Project Matauranga


NIWA scientists are featured in a new science television series on Maori Television.

The series - PROJECT MATAURANGA - looks at a wide range of subjects, including koura management in lakes, the risks associated with eating traditional kai, and sustainable wastewater management for marae. 

Presented by Victoria University lecturer Dr Ocean Mercier, the series premiered on Tuesday, 14 August at 8.00pm, and ran for 13 episodes. 

PROJECT MATAURANGA looks at the growth of Maori worldviews within the scientific community and celebrates the people and ideas that are giving our country an edge in the world of science.

Formatted around the structure of an experiment, each episode begins with a problem, followed by a method that has been developed to solve the problem.

Step-by-step, viewers will see the problems resolved, revealing in everyday language how Western science and Maori knowledge systems are combining to provide solutions.

Dr Mercier says Maori have always been scientists and continue to be scientists.

"Our brand of science maybe a little different from Western science but nonetheless it allowed us to work in the world, to be in the world, to live in the world, to survive in the world for generations and thousands of years," she says.

NIWA-related episodes:

Ep2 – Utakura 21st August

Managing, protecting and enhance the Utakura River, ma uta ki tai

Te Ropu Taiao o Utakura, utilise science and Māori knowledge to restore, protect and enhance the freshwater environment and fisheries of the Utakura river.

Te Ropu Taiao o Utakura - NIWA 


Ep3 – Tau Koura 28th August

Use of a traditional Maori harvesting method for fisheries monitoring and management

Freshwater scientists are utilising Māori knowledge to assess population abundance and structure of koura in lakes. Tau koura is a traditional Māori fishing method for harvesting lake koura used by Te Arawa.

Te Arawa Lakes Trust – NIWA 


Ep6 – Contaminants in kai 18th September

Traditional kai – what are the risks associated with eating it?

Gathering, eating and sharing wild kai has always been a very important part of Māori tikanga. This project looks to assess the potential health risks of contaminants and heavy metals in wild kai due to geothermal activity in the Te Arawa rohe.

Te Arawa Lakes Trust – NIWA 


Ep11- Waste water 23rd October

Sustainable waste water management for marae

In Raglan, waste water disposal at the Kokiri Centre is a small but vital issue for Tainui-a-whiro. Using western science and mātauranga they've developed an eco-friendly system that allows papatunuku to purify their waste-water which zero impact on their harbour.

NIWA – Tainui-a-whiro 

Other episodes

Ep1 – Ginseng 14th August

Minimizing the impact on papatuanuku from forestry activities

Science and Māori knowledge combine in Maraeroa C Incorporations 'Wild Simulated' Ginseng growing trial. Creating a substrata crop within a pine forest creates a new revenue stream and reinvigorates the earth.

Maraeroa C Incorporation - SCION

Ep4 – Kuia 4th September

Mauriora ki nga Kuia - Restoration and sustainability of petrel populations

For Ngati Awa of Moutohora, the kuia is an important customary food source, but harvesting of the bird on the island ceased in the 1960's due to the decline in numbers. By employing scientific methods Ngati Awa hope to re-establish the customary practice of harvesting the bird.

Landcare research – Ngati Awa – Department of Conservation

Ep5 – Whare uku 11th September

Sustainable housing solutions for Maori

The whareuku, or earth house, is a research project overseen by Dr Kepa Morgan. It looks to develop a low-cost rammed earth housing solution that is accessible and could change papakainga developments for hapu all over the country.

Te Runanga o Ngati Pikiao - University of Auckland

Ep7 – Bioremediation 25th September

Te Ohu Mo Papatuanuku – the remediation of the Kopeopeo Canal

Toxicity caused by the forestry in Whakatane has had an enormous impact on the environment. Matauranga Māori, Western Science and numerous agencies have joined forces to remediate the dioxin-contaminated Kopeopeo Canal in Whakatane.

SWAP – Ngati Awa – University of Waikato

Ep8 – Okahu Bay 2nd October

Okahu Bay Restoration Project

The Ōkahu Bay Restoration Project is being undertaken by Ngāti Whātua ki Ōrākei and is an all-encompassing restoration project. Conducting a mātauranga and scientific analysis of kaimoana, water quality and sediment in order to create a roadmap for restoring the bay.

Ngāti Whātua ki Ōrākei – University of Auckland

Ep9 - Tuawhenua Forest Restoration 9th October

Restoration of indigenous forest in Te Urewera

In the Urewera forest, Tuhoe are attempting to reinstate podocarps like Rimu, the giant trees of the forest, after their devastation through milling. Using their intimate knowledge of the forests and working with scientists from Manaaki Whenua to re-establish the population, it's a long term project for Tuhoe that may take generations to see through.

Landcare research – Tuhoe Tuawhenua Trust

Ep10- 3D Scanning 16th October

Contemporary technologies for 3D digitization of artefacts – Tangonge returns home.

Te Rarawa and Auckland Museum are discovering how cutting- edge 3D imaging technology can see taonga returned to the iwi for long periods of time while allowing the museum to exhibit a three dimensional replica. The scanning of Tangonge, shows how taonga and information can be shared between iwi and institution.

Auckland War Memorial Museum – University of Auckland – Te Runanga o Te Rarawa

Ep12- Animal navigation 30th October

Navigation through space and time

The use of the earth's magnetic field for navigation by birds and fish during migration has been the topic of intense scientific study for hundreds of years. Professor Michael Walker harnesses both western science and mātauranga Māori in his thinking and may just have made a breakthrough that provides answers to this migratory puzzle.

University of Auckland

Ep13- Fungi 6th November

Māori traditional knowledge surrounding fungi

Rebekah Fuller has spent years researching mātauranga around traditional uses of fungi, collating information that could have been lost forever. Today she's using this knowledge and Western science to develop new ways to protect kumara from fungal infections.

University of Auckland – Landcare research 



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Archived on 10 May 2019