams assisting tamariki measuring an eel from the Whanganui River during a tuna training workshop at Hiruharama. Credit: Cam Speedy.
Measuring a shortfin tuna from Lake Ōmāpere. Credit: Wakaiti Dalton.
Aslan Wright-Stow working with Te Roopū Taiao o Utakura to identify invertebrates from the Utakura River. Credit: Wakaiti Dalton.
Tamariki from Pipiwai School dissecting a tuna from the Kaikou River to see what it has been eating. Credit: Wakaiti Dalton.
Mike Zachan and Jacques Boubée removing the otoliths from an eel. Credit: Iri Morgan.
Research subject: Maori


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Archived on 9 April 2019