Valuable Seas

We developed ways to measure the values New Zealanders have for the marine environment.

Aotearoa New Zealand’s marine environment has abundant natural resources that could benefit the country’s economy. It also has significant social, cultural and spiritual value for generations of New Zealanders.

The way we govern and manage our marine environment needs to acknowledge and accommodate Māori and community concerns, views and values, as well as resource use. To do this, we must stocktake our natural capital, define values – social, environmental, cultural, spiritual and economic – and indicators of the marine economy.

We developed processes to measure the values New Zealanders have for the marine environment. Our research sought to nurture connections between multiple non-monetary values, investment and the marine environment.

We wanted to understand the economic measures that encourage innovation and add value to the marine economy, whilst also maintaining or improving other values. We aimed to provide ways to balance kaitiakitanga/guardianship with economic benefit.

We believe that identifying these values, and the marine habitats and ecosystem processes that underpin them, will improve New Zealand’s ability to prioritise management actions, make informed decisions, and define trade-offs.

Led by Judi Hewitt (NIWA), this programme:
  • Developed a framework to incorporate monetary and non-monetary values in decision making
  • Identified the values New Zealanders hold for the marine environment
  • Determined whether ecosystem services can be used to predict how impacts on ecosystem health and function affect human values
  • Developed ways in which blue marine economies can be measured and enhanced.