Landcare Research - Manaaki Whenua

Landcare-Research -Manaaki Whenua


Sharing a hangi at the end of a meeting. Image - Tom Fraser

Sharing a hangi at the end of a meeting. Image - Tom Fraser

Collaborative research needs to be founded and established on a solid relationship. It is important the relationship with iwi and hapu is not taken for granted and is maintained by ongoing dialogue, communication, reciprocal visits and networking. It must be remembered that a good collaborative research proposal, or the thinking that goes into it, often takes years, rather than months, to write.

For a collaborative research model to work it must be participatory. Research organisations entering into partnerships or other arrangements with iwi or hapu should not merely consult iwi, but should develop a true partnership in the actual research. Three main types of collaborative model, which could co-exist, are described in the preceding section. There are many examples of Government research organisations that consult and hold workshops with iwi and hapu, to improve the relevance of, and an extended market for, their own research. This does not address many of the problems iwi and hapu have in building personal capacity and a stable base to participate effectively in research. To build human capacity, iwi and hapu need adequate resourcing and concentrated efforts that will allow them to participate more effectively. A number of models can be used to develop future collaborative research, and all involve relationship building, participatory research and collaborative learning.

Increasing resources to iwi and hapu

There are numerous ways research partners can improve resourcing to iwi and hapu, and thereby increase iwi and hapu participation in collaborative research. These include:

  • sub-contracting iwi and hapu personnel for existing or new research;
  • helping iwi and hapu write project proposals;
  • developing new iwi-led research projects;
  • developing participatory research projects;
  • building relationships between Government science organisations and iwi/hapu;
  • donating equipment and resources;
  • improving access (including more 'equitable access') to Government funding.

However, achievement requires funding agencies to recognise the substantial time involved, and the processes necessary, to establish successful collaborative research relationships with iwi and hapu, and to make provision for these in funds provided to either iwi/hapu or to their collaborators.

Increasing human capacity

Ways to improve the human capacity in iwi and hapu, include:

  • improving the interest in science and research amongst iwi and hapu;
  • providing educational scholarships and bursaries;
  • providing more training in research for Mäori, either in projects or training institutions;
  • arranging secondments between CRIs, Universities, other organisations, and iwi;
  • providing stable organisational and supportive environments in which iwi and hapu researchers can work;
  • recruiting and retaining Mäori staff in Government research and policy organisations and in local government;
  • providing financially secure environments for iwi and hapu researchers to work;
  • improving dialogue, communication between Government funders of science, science providers, and iwi;
  • improving dissemination of scientific information to iwi and hapu;
  • increasing relevance of science and research to address iwi and hapu issues;
  • improving cultural perspectives in science and research;
  • improving access by iwi and hapu to research and science information;
  • putting in place more effective networks.
  • All these contribute to making a collaborative research model work, and are seen as essential building blocks for increasing collaborative research. It should therefore be the responsibility of Funding agencies, CRIs and Universities to help build the capacity and capabilities of iwi and hapu to undertake research.

Key people

To date, most collaborative research with iwi has been initiated by Mäori staff working in Universities and Crown Research Institutes. It is likely that these people will be key drivers in any future collaborative research. Some environmental projects have been initiated by iwi, either alone or jointly with local government departments. However, rather than being true collaborative relationships, these have generally been iwi carrying out research alone, paid for by the other party, such as local government, or a funding agency such as MfE. To date, most collaborative research has used resources from existing research programmes, or has drawn on the limited resources already 'in house' within Universities, CRIs and iwi. Adequate resources must be invested into this area in future to make collaborative research happen.


A summary of the more general findings of this paper are:

  • research proposals and collaborative research can only happen once a meaningful relationship is established;
  • credible relationships take a long time to build, but are critical to successful collaborative research;
  • a very clear understanding of future relationships needs to be articulated at an early planning stage, and may follow certain protocols;
  • research and project management capability, and human capacity, are pre-requisites for starting collaborative research projects;
  • building human capacity and developing collaborative research go hand in hand;
  • developing collaborative research with iwi and hapu requires adequate resources;
  • characterising important Mäori issues at a national level will help identify collaborative research opportunities;
  • collaborative projects with iwi need to be evaluated using a wider set of criteria than just research or science outcomes.


Kirikiri, R.; Harmsworth, G.R.; Pene, H. 2001: Mäori research strategy for Manaaki Whenua. Unpublished report and paper.

Kirikiri, R.; Penman, D. 2001: Mäori research strategy 2001/2002 for Manaaki Whenua. Paper for Manaaki Whenua Board of Directors.