Ngai Tamanuhiri

Ngai Tamanuhiri signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Allan Wilson Centre

On 16 August 2013 Ngai Tamanuhiri signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Allan Wilson Centre (AWC) to exchange scientific information that will help the iwi realise their bold plan for development of their lands and people, and help scientists more directly communicate their research findings and put them into action. The Allan Wilson Centre investigators also stand to gain a more practical, personal understanding of how iwi approach ecological restoration and the goal of sustainable land and water management.

The Chairman of the Allan Wilson Centre Jim McLean, Governance Board member Rau Kirikiri, Director Professor Hamish Spencer, Manager Wendy Newport-Smith, and eminent anthropologist Professor Lisa Matisoo-Smith, attended the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding at Muriwai Marae.

Richard Brooking, the Ngai Tamanuhiri General Manager, said “Ngai Tamanuhiri started working with the Allan Wilson Centre when I was approached by Sir Paul Callaghan who was visiting Te Aitanga Hauiti to develop the Transit of Venus project. Sir Paul believed that our future would be enhanced by a focus on scientific discovery and the businesses that flowed from that.

“One aspect of the Hauiti project related to a biodiversity plan for the Uawa River which Tamanuhiri was keen to replicate. Initial work with Peter Handford (one of the consultants to AWC) to map our rohe, and make sense of the topography and best use of the land, has happened during the past year. Specific studies of some of our landblocks have provided high quality information about the land and its use for various management committees.

“We pride ourselves on our relationship with Papatuanuku and the challenge of reconnecting with the Moana and the Whenua is as much a cultural journey as it is a scientific expedition.”

On the eve of the signing ceremony, Professor Matisoo-Smith gave a lecture on the great human migration out of Africa, which began 65,000 years ago, and ended in Gisborne, 800 years ago. She is undertaking a Genetic Ancestry Study of New Zealand, sampling the DNA of 2,000 New Zealanders, including some from Ngai Tamanuhiri. Her analysis will reveal ancient lineages going back thousands of years, rather than recent family history.

Professor Hamish Spencer said, “The scientists of the Allan Wilson Centre are concerned with the past and future evolution of humans, animals and plants, and their migration and unique development here over some 80 million years since the New Zealand landmass split from the Gondwana continent. In that timeframe, all humans are relative newcomers. Their arrival here in Tairawhiti is enormously significant and has had profound consequences for all other life in New Zealand, just as the arrival of Europeans did for Maori.

“This new partnership signals a future in which the best ideas and practices of both peoples will restore a healthy and balanced environment and achieve the goal of a sustainable economy.”

For further information
Contact Jody Toroa, , 022 605 0852, Wendy Newport-Smith, manager of the Allan Wilson Centre , 021 423 757, or communications advisor to the Allan Wilson Centre, Glenda Lewis, , 027 210 0997
 Restoration guide
 Uawanui