Innovation Fund
  • Active project

Pātangaroa hua rau: the bioactive potential of sea stars

Investigating the economic potential of collagen and bioactives from 11-armed sea-stars to manage overpopulations

Project Leader Duration Budget
Matt Miller (Cawthron), Kura Paul-Burke (University of Waikato) & Mathew Cumming (Plant and Food Research) December 2020 – December 2022 $250,000


An over-abundance of pātangaroa (11-armed sea-stars) is causing dramatic decline in populations of mussels, pipi and cockles. This is causing management issues in coastal areas of Aotearoa New Zealand, in particular the Ōhiwa harbour.

Local iwi, with the support of the Bay of Plenty Regional Council and Ōhiwa Harbour Implementation Forum (OHIF), are seeking innovative ways to manage pātangaroa.

Because they have the ability to regrow lost limbs, pātangaroa may have bioactive properties that could aid human wound healing and skin health. They could also be a source of marine collagen which is in high demand for cosmetics and supplements.

We are addressing how to create an economic opportunity from these properties to cover the costs for the management of pātangaroa in Ōhiwa Harbour which are causing significant environmental and biodiversity problems.

The aim of this project is to identify the bioactive potential of pātangaroa, including unique collagens and marine bioactives, and estimate their economic potential.

To achieve this, we are working with local iwi to:

  • Determine the bioactives found in pātangaroa
  • Undertake the essential proof-of-concept steps for producing marine collagen and/or novel bioactives from pātangaroa
  • Create a new blue economy model

The ultimate goal is to co-create a sustainable economic opportunity that could fund the management of the pātangaroa, and aid an ecosystem-based management model for the harbour and surrounding coastline that aligns with local Māori values.

Research Team

Matt Miller (Cawthron)
Kura Paul-Burke (University of Waikato)
Mathew Cumming (Plant and Food Research)
Shaun Ogilvie (Cawthron)


This is an Innovation Fund project, which is co-funded or funded in kind by the following partner(s):

Charlie Bluett (Te Rūnanga ō Ngāti Awa, Manager Customary Fisheries)
Tuwhakairiora O’Brien (Te Rūnanga ō Ngāti Awa, Deputy Chair)
Trevor Ransfield (Te Upokorehe Resource Management Team)
Wallace Aramoana (Te Upokorehe, Kaumātua)

Related News



  • June 2021
    Short report & presentation to Council, iwi partners and stakeholders
  • September 2021
    Analytical tools developed to measure bioactive composition in pātangaroa
  • December 2021
    Information & environmental management plan developed with iwi partners and stakeholders
  • March 2022
    Collection of pātangaroa for sampling completed
  • June 2022
    Factsheets on composition & bioactives of 2 pātangaroa species
  • September 2022
    An exemplar sample & process methodology of a possible collagen cosmetic product produced to be shared with iwi partners and stakeholders
  • December 2022
    Report & presentation to share results