Adaptation Strategies to Address Climate Change Impacts on Coastal Māori Communities

river at Ohau farm

Project Duration: October 2015 – March 2017

Project Budget: $250, 000

New Zealand has significant levels of development in coastal areas that are already affected by sea level rise. Erosion of beaches and the collapse of some coastal infrastructure during storms is already evident in several parts of the country. More subtle and widespread effects such as flooding due to rise in groundwater can also be significant. The aim of this project is to develop a framework for building resilience in coastal Māori farming communities by identifying culturally-informed climate change adaptation strategies; and testing their economic, environmental and cultural implications through a series of designed, whole-of-farm scenarios. Explicit consideration of iwi and hapū perspectives is regarded as critical, as a recent review of New Zealand’s adaptive capacity found that such perspectives can reflect a clear sense of inter-generational stewardship as an active exercise of kaitiakitanga.

This participatory action research project will specifically focus on two case study farms and two ahu whenua trusts in the Horowhenua–Kāpiti region to capture their particular risks and opportunities, based on projected future climate change-related impacts in the region. It will consider the interdependence between cultural, economic and ecological issues to explore practical, culturally-appropriate adaptive and diversified land use practices that are better suited to the changed conditions, which are likely to result due to climate change impacts. The research design and methodology are based on established kaupapa Māori research principles, and the project is organised around wānanga, hui and hikoi that bring together iwi and hapū, stakeholders and the research team, as a way of co-producing new knowledge and capability to identify, respond and adapt to potential climate change impacts. The project is expected to build Māori capacity to proactively and productively adapt to climate change, leading to new processes of effective social engagement for dealing with this issue.

Contact Principal Investigator:

Dr Huhana Smith, Te Rangitāwhia Whakatupu Mātauranga Ltd

Massey University – Palmerston North, Email:


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