Mātauranga Kura Taiao

Mātauranga – Matau = Fishhook. Ranga = Fishing ground.

To catch. To hold. To consume. To exercise. To practice.

“He Aha Te Kai A Te Rangatira? Ko Te Korero Te Kai O Te Rangatira”

Mātauranga Kura Taiao (MKT) is a project brought to you by Rongowhakaata Iwi Trust and Nga Whenua Rahui.

Through this project we look back, to our tipuna for guidance to bring mātauranga and taiao together from past to present to prepare for the future. Our focus is Wai (water), there is so much happening in our waterways, rivers and along our coastal area. We as iwi, hapu and whānau need to have a clear position and say on decisions that affect us especially major changes to the national water policies and management proposals that are happening now. This project consist​s of oral history, wānanga, surveys and video throwbacks so you can have your say.


In June we launched the Mātauranga Kura Taiao project and a Have Your Say survey.

The Purpose of the MKT survey was to engage whānau with the project and to get an  understanding of what our whānau know about this matter.

We had an awesome response to the survey with 30 whānau members participating by the 30th of June. On 10th of July the number increased to 32. The survey is still open to anyone wanting to have a say.

See a brief summary of the report below

Our MKT survey winner was drawn on the 13th of July by Liard at the RIT town oofice with 4 staff members present. Congratulations to our winner Tasmyn Ria!

Thank you to everyone who participated in the Survey.

#MKT #Wai #Taiao #Survey #Rongowhakaata #Mātauranga


Brief Summary of Survey Report

1.How much do you know about wai in the Rongowhakaata rohe? Nothing, a little, quite a bit, a lot. 

  • Most respondents said they know a little bit about the kaupapa (51.6%).  
  • (29%) say they know nothing. 
  • and the remaining 18% know quite a bit or a lot including history and traditions.  

Through this project we aim to help close the knowledge gap and use traditional knowledge to make us better kaitiaki today while acknowledging that current-day issues didn’t exist even 30 years ago, so we need new solutions. 

2. What do you want to learn about wai in the Rongowhakaata rohe? History and traditions, my connections to nga wai o Rongowhakaata, the waterways of Rongowhakaata, current issues? Other? 

There is a strong interest to know more about history and traditions as well as current issues impacting on wai (74%). This is good for the MKT to know so we can respond through wananga and education programmes planned for the next 12 months. Just as important, although with slightly less responses, are knowing connections to Rongowhakaata wai and the different waterways in our rohe. These will also be addressed by MKT through upcoming planned activities.  

Some useful comments provided are shown below (shown as written in the survey): 

Iwi’s stnce on water ownership  

How Rongowhakaata and this project will help Rongiwhakaata landowners  

And how to feed into the actions being undertaken across the three Taiao work streams. 

3. Please describe a tikanga about wai that you know or remember and/or continue to uphold. 

There are a number of responses given. Here is a sample.  The full list is available in the survey report on the MKT webpage: 

Tiakina Te wai  

Blessing physical objects  

Don’t mix human wastes with natural waters.  

Specific to a place one rule I remember is to never swim near or jump off the swing bridge. There were stories of a whirl pool appearing, or the water becoming turgid and brackish and it being a sign of the taniwha and the poor safety of the water for swimming. A more general tikanga was the separation of waters, to never mix dirty water with clean, and to dispose of dirty water on land or specific places not back into sources of clean water. Even when camping, or travelling, this is a basic.  

Wai is a cleanser and I always remember my mum & my nan telling me to wash in the sea, either myself or any taonga, to remove any tape or raru 

4. What are your thoughts on the current state of wai? 

A sample of the responses below. Not a positive outlook but still hopeful for change. 

Saddened by the fact that it is polluted and that our taonga that live in it are endangered by this. To much of the water is used to meet the demands of the agriculture industry in our rohe..  

Our water ways just needs to be looked after and protected for our people and Kai that’s living in our water  

In certain areas there are fresh clean water and other areas that need more attention 

It’s dirty  

too paru and depleted – water systems in Turanganuiakiwa need to be healed and strengthened We could be doing lots better although I’m not that well informed on it’s current state. 

5. Please describe your aspirations for wai. 

The sample of responses show a strong desire to clean and improve Rongowhakaata waterways. 

I would like to see it planted with a river walk and a place to sit where wake was launched  

kia ora ai te iwi i ona ahutanga katoa, pera hoki te whenua te moana  

That it is free flowing and available for future generations.  

That it is returned to a stste where the community can enjoy it  

That it is pure, clean, living with our native ika. It should be loved and not spoiled.  

Clean it up….stop pollution coming from nearby farms, even private homes eg dumping of rubbish….. 

6. What year were you born? 

Most respondents were born in the 1980s so aged between 32 and 41 years old. We had a small number of 20 somethings born in the 90s and a spread of 50-70+ year olds sharing their whakaaro.  

7. What is your gender? Female, male or non-binary? 

77.4% female. 22.6% male respondents. 

8. Do you live most of the time?  

Most respondents (67.8%) live within the Rongowhakaata area with 29% living in other parts of Aotearoa. One respondent resides overseas.  

9. Do you want to be in to win a paknsave voucher? Over 40% of respondents opted not to go into the draw. 


  1. There are national water reforms occurring within Aotearoa now concerning 3 types of water, fresh water, storm water, and wastewater.
  2. The National Policy Statement for Freshwater 2020 (NPSF) provides for Tangata Whenua rights, roles and responsibilities including Mahinga Kai.
  3. As Tangata Whenua, Rongowhakaata needs to have a say about these water reforms.
  4. The Makauri Aquifer is the largest source of underground water in Tūranga. Due to excessive water takes the aquifer has been in continual decline since the early 1980’s.
  5. Most of Gisborne city’s water comes from the Mangapoike dams and flows from the headwaters of Te Arai River. At times this is supplemented from water from the Waipaoa River.
  6. Some of Gisborne city’s urban streams (especially the Kopuawhakapata and Waikanae streams) are among the most polluted in the country, including large cities like Auckland and Wellington.
  7. The Waipaoa River is one of the two most sedimented/mud carrying rivers in the world alongside China’s Yellow River.

To learn more about the NPSF click on this link http://Three Waters Reform Programme – dia.govt.nz

This information has been provided by our MKT Team leaders.


If you’re Rongowhakaata uri, we want to hear from you. Tell us your thoughts on this kaupapa.