Values & objectives

Who We Are

Te Tiaki Mahinga Kai means ‘guarding the customary food gathering areas.’ This phrase also signals a wider agenda of sustainable environmental management through the application of kaitiakitanga (Māori environmental stewardship).

We are a national coalition of kaitiaki (Māori environmental stewards), researchers, students, community members, fishers, mothers and grandmothers, NGO workers, policy-makers, and all others who care about our land, our place, and our future.

Our Vision

We envision sustained enhancement of the cultural, economic, social and environmental well-being of Māori, and New Zealand as a whole, through the application of mātauranga and science.

To achieve such a vision, we focus on mahinga kai and modern customary fisheries practices.

Our Work Philosophy

TMK is situated within the environment – whenua/moana – and is populated by the people of the land.

Mātauranga (Traditional Ecological Knowledge of Māori) and local knowledge (“learning by doing”) will take centre stage here. Mātauranga will guide our programs, while formal research approaches (“learning by reading”) will support our efforts. These disciplines will primarily be based in science, but may also include law, humanities, and business.

We hope to foster a mutual partnership between mātauranga and science, using both in collaboration and calibration, when each is the appropriate mode of knowledge. We strive to protect all knowledge and knowledge-holders, enhancing rather than undermining the mana of the kaitiaki.


Chris Hepburn, Marine Sciences Department, University of Otago
Office: 310 Castle Street, Room 144  |  Tel: 64 3 479 7462  |  Email: