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Project A. Whakapapakainga: Low carbon and high cultural connectedness futures for community cross-generational benefit: Funded by MBIE.   

Carbon, Marae Communities and Cultural Connectedness (Link to our Facebook site)


The problem and the opportunity


We (more about us below) have been working on a project that looks at how our marae communities and their descendants can better shape a future that builds community and environmental resilience in response to climate change.

Climate change is arguably one of ‘the’ most concerning kaupapa of modern times when it comes to consistent media attention and debate on national and international stages. Of course humanity is concerned with many other major concerns, not least poverty, pollution, energy, food, disease (the corona virus right now) and war. The sustainable development goals point to these challenges. What we want to do, however, is work with our communities on developing tikanga-based, economically affordable and community-relevant responses to climate change, which at the same time, may also help tackle other related ‘big’ issues like food sovereignty, like energy and like poverty. Ultimately, through research and development over 5 years, we hope to build a mix of innovations and responses that do one thing: restore oranga, or good health, to lands, water and our people. Climate change is the motivator now. But we have other reasons too, to restore oranga.

Our Broad Research Aims:

1. What customary values can shape a new leadership to oversee transformative change?


2. What are communities’ aspirations and challenges and what novel, cost-effective and culturally-sensitive innovations aid transformative pathways for marae communities?


3. What environmental and social variables shape a comprehensive kainga dashboard to better understand climate change effects and respond from informed and cultural values standpoints?

4. How can Smart Ag technology and tikanga work together for community use to monitor climatic, environmental and community patterns, aid smart responses and promote low carbon and high culturally-connected futures?

5. What findings can input into national and UN policy?

Project B. A question of identity: how connected are Maori youth to ancestral marae, and does it matter?

Funded by The Royal Society

Most Māori people live away from their ancestral home marae. Evidence suggests Māori seek, but struggle, to remain connected to their marae, language and culture. Home marae communities, generally depopulated and geographically isolated are also seeking to maintain contact with their dispersed descendants. But does belonging to marae actually matter amongst young Māori? We are investigating difficult issues about marae connection and identity. Through innovative methods we will survey/korero with young Māori and their source communities to find answers that broaden academic understandings of marae in relation to critical transformations of community/kainga occurring both at home and overseas.


Using kaupapa Māori and social network methods and theories, our research aims to advance theories of Māori cultural change concerning 'marae' as the pivotal indicator. Our research will also deepen Aotearoa/New Zealand's awareness of the diverse needs and aspirations of young Māori and their marae people today. It will provide vital knowledge, regarding how whānau, marae, hapū and others can navigate through complex circumstances of our time.


Our findings will offer leading insights and strategies from Aotearoa/New Zealand and contribute to discussions on similar issues facing Māori communities/kainga, and other indigenous peoples internationally regarding home connection and identity.

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