Skip to content

Giving whakamana back to Māori landowners through land science tools

A potential new kānuka industry is emerging thanks to Māori landowners partnering boldly with Manaaki Whenua to better understand their land through a te ao Māori-led approach to using land science tools.

Hikurangi Bioactives Limited Partnership (HBLP) is a majority community-owned entrepreneurial enterprise, set up to create economic opportunities for the communities of the Waiapū valley in the North Island. It is currently working with 14 Māori landowners to commercialise the bioactives in taonga species. 

Kānuka trees

Kānuka trees

Kānuka oil is the first product in the commercialisation pipeline, with a phase-two clinical trial of a kānuka oil cream recently showing excellent results in the treatment of eczema.

The Māori directors, staff and partners in HBLP and the Hikurangi Group predominantly identify as Ngāti Porou. Their activities are focused on the rōhe of Ngāti Porou. 

From macadamia, kānuka, sheep farming and even blueberries under cover – the enterprise is rich with thriving resources and the potential to work with the whenua in ways that deliver to landowner aspirations.

Manaaki Whenua kaihautū Dr Nikki Harcourt has worked closely with Māori in the region to understand their ambitions, then worked to uncover the characteristics of their land to help kaitiaki make decisions that will ensure good biodiversity on the land.

“There is a critical need for Māori communities in the Waiapū valley to feel connected to the science and innovation system. 

“In kaupapa Māori methods, knowledge sharing is most effective when skilled experts work alongside communities, and landowners/hapū can learn – and be motivated to use – scientific skills and processes.”

Nikki and her team have achieved this using Manaaki Whenua tools such as S-map and WhenuaViz.

S-map is designed to help landowners understand soil type – its depth, stoniness, texture, and its capacity to hold water, and WhenuaViz is a visualisation tool for Māori landowners to access biophysical information about their whenua.

“Our core kaupapa is giving whakamana (empowerment) back to Māori landowners. 

“We gather the data that they want, and for their purposes so they can achieve success for their land and for their people.”

Key contact