Vision Mātauranga

Unlocking the innovation potential of Māori knowledge, resources and people to create a better future for our marine ecosystems.

Vision Mātauranga (VM) means to envision knowledge, to think about new ways of doing things, to find answers, to solve problems.


The Government’s Vision Mātauranga policy recognises that Māori success is Aotearoa New Zealand’s success and that unlocking the science and innovation potential of Māori knowledge, people and resources will benefit Aotearoa New Zealand.

To bring VM to life throughout the Challenge, we support our researchers in their work with iwi, hapū and Māori organisation partners to ensure our work aligns with their needs and aspirations for marine management. We want our research, tools and resources to empower both traditional and contemporary mātauranga Māori in any EBM-approach in Aotearoa New Zealand’s marine environment.

At a national-level, we have worked with the other National Science Challenges and Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga to produce A Guide to Vision Mātauranga. The Guide was developed from a hui led by the Rauika Māngai, an assembly of senior Māori representatives at the forefront of VM implementation. It describes principles of good practice for VM in the National Science Challenges and across the science sector in Aotearoa New Zealand.

VM across our research

For the second phase of the Challenge, we are taking a more focused, integrated and transdisciplinary approach to our research. To achieve this, we will need high levels of partnership, collaboration and participation with Māori. 

The focus of VM in Phase II is to ensure that projects across the Challenge are supported so that the ability of our research to unlock Māori innovation potential is maximised.

Degradation and recovery 

We aim to address Māori aspirations to halt ecosystem degradation and to achieve improved recovery through supporting tangata whenua and rohe specific approaches and outcomes.

Credit: Crispin Middleton NIWA 2019

Blue economy 

A key aspect of the research will require new and innovative approaches to managing, growing and measuring the blue economy, and working toward a blue economy approach founded on Māori principles.

Risk and uncertainty 

Exploring the needs of Māori in achieving a marine decision-making and management approach that addresses risk and uncertainty with a Māori cultural and commercial context that recognises intergenerational well-being.

Credit: Dave Allen NIWA

Enhancing EBM practices

Providing for the development and implementation of an EBM approach that is informed by mātauranga Māori, enables innovative governance and jurisdiction models at different scales, and recognises Māori rights and interests through greater partnership.

Credit: Ayushi Kachhara NIWA 2018


Māori-led and centred research that works collaboratively across the Tangaroa portfolio and theme research to achieve iwi and hapū aspirations directly, providing for active and focussed VM related innovations and outcomes.

Credit: Graham Prentice, mychillybin

EBM in action

Supporting the application of a Te Ao Māori approach to ensure outputs and outcomes produced by Challenge research meet the ongoing needs and aspirations of Māori, and ensuring tangata whenua and Treaty partnership needs are addressed in regional case studies.

Credit: Ben Noll NIWA 2018

VM Phase II

The second phase of the Challenge builds on our established relationships with a number of iwi, hapū, whānau and Māori organisations, and to continues to support iwi, hapū and Māori led and partnered research projects and initiatives. 

The Manahautū (Deputy Director Māori) position has been established to better recognise and provide for the important and unique relationships and interests (commercial and customary) of Māori to our marine environment.  It reflects the desire of the Challenge to work in partnership with Māori, not only in relation to its research, but also to its collaboration with government, commercial and community interests.

The Manahautū oversees a collaboration of effort bringing together the necessary skills, expertise, networks and connections to support research outcomes that are both relevant and important to Māori as well as contributing to achieving the Challenge objective. 


This collaboration includes:

  • The VM Leadership Group – who bring together the Theme Leader of Tangaroa along with Māori project leaders across all of the Themes and Programmes to provide support and advice to implement VM across the Challenge.
  • Te Hononga – a group made up of all the Māori researchers in the Challenge, who come together regularly to share and discuss their research, to facilitate capability development opportunities, and contribute to providing a Te Ao Māori approach throughout our work.
  • The engagement of a Strategic Māori Advisory Group to the Challenge to enable us to achieve direct impact from our research into Māori communities and businesses.
  • A VM Fund available to support researchers, iwi, hapū and Māori organisations to undertake specific initiatives aimed at supporting effective co-design and development, purposeful engagement and capability development.
  • A specifically targeted Māori communications budget that will support us achieving greater impact with Māori partners and audiences.

VM Phase 1

In Phase I, a VM programme was led by James Whetu from Whetu Consultancy Group. Our goal in the first phase of the Challenge was to have Māori communities participate in Sustainable Seas Challenge research.

We aimed to:

  • Develop and enhance relationships with iwi, with a focus on iwi in Te Tau Ihu (top of the South Island)
  • Support the involvement of Māori in research projects. 
  • Seek, gather, incorporate and integrate mātauranga Māori into research projects 
  • Understand how kaupapa Māori research is carried out within transdisciplinary/multidisciplinary research 
  • Develop distinctive and innovative approaches to manage our marine environment. 
Projects from Phase I

Incorporation of indigenous approaches to guardianship and stewardship in Canada 

Repository of knowledge: mātauranga Māori