Tauranga Moana Case Study

‘The Tauranga Moana Case Study is coordinated by Manaaki Te Awanui Trust who, facilitate and conduct Manaaki Taha Moana research within Tauranga Moana. Our research is founded upon valuing mātauranga māori as a tool to support the restoration and enhancement of coastal ecosystems.

Our projects place emphasis on iwi/hapu/whanau capacity building as a necessary step towards empowering kaitiakitanga and tino rangatiratanga of Te Awanui and its resources. Manaaki te Awanui therefore works alongside tangata whenua to support and develop meaningful research projects and tools that will help realise the environmental aspirations of hapu and iwi of Tauranga Moana.

Our research is a collaborative venture which sees us work closely with the Manaaki Taha Moana research partners (Massey University, Cawthron Institute, Waka Digital and Taiao Raukawa) as well as the local and regional authorities, tertiary institutes and environmental agencies.

We are currently in the fifth year of the six year project and are looking forward to an exciting and busy year. For further information regarding our research or any of our upcoming projects please feel free to contact our office on:
07 5784054 or email manaakiteawanui@gmail.com

In the Tauranga Moana Case Study:


A Literature Review of Shellfish Beds in Te Awanui

 The purpose of this report was to conduct a literature review on five shellfish species of particular cultural significance   to tangata whenua of Te Awanui. These shellfish species were identified as: pipi (Paphies australis), tuangi/cockle (Austrovenus stuchburyi), kukuroa/ureroa/horse mussel (Atrina zelandica), tupa/scallop (Pecten novaezelandiae) and titiko/ mud snail (Amphibola crenata). The aim of this review was to conduct a stocktake of research pertaining to these five focus species, specifically focusing on studies conducted within Te Awanui. The review focuses on factors effecting shellfish harvest ability and safety of consumption. The data collated will provide the basis for developing informed monitoring, enhancement and or restoration strategies for the shellfish populations of Te Awanui.


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A Cultural Review of the Health of Te Awanui

This report aims to provide a cultural review of the health of Te Awanui. The report is based on a literature review of archives, cultural impact assessments, resource consent submissions, Waitangi Tribunal reports and other published reports. The report first investigates the disempowerment of kaitiakitanga and rangatiratanga within Tauranga Moana. It describes how legislative mechanisms have impacted kaitiakitanga and rangatiratanga of Tauranga Maori, and reviews the challenges associated with the re-emergence of kaitiakitanga in today’s contemporary setting. The report then provides a summary of cultural accounts, which highlight the major pressures experienced by the coastal systems of Te Awanui.

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This project adopts a cross-cultural approach to environmental monitoring, and aims to assess the estuarine area adjacent to the Te Maunga Wastewater Treatment Plant from a cultural perspective.

The main objectives of the project are to:

  • Build and design monitoring tools that integrate cultural values,
  • Build capacity for tangata whenua to use and implement environmental monitoring tools
  • Use these tools to initiate mitigation and measure mitigation responses.

The project is made up of four major components:

  • The Coastal Cultural Health Index aims to determine the health of the area using a set of cultural indicators to provide baseline data to monitor changes from a unique maori perspective,
  • The Ecological Survey aims to determine how cumulative impacts affect the infaunal biodiversity within the study area,
  • The Taonga Species Survey identifies the present distribution and contamination levels of taonga species in the study area,
  • The Mitigation Matrix aims to collate the data from each component in order to determine best solution strategies for mitigation and future management of the Te Maunga area.




The ecological survey serves as part of the Te Maunga Wastewater Management Project and aimed to determine how cumulative impacts are affecting infaunal biodiversity within Te Tahuna o Rangataua. This was accomplished by utilizing a fine scale benthic monitoring approach, together with a distance-gradient sampling design, to measure any impacts the Te Maunga Wastewater Treatment Ponds may be having to the ecology of the area. Sampling focused on sediment chemico-physical properties and infaunal macro-fauna; as indicators of estuarine health. Results indicate that closer to the impact site (Wastewater Treatment Ponds) sediment characteristics were found to have slightly elevated nutrients (phosphorus and nitrogen) and elevated Chlorophyll ∝ concentrations; properties indicative of eutrophic conditions. Community composition was found to change along a gradient of distance, with communities closest to the impact site consisting of a few infaunal species, such as Nereididae polychaete worms and amphipods. Community composition at sites further away from the impact site consisted of a more diverse range of species, including important infaunal animals such as bivalves. The survey found that other anthropogenic stressors, such as freshwater and storm water inputs, are also collectively impacting estuarine condition and biodiversity within Te Tahuna o Rangataua.


An integral component of the Te Maunga Waste Water Management Project was centralized on Taonga species within Te Tahuna o Rangataua. A taonga species survey was undertaken, which involved an assessment of faecal and heavy metal contamination levels in titiko (Amphibola crenata) in the area adjacent to the Te Maunga Treatment ponds. Titiko were sampled over four periods (August, September, December 2014 and January 2015). Results for faecal contamination were found to be highly variable over space and time, while trace metal concentrations showed little variability. Key findings from the four sampling periods are presented here:

  • Titiko collected during August 2014 were found to have the highest concentrations of Escherichia coli bacteria across all sampling periods, with particularly high contamination in areas closest to the impact site.
  • Results from the September and December 2014 sampling periods found a drastic decrease in E.coli concentrations comparative to August 2014, falling below levels deemed acceptable for human consumption (230 MPN/100g).
  • The results for the January 2015 sampling period also found low concentrations, with the exception of two sites, at distance 100-300m and 300-600m from the impact site. These sites had exceedingly high E.coli concentrations, well above “un-acceptable” levels.
  • Trace metals (arsenic, copper, lead, mercury and zinc) within titiko tissue were found to be relatively low across sampling periods. Arsenic and copper were found to be slightly higher in January 2015 comparative to other months.


A Framework for the Development of a Coastal Cultural Health Index (CCHI) for Te Awanui

The Coastal Cultural Health Index (CCHI) for Te Awanui builds on previous research to construct an index capable of evaluating the health of Te Awanui, from a unique indigenous perspective. Ideally the CCHI will provide a basis for monitoring changes into the future, with a focus on areas of major degradation or biodiversity hotspots. This report is the first of two CCHI reports that examine the integration of matauranga Maori into coastal environmental monitoring strategies. This report is guided by the “Te Kupenga Tairoa Framework”, which outlines the process and methodologies used to formulate the cultural indicators. The report starts with a literature review of environmental indicators and local cultural issues. It then investigates two case study areas within Te Awanui, Ngati Taka and Te Whanau a Tauwhao ki Otawhiwhi. Finally it discusses in detail the development of the cultural indicators.


This is the second of two reports that investigate the development of a coastal cultural health index for Te Awanui. The first report focuses on the initial stages of cultural indicator development, and the second outlines the indicator refinement process, field survey protocols, analysis methods and reporting outputs. The Taonga Species Health Model (TSHM) framework was employed to guide the final stages of indicator development. The indicator refinement phase involved a number of wananga with participant groups. During wananga, participants and researchers worked together to collate and document historic observations, values, aspirations and matauranga Maori. These wananga enabled the collective consolidation and refinement of each cultural indicator. Using the cultural indicators a number of estuarine sites were assessed, to produce baseline data that will be used to develop restoration plans and guide future monitoring. Not only did the process serve to develop indicators; it also helped to facilitate the sharing of knowledge, and reinforce connections with the moana, and people of the area.