Mātauranga Māori


Assoc Prof Jon Procter

Programme Leader

Massey University




For as long as there have been people in New Zealand, there have been natural hazards. As a result of this, we have long-lived, successful traditional planning techniques that have survived through the ages in the face of these hazards. The Better Understanding and Implementation of Mātauranga Māori and Tikanga to Build Resilience programme is integrating this local/traditional/Iwi knowledge, as well as new Te Reo and Māori values into improved natural hazard resilience strategies for all New Zealand communities.  It is also providing a basis for Māori researchers to explore Mātauranga Māori, Māori innovation and creativity and explore more meaningful ways to communicate resilient solutions. 

The programme is producing new hazard and environmental management tools and iwi development strategies that are rooted in traditional planning techniques. This pool of resources and Māori researchers will also guide other researchers to fulfil Vision Mātauranga principles and outcomes within the other strands of research within the Resilience Challenge.



Radio NZ interview : Exploring resilience amongst the land and people

Dr Wendy Saunders, Lucy Carter and Dr Taiahara Black speak about their work as part of the Resilience to Nature’s Challenges Mātauranga Māori programme.

Listen >




Wāhanga Tuatahi (Tikanga Māori)

Providing underpinning guidance to Mātauranga Māori and developing tikanga to support the strategies and case-study approaches of the Resilience Challenge. The project is elucidating Mātauranga Māori and developing existing and new Te Reo in relation to natural hazard and resilience to support hazard education, hazard management, emergency response and disaster recovery.

Project lead: Dr Dan Hikuroa

Host: The University of Auckland


Wāhanga Tuarua (Māori Assets)

 Identifying and strengthening key iwi/hapū assets (farms, forestry, marae, pa) that provide cornerstones of community resilience, through highlighting their role and importance and fostering appropriate adaptive strategies.

Project lead: Dr Cassie Kenney

Host: Massey University


Wāhanga Tuatoru (Māori cultural landscapes and kaitiakitanga)

Developing frameworks to support iwi to undertake their own natural hazard monitoring and management strategies and reviving traditional environmental planning methods for Māori land, natural resources and landscapes of cultural significance. 

Project lead: Assoc Prof Jon Procter

Host: Massey University


Tsunami risk reduction activities for kura kaupapa Māori 

This project, funded through the Challenge’s contestable funding process in 2017, is piloting a culturally appropriate educational outreach activity programme for primary school children enrolled at a kura kaupapa Māori.

Project lead: Lucy Carter

Host: Massey University


Feature: The role of te reo knowledge and scholarship in the compilation of traditional and contemporary mōteatea

Development of te reo publication resources for whānau, hapū and iwi marae wananga, including Māori language teachers.

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Key Achievements


Legislative review

Environmental management plans have been reviewed to explore synergies for resilience/emergency management strategies.


Community Hazard Monitoring

Iwi developing and implementing their own volcano monitoring methods. 


Coastal Hazards

Iwi articulated tsunami adaption strategies and tsunami record.




Indigenous Knowledge Publications

Models for knowledge creation and Te Reo development.


Hapū/Marae Resilience

A hui was held and plans and guidelines have been developed for emergency management.


Kaikōura Earthquake Response

Engineering analysis for health and wellbeing of Māori.


Feature: Investigating the role of iwi management plans in natural hazard management

Iwi management plans  provide a link between Mātauranga Māori and land use planning, however, their role within council planning processes is uncertain.

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Thesis Research Students

Jake Robinson (PhD at Massey University) – Developing Sediment Fingerprinting Techniques for the Whanganui Catchment, New Zealand.

Hauiti Hakopa (PhD at Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi) – Digital visualisations of cultural resilience in the Ohiwa harbour.


Feature: Student Profile

Jake Robinson

Jake is undertaking PhD research investigating sediment tracing in the Whanganui River catchment.

He is incorporating mātauranga pūtaiao into this research, ensuring Mātauranga Māori is a key component in developing effective research tools for this project and management strategies for the future.

Read more >

Selected publications

Phibbs, S., Kenney, C., Rivera-Munoz, G., Huggins, T., Severinsen, C., Curtis, B. 2018. The Inverse Response Law: Theory and Relevance to the Aftermath of Disasters. International Journal of Environmental Research & Public Health, 15 (5), 916. 

Gabrielsen, H., Procter, J., Rainforth, H., Black, T., Harmsworth, G., Pardo, N., 2017: Reflections from an Indigenous Community on Volcanic Event Management, Communications and Resilience.  In: Advances in Volcanology. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg, pp 1-17.

Hikuroa, D., 2017: Mātauranga Māori—the ūkaipō of knowledge in New Zealand. Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand 47(1): 5-10.

Kilvington, M., Saunders, W.S.A., 2017: Science to practice: understanding how natural hazard and climate science can be incorporated into land use plans. Planning Quarterly 205: 8-12.

Saunders, W.S.A., 2017: A risk-based approach to land use: planning for natural hazards. Planning Quarterly 205: 28-33.




  Mātauranga Māori programme details