Our work

We aim to build positive connections between kaitiaki and scientists, for the benefit of both. To do so, we facilitate research on tool development and projects that support communities in their journeys towards resource management.

Our Three Pillars

1. Dialogue Facilitation:

We aim to open debates and dialogue about contested truths and histories, and possibilities for the present and future. We offer our research projects as educational tools, to answer questions about mahinga kai, local resource management, and customary fisheries practices.

Such work includes our Kai Korero magazine, distributed to communities and organizations across the country; regional and national huis, lectures, and seminars focused on important current topics; and other resources, free and open to the public.

2. Community Tools:

We aim to empower communities to better manage their own resources, in ways they choose and in ways that reflect their own cultural values. We work with communities to produce various tools and resources that will help the communities do just that.

Such work includes the Estuary Toolkit and the Marine Cultural Health Toolkit.

3. Research:

Our staff and students are always looking for new ways to support the future of mahinga kai. We provide a platform for a variety of research projects – based in both matauranga and science – that align with our project goals.

Through our research program, we provide an opportunity for postgraduate students and scientists to learn cross-cultural research skills, and for kaitiaki to learn about science.


We hope our work will provide the following outcomes:

  • More kai on the table
  • Increased capacity and well-being within local communities
  • More support for customary and recreational fisheries through improved planning and lobbying
  • More community autonomy in the management of resources
  • Better understanding of sustainable mahinga kai practices
  • Improved partnership between matauranga and science
Cockle study, Karitane estuary, Otago

Tangata Tiaki Wānanga, Waikouaiti Estuary, East Otago Taiāpure


Chris Hepburn, Marine Sciences Department, University of Otago
Office: 310 Castle Street, Room 144  |  Tel: 64 3 479 7462  |  Email: chris.hepburn@otago.ac.nz