June 29, 2016


Indigenous panellists from Australia and New Zealand will meet in Wellington, New Zealand, on Monday 4 July to consider ways for the marine science and Indigenous communities to engage more effectively in research partnerships.

The panel discussion will take place during the 2016 conference of the New Zealand Marine Sciences Society (NZMSS) and the Australian Marine Sciences Association (AMSA), to be held from 4─7 July at Victoria University, Wellington.

It will focus on the benefits that arise from genuine and lasting collaborations, mutual respect of knowledge, and a common purpose, an approach embodied in the Maori proverb ‘He moana pukepuke, e ekengia e te waka’ (Mountainous seas can be navigated in a canoe when we all work together).

Indigenous communities have strong connections to coasts and seas, and researchers and managers increasingly seek to learn from Indigenous knowledge, skills and values.

Strengthened partnerships benefit the marine community as a whole through increased diversity of participation, scientific and cultural perspectives, inclusive and innovative methods and communication, and enhanced environmental knowledge.

‘Meaningful partnerships provide opportunities to resolve complex issues, but must be founded on a genuine desire to work together,’ conference presenter Kelly Ratana of New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) says.

‘As researchers, we should be asking Indigenous communities how such partnerships work for them: considering successes, past issues and how the process could be improved.

‘We want to open up this discussion between Indigenous peoples (practitioners, researchers and leaders) and the marine science community, as well as strengthen learnings and relationships across the Tasman.’

The panel discussion will follow an Indigenous science presentation session co-chaired by Kelly Ratana and Dr Cass Hunter of Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).

‘The responsibility for effective engagement between Indigenous peoples and science falls on the shoulders of many,’ Dr Hunter says.

‘One framework for engagement does not necessarily fit all, so it is often through shared learning, experiences and open communication that research succeeds.’

Follow-on discussions about Indigenous participation in marine science will take place during the AMSA conference in Darwin, Australia, during July 2017.

The NZMSS-AMSA 2016 conference theme is ‘Sharing ocean resources – Now and in the future’ and features more than 270 posters and presentations. The previous joint conference was held in Hobart in 2012.

The panel discussion ‘Exploring indigenous engagement throughout New Zealand and Australian coasts and seas’ is sponsored by Australia’s National Environmental Science Programme (NESP) Marine Biodiversity Hub. The Hub provides information and understanding to support biodiversity management and conservation in the marine environment.

Contact: Bryony Bennett

Australian panellists

Melissa George: Chief Executive Officer, North Australian Indigenous Land and Sea Management Alliance (NAILSMA)

Duane Fraser: Community Engagement and Indigenous Project Specialist

Aotearoa panellists

Sarah-Jane Tiakiwai: Waikato, Te Rarawa, Academic Director at Waikato-Tainui College for Research and Development

Caine Taiapa: Ngāti Ranginui, Ngai Te Rangi, Te Rarawa, Ngāti Pikiao, General Manager, Manaaki Te Awanui Charitable Trust, c.taiapa@manaakiteawanui.co.nz

Anaru Luke: Ngāti Rārua, Deputy Chair of Te Rūnanga O Ngāti Rārua, Kaihautu - Te Tohu Huarahi (Manager - Strategic Positioning/Planning),  Department of Conservation, New Zealand, anaru.luke@gmail.com

Conference presenters, Indigenous science session

Erica McCreedy, NAILSMA: Innovative collaborations and knowledge transfers

Christy-Louise Davies, NAILSMA: Indigenous communities driving research and on-ground conservation efforts of endangered euryhaline Elasmobranchs in Northern Australia

Lynnath Beckley, Murdoch University: Mapping human use of the remote Dampier Peninsula (Kimberley, Australia) prior to coastal development

John Booth, Emeritus, Rawhiti, NZ: Seven centuries of human-induced change in marine life of the Bay of Islands, New Zealand

Chris Gillies, The Nature Conservancy: Loss and future recovery of Australia’s shellfish reefs

Phil Ross, University of Waikato: Can knowledge of early Māori fisheries practices help restore the Toheroa?

Gemma McGrath, University Of Otago: Bridging Science with traditional ecological Knowledge to protect Māui and Hector’s Dolphins: Messaging that moves society

Kelly Ratana, NIWA and Cass Hunter, CSIRO: The journey of indigenous researchers: insights on navigating science with the needs of communities


Project A1 - Northern Australian hotspots for the recovery of threatened euryhaline species


Malak Malak rangers survey threatened river sharks in northern Australia as part of Marine Biodiversity Hub research. Image: Malak Malak Ranger Group.

Malak Malak ranger Amos Shields on fisheries patrol with Northern Territory Police. Image: Malak Malak Ranger Group.