Community-based monitoring and the expression of kaitiakitanga: similarities and differences

This report grew out of a 6-year creative activity [1] (FRST, 2008) named Manaaki Taha Moana aimed at understanding how hapū [2] and iwi involvement in the expression of kaitiakitanga can be enhanced with the design, adoption and use of information technology and systems. During this 6-year creative activity a diverse range of information technologies and systems were created and used in two case studies. One case study involved hapū and iwi of the Tauranga moana in a holistic assessment of the wellbeing of Te Awanui, Tauranga harbour ecosystems. Another case study was led by Te Iwi o Ngāti Tukorehe and aimed to extend past efforts to reinstate the mana of coastal ecosystems within their whenua-moana. From a Māori cultural perspective, creative activities of this kind involve whānau, hapū and iwi in the expression of kaitiakitanga. An interesting question that is explored in this Report (7c) concerns just how this Māori cultural approach to caring for the natural world (i.e. whānau) compares with the Western Scientific notion of community-based monitoring.

This report seeks to position the Māori cultural expression of kaitiakitanga in the context of emerging community-based monitoring, action research and adaptive management literatures. While literature in these various disciplinary areas collectively contribute to the state of current thinking on what English speaking peoples refer to as ‘socially’ or ‘community’ mediated monitoring activities, little attempt has been made to position and explore this thinking in differing cultural contexts. This Report (7b) explores the relevance of community-based monitoring theory in a Māori cultural context involving the hapū-led expression of kaitiakitanga. What we show is that Māori-led creative activities of this kind typically face limitations and barriers that are also described in the Western Academic literature. These limitations and barriers impact on the involvement of communities (cf. hapū, iwi and local kaitiaki) in (i) monitoring activities and (ii) the use of information technology and systems to monitor the wellbeing of ecosystems. This study seeks to better understand both of these effects and just what might be done to remedy their causes.



[1] In the remainder of this report we preference the use of the word ‘creative activity’ rather than research. This alternative name appears to have been first used in a government policy document on Māori involvement in research, science and technology (MORST 2005).

[2] For the convenience of the reader, a glossary of Māori terms (with relevant Māori to English translation) is provided in Appendix I.


Report reference and download link

Cole, A. O. me ōna tūpuna and McCallion, A. (2018) Special issue on information technology and systems: Community-based monitoring and the expression of kaitiakitanga: similarities and differences, Kōrero Māori report 13, (pp. 68). Tauranga, New Zealand: iPansophy Limited Digital Publishing. [Download]


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