Rāranga Tahi, the Te Herenga national hui 2020

07 May 2020

This year’s Te Herenga national hui, Rāranga Tahi, enabled members to hear from guest speakers and wānanga a range of environmental issues.

Rangatahi were invited to share their views, and ESR (the Institute of Environmental Science and Research) and WorkSafe also discussed their work with the group.

The biennial Te Herenga national hui was held at Takapūwāhia Marae on 11 and 12 March 2020.

The theme of this year’s hui, Rāranga Tahi, encapsulated the aims of weaving the EPA, Te Herenga and other agencies together as one through korero and a combined understanding of purpose, and also enabling the voice of our rangatahi.

The hui was jointly hosted by the EPA and Te Rūnanga o Toa Rangatira - Ngāti Toa, and brought together kaitiaki, iwi and hapū environmental resource managers and practitioners, kaumātua, and other invited guests. It provided an opportunity to wānanga environmental issues of mutual interest, and to hear from guest speakers.

Te Herenga network

Te Herenga is the EPA’s national Māori network. The name Te Herenga means ‘the ties that bind’ and the network provides a forum for kaitiaki and environmental resource managers to come together and discuss important environmental issues.

The network was named after the pounamu mauri stone, Te Herenga, gifted to the EPA and the network in 2012 by Ngāi Tahu.

The Te Herenga Network was set up following a 2012 review of the Māori National Network that was established in 2003 under EPA’s predecessor, ERMA New Zealand.

Acknowledging the perspectives of young people

The theme, Rāranga Tahi, added focus to the involvement of rangatahi and the importance of their perspectives when addressing current and future issues for our taiao.

Rangatahi accompanied Te Herenga members to the hui, and were part of the wānanga and discussions so they could learn about the EPA and have their voices heard. This recognises that their increased involvement, and planning by Te Herenga, is needed to ensure the network will remain productive for many years to come.

Te Wainuiarua Poa and Morgan King – summer interns with Kaupapa Kura Taiao, the EPA’s Māori Policy and Operations team – facilitated three workshops with rangatahi. These focused on issues that are most important to them, and how these align to Te Herenga and the EPA.

The final workshop saw all rangatahi present to the wider group and lay several challenges relating to what is important to them. These included developing a consistent approach to involving rangatahi in Te Herenga, supporting them to build their understanding of the work of the EPA through internships and secondments, and distributing information resources in ways that are accessible to them.

Responding to the challenge, Doug Jones, Manahautū Kaupapa Kura Taiao, said: “The EPA values our relationship with Te Herenga and the opportunity this hui provided to assist rangatahi to understand our work. We look forward to working with Te Herenga to respond to the challenges laid down by rangatahi.”

Another EPA summer intern, Helena Abolins-Thompson, of Ngāti Toa descent, gave a presentation on her journey with the EPA. She discussed the eDNA project she has been working on alongside EPA chief scientist Michael Bunce. This includes testing of Te Awarua o Porirua (Porirua Harbour) in partnership with Ngāti Toa. Helena presented the results of water sampling undertaken by local tamariki, and showcased the species found in the harbour.

Other presenters included Naomi Solomon on the environmental challenges faced by Ngāti Toa and the initiatives the iwi has developed to respond to these; Erica Gregory, with an overview of the EPA’s mātauranga programme; and Maui Hudson, who outlined tools to support the appropriate labelling of mātauranga within databases.

Engaging with other agencies

The hui enabled Te Herenga members to engage with other agencies, and to gain a wider perspective and insight into environmental issues.

Working with ESR and WorkSafe for the first time, Te Herenga members heard about how mātauranga and science can both be used to address regional environmental issues facing people and communities. They also discussed workplace health, and keeping safe at work.

Feedback from participants received by Kaupapa Kura Taiao will help us support Te Herenga and plan for the next hui.