Reporting back

Protecting mahinga kai values on farm

Date: 01 July 2019
Category: Water and Land


Mahinga kai values are protected, by improving awareness and practices on farm.


44% of surveyed farmers were aware of mahinga kai when surveyed in 2019. This is up from 28% the previous year.

About this goal

A requirement in Farm Environment Plans is for farmers to identify and provide for mahinga kai values on their land while mitigating risks to those values.

The surveys were undertaken in June 2018 and June 2019 were designed to gauge levels of comprehension and attitudes about mahinga kai within the farming community.

The survey in 2018 spoke to 403 farmers within the Selwyn Waihora, Kaikōura, Hurunui, Ashburton, and Orari Temuka Opihi Pareora (OTOP) zones.

The survey in 2019 was more representative, with 453 farmers being surveyed in all ten water zones.

Why does it matter?

Mahinga kai is about the value of natural resources – our birds, plants, fish, and other animals and resources that sustain life, including the life of people.

For Ngāi Tahu, it is critical to manage these resources to allow people to continue gathering kai (food) in the way the ancestors did, and about mana and manaakitanga - the ability to welcome and host visitors by providing bountiful produce, as a demonstration of hospitality and respect. These things are the essence of kaitiakitanga, or what many people today call guardianship.

This practice remains a foundation of Ngāi Tahu values today, although it has become increasingly difficult as sites, species, and habitats are lost, degraded, or compromised.

What's being done?

The evidence shows the recent work undertaken by our Pou Mātai Kō (Cultural Land Management Advisors) in Selwyn Waihora, Hurunui, and Kaikōura is starting to make an impact, but there is still some way to go. With plans in place to appoint another Pou Mātai Kō in the near future, it is expected that awareness of mahinga kai will further increase.

In Selwyn Waihora, where Environment Canterbury has been working with farmers the longest to help them meet their mahinga kai requirements, awareness is 61% (up from 39%) and in Kaikōura/Hurunui zones awareness is 59% (up from 26%).

Total sample 2018 (403), Kaikōura/Hurunui water zones (95), Selwyn Waihora water zone (98), Ashburton water zone (107), Orari Temuka Opihi Pareora water zone (103). Q7: Before today, have you heard of the Māori concept "mahinga kai"?

Total sample 2019 (453), Kaikōura/Hurunui water zones (63), Selwyn Waihora water zone (56), Waimakariri water zone (104), Christchurch/Banks Peninsula water zones (54), Ashburton water zone (64), Orari Temuka Opihi Pareora water zone (54), Upper/Lower Waitaki water zone (58). Q7: Before today, have you heard of the Māori concept of “mahinga kai”?

Find out more

View our Mahinga kai species guide.

View more about Farm Environment Plans in our Farmers' hub.

Find out how ratepayer funding supports this work with our Rates Tool.


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