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Deane Gage’s kaimoana gathering workshop, funded by a Tonganui Scholarship (Image: Supplied)
Deane Gage’s kaimoana gathering workshop, funded by a Tonganui Scholarship (Image: Supplied)

ĀteaOctober 5, 2022

Discovering and harnessing the diverse potential of Māori innovation

Deane Gage’s kaimoana gathering workshop, funded by a Tonganui Scholarship (Image: Supplied)
Deane Gage’s kaimoana gathering workshop, funded by a Tonganui Scholarship (Image: Supplied)

From reindigenising maps of Aotearoa to showcasing and teaching traditional kaimoana gathering practices, Māori with big ideas are turning them into reality with help from Te Pūtea Whakatupu Trust.

In 2004, Te Pūtea Whakatupu Trust was established through the Māori Fisheries Act to promote Māori education, training, and research through a managed fund of $20 million. Each year, the trust provides an annual philanthropic funding round for initiatives that support Māori to pursue excellence within the fields of education, science, leadership and innovation.

Two grants make up the annual funding. The first is the Tonganui Scholarship, which offers three $10,000 scholarships to Māori advancing tikanga Māori, mātauranga Māori and Te Ao Māori within the oceans sector. The second is the Pou Herenga Tangata Award, consisting of five $5,000 awards that either support rangatahi Māori who aspire to community leadership, or organisations supporting rangatahi to become leaders in their community. 

Recipients of Te Pūtea Whakatupu’s funds are officially recognised as members of Ngā Auahitūroa, the trust’s vibrant and ever-growing network of more than 300 previous scholarship alumni. Last year, a total of 37 applications were received with nine projects funded ranging from Te Tai Tokerau to Moeraki. 

One of last year’s Pou Herenga Tangata recipients was 20-year-old Kaea Tibble (Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Raukawa ki te Tonga, Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Ngāti Pikiahau-Waewae) who utilised his grant funding to launch a project to decolonise and reindigenise the map of his whānau’s whenua using GIS (Geographic Information System Mapping Technology).

“Maps have traditionally been tools of colonisation,” says Tibble. “So we’re indigenising colonial tools”. 

Kaea Tibble, recipient of a 2021 Pou Herenga Tangata award (Photo: Supplied)

The project aims to reclaim the ingoa and pūrākau of Tibble’s tūpuna that are embedded throughout the Tokorangi valley; an idea sparked by Tibble’s father and inspired by the work of indigenous groups in Minnesota.

Unlike the globes that sit on desks, or maps that we stick on the wall, GIS maps “are really detailed and have different layers,” says Tibble, who likens the technology to the layered nature of mātauranga surrounding place names given by tūpuna. “Those maps are really about layers, and whakapapa is about layers as well,” he says. “So I think there’s pretty strong parallels between the two.”

Tibble organised multiple hui and wānanga bringing together GIS experts and kaumātua, and as a result, has started to fill in those layers. “Typically, the lens hasn’t focused on the importance, the beauty, and the connection that comes from place names,” he says. “We’ve been lucky enough to kōrero with people that have given up their time to contribute to this kaupapa, and speak on how important names are, how important spaces are, and how important places are.”

The project is ongoing, as more people become involved, the more stories and layers are added to the map. Tibble hopes the mapping creates a space where those who don’t have easy access to the marae can still access those stories and place names from wherever they are, and that as more people become involved with the project, they’ll be able apply skills learnt to maps in their own rohe

Another project to receive one of the Pou Herenga Tangata awards is Gisborne-based rangatahi entrepreneurship club, Tāiki e! Next Gen.

Led by Cain Kerehoma, the rangatahi club grew as an offshoot of a community-based entrepreneurial space he started in 2019 called Taiki e!. For Kerehoma, entrepreneurship and innovation provide pathways to resilience for Māori. “Being an isolated region in an isolated country, this gives us an opportunity to keep our people working here,” he says. And for those who have left to find work outside the region, it’s an opportunity to “bring them home,” he says.

The rangatahi-based club started last year as a natural evolution from the original club. Doors to the space are open to any and all, with hundreds of rangatahi participating in markets and events since they began. Each Monday, a group of 30 rangatahi show up for their weekly after-school meet ups which provide mentorship and a range of entrepreneurial development activities. At the front of the space, they’ve created a pop-up shop where rangatahi aged 14-24 are given the shop rent-free for a few weeks to sell products like vintage clothing, dried floral arrangements, candles and photography.

Cain Kerehoma, recipient of a Pou Herenga Tangata award (Photo: Supplied)

The $5,000 pūtea they received as part of the award was principally utilised to develop an rangatahi led escape room, which they launched in May, the first of its kind in Te Tai Rāwhiti. Groups pay $120 to play the game which involves solving a series of puzzles as the clock on the wall counts down for 60-minutes. So far, Kerehoma says they’ve had around 100 groups visit.

