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Helping Māori Landowners Embrace a Low Carbon Future

Helping Māori Landowners Embrace a Low Carbon Future

Over 35% of land in the Bay of Plenty is under Māori ownership and regional Māori economic development agency, Toi Kai Rawa, is taking bold but considered steps to help unlock its potential.


Recognising the complexity of land development (especially when hundreds or even thousands of individuals share joint ownership), Toi Kai Rawa is collaborating with Māori collectives to showcase innovative land use opportunities aligned with a low carbon future.


“As an organisation, we’d like to see Bay of Plenty leading in the low carbon future space from a whenua Māori perspective,” explains Awhina Ngātuere, Chief Executive of Toi Kai Rawa.


“There’s a lot of underutilised land, and Māori are heavily invested in the primary sector. However, government policy and environmental calls necessitate a transition to low carbon futures, and that’s where our focus lies.”


Navigating Complexity

Land development involves multiple components – land, water, mandate, capability and capital. Awhina highlights the complexity involved, emphasising the need to understand owners’ aspirations and what success looks like for them.

“Māori land exists within the realm of mātauranga Māori, government laws, regulatory measures, and policies, and the ever-changing world, making it a diverse and evolving challenge with inherent opportunities.”


Showcasing Possibility

Toi Kai Rawa, with the support of a $40,000 grant from BayTrust, intends to raise awareness of what’s working well by showcasing exemplars, beginning with the organisation of ‘discovery tours’ tailored for Māori collectives.

These tours aim to showcase low carbon land use options and innovative possibilities for co-owners, helping to facilitate a transition from low productivity to higher value land use.

“Our approach is around our kaupapa Māori way of doing things – we don’t come in and force things onto people; it really depends on what’s important to them,” Awhina says.

The tours will focus on horticulture, agriculture, forestry, aquaculture and papakāinga housing, tailoring possibilities to each collective’s ambitions and current situation.

Toi Kai Rawa acts as an intermediary, connecting people and raising awareness to add value without duplicating existing support.

“How we work across teams and sectors is how we do our best mahi, connecting people to what’s already working and designing solutions to fill the gaps,” Awhina emphasises.


Significant Reach and Impact

With over 240,000 hectares owned by Māori in the Bay of Plenty, governed by up to 5000 entities, Toi Kai Rawa’s work holds significant potential.

“The opportunities can be small or large depending on where each Māori collective is at.”

Awhina says BayTrust’s funding is pivotal, as the two organisations share similar values and have the same geographical reach. The grant will support Toi Kai Rawa’s action plan to showcase opportunities in the whenua Māori space, aligning with their core kaupapa to ignite Māori economies across the region.


Image provided by: Ongare Trust