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Iwi dedication to local taonga recognised with biosecurity award


13 November 2018

The dedication of Tauranga Moana iwi to protecting Mauao from myrtle rust and building biosecurity excellence in Tauranga has been acknowledged with a biosecurity award.

The New Zealand Biosecurity Te Puni Kōkiri Māori Award highlights the significance of Te Ao Māori and Mātaraunga Māori to biosecurity and the cultural significance to biosecurity challenges Aotearoa faces.

Kia Maia Ellis of Manaaki Te Awanui is ecstatic with the win. She sees it as a huge privilege with the hope that it will inspire further contribution within the Bay of Plenty to protect the region’s precious taonga. “I’m overwhelmed. This recognition of our people’s knowledge and voluntary efforts will help to enable further biosecurity initiatives for our kaitiaki, and inspire others to contribute too,” Kia Maia said. As local kaitiaki, Tauranga Moana iwi actively considered how Mauao and other places of high environmental and cultural value were being protected.

The arrival of myrtle rust to Aotearoa helped drive direct biosecurity efforts. The iwi knew that this serious fungal disease could pose a significant threat to their taonga, their maunga - Mauao (Mt Maunganui). “Mauao is extremely significant to tāngata whenua, part of our pepeha - our identity. If myrtle rust does reach Mauao, it will be heartbreaking for all of us,” Kia Maia said.

Even before their surveillance of myrtle rust on Mauao, Tauranga Moana iwi were leading projects that they hadn’t yet connected to biosecurity.

“We have been running rangatahi - youth programmes that promoted kaitiakitanga - looking after our environment for a few years now. We recognised the significance of incoming biosecurity threats and therefore included biosecurity awareness in the programme” Kia Maia said.

Tauranga Moana iwi have also been fundamental in driving the launch of Tauranga Moana Biosecurity Capital (TMBC) - an initiative launched this year as a coalition of Tauranga Moana iwi, community groups, industry, and business, councils, central government, science and education representatives, all intent on delivering biosecurity excellence.

“Our partnerships have demonstrated that when everyone's knowledge is offered into the one basket, a powerful way forward can be forged. Nāu te rourou, nāku te rourou, ka ora ai te iwi. With your basket of knowledge and my basket of knowledge, the people are well," Kia Maia said. When asked about their inspiration for the project, Kia Maia cites our next generation. “They are our future and I believe they will do a better job than our generation if they are equipped with the right knowledge and tools,” Kia Maia said.

Find out more about the awards.