The concept developed out of feedback from rangatahi as a way to generate revenue to ensure the club remains self-sufficient, but also to provide a real business model to learn from. Rangatahi are employed within the venture, but also have a hand in managing the business finances, marketing, health and safety and general operations. It’s “hands-on entrepreneurial learning, as opposed to just preaching about it,” says Kerehoma. 

“Given the right tools, our rangatahi show me time and time again, that when they practice good tikanga and are surrounded by people who help them, they’re able to create really beautiful things,” he says.

Successful funding recipient, Deane Gage (Te Whānau ā Apanui, Ngati Maniapoto, Tainui), utilised his Tonganui Scholarship funding to also deliver a community based venture in the shape of three-day kaimoana gathering wānanga held earlier this year.

Gage grew up diving and fishing in the Te Whānau a Apanui and Whānau a Pararaki hapū, learning those practices and customs by his parents, grandparents and extended whānau.

“Growing up, I thought everyone knew how to gather kai, how to fillet a fish, how to open a kina,” he says. “As a kid, you learn all these things that you take for granted.”

He applied this knowledge to his master’s thesis at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, researching mātauranga behind gathering kai from the ocean, and developed the wānanga programme to help connect people to the ocean and land, with an emphasis on practising tikanga.

In January, the free wānanga held in Te Tai Rāwhiti saw around thirty people, aged from two years to 55 years plus, learning the customs and protocols of fishing, diving, and hunting., customs, and protocols. Through both practical and theory modules, the programme was aimed at ensuring food security and sovereignty for Gage’s community as well as and improving the mana of local rangatahi through being of value to their iwi, hapū, whānau and kaumātua

Deane Gage’s kaimoana gathering workshop, funded by a Tonganui Scholarship (Photo: Supplied)

Deane considers the wānanga as a pilot, to what he hopes becomes a more regular occurrence. “People have lost this connection,” he says. “So there’s a real need.”

For another Tonganui Scholarship recipient, Te Aomihia Walker, the funding contributed to a six-month residency in Iceland as part of the UNESCO’s GRÓ Fisheries Training programme between 2021-22. Walker completed a research project abroad that focused on a policy in fisheries called “landing and discards” – what fishers can return to the port and land, and what they must return to the ocean. Walker examined the activity through an indigenous lens known as ‘etuaptmumk’ or ‘two-eyed seeing’ and developed key principles for developing landings and discard policies utilising both western knowledge of conventional fisheries management and mātauranga Māori equally.

In the last funding round, Te Pūtea Whakatupu also offered a one-off STEMM focused fund, Māhe Mātauranga, where 20-year old Te Whetu Kerekere (Te Aitanga a Mahaki, Te Aitanga a Hauiti) and 21-year old Gemella Ana Hera Reynolds-Hatem (Ngāi Tahu, Ngāi Tahu Poutini, Ngāti Mamoe, Waitaha) were successful recipients. The funding went toward a project that translated and reconceptualised a University of Otago genetics resource for schools called ‘Who killed the Kiwi?’.

Te Whetu Kerekere, recipient of STEMM focused fund, Māhe Mātauranga (Image: Supplied)

While studying forensics and genetics at the University of Otago, Kerekere came across the English-language resource pack which uses hands-on, science lab techniques and was instantly taken by it. And she saw the potential in translating the resource for kura around the country, by “breaking apart its core components and rebuilding it in a more te ao Māori way,” she says.

The pair worked to redesign the resource in a way that ensures students and teachers can engage with the science, without having to leave their Māoritanga at the door. Named, ‘Mā Wai te Kiwi i Matenga?’ The resource pack is a hands-on, fun, educational tool that uses real-world science lab techniques. Kerekere and Reynolds-Hatem hope to distribute the resource to kura kaupapa and wharekura around the country to help increase the capacity of students, teachers, and scientists in a way that upholds the integrity of dual knowledge systems. “I remember thinking about when I was at kura kaupapa and we had hardly any science,” Kerekere says. “Imagine a little pēpi somewhere in kura doing this task and it sparks their passion for science.”

After being discouraged by funding roadblocks along the way, Kerekere sees the funding as being more than just the sum of money, it’s also provided an invaluable cloak of support to the project. “It felt nice too just to know that there were people there to support us,” she says. “That there are other Māori people, tuakana, kuia, and koroua who are keen to help us, that want to see this as much as we do, it helped along the way when it was hard.” Mā te huruhuru te manu ka rere ai, adorned with feathers, the bird is able to fly.

Applications for the Tonganui Scholarship and Pou Herenga Tangata Award are open now and close on 15 September. 

To read more about the successful grant applicants of the Pou Herenga Tangata Award and the Tonganui Scholarship, or to apply for this year’s funding round, visit:

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