He Wai Māpuna

He Wai Māpuna is our first Māori-led research programme. It incorporates mātauranga Māori and modern science to support Māori to achieve their aspirations for wai by changing the way we work across ESR to deliver greater impact for Māori.

He Wai Māpuna was launched in October 2020 and represents a new and dynamic way of working for ESR that enables our iwi partners to define and lead programmes of work that will benefit their whānau, hapū and communities.

The focus of the programme is water but the benefits incorporate social, economic outcomes alongside broader environmental benefits. Harnessing both mātauranga Māori and Western science, He Wai Māpuna is demonstrating how dual knowledges can positively impact Aotearoa New Zealand communities.

Central to the programme is strong, long-term relationships with Māori. This supports all parties to develop their capability and means there's the flexibility to adapt as new aspirations emerge, capability grows, regulations change, and any external environmental crises arise.

Each of our partners has a different focus based on their unique environment and whānau aspirations. Taking the time to develop a mutual understanding of what is important and what ESR researchers and scientists are able to offer, helps us undertake co-designed research and services that will make a difference. Impact for the community is the focus, and living the principles of manaakitanga (hospitality) and kotahitanga (collaboration) guides the relationships.

One project in Tauranga Moana is developing visualisations of the local groundwater features, while another project in Wairarapa Moana is focused on the value of wai and restoration is beginning. All iwi have expressed an interest in visualisation tools to ‘see’ the current state of their wai and help generate insights and requirements across their rohe.

ESR's He Wai Māpuna team also hosted environmental monitoring education sessions within the Ngāti Toa Rangatira rohe. Learning the importance of environmental monitoring with a hands-on approach is vital for renewing kaitiakitanga in whānau.

He Wai Māpuna is a transformational change in science delivery. It is a change that we expect to result in better outcomes for Māori and for New Zealand communities. By living our He Pūtaiao, He Tāngata strategy, we are embedding a new way of working across ESR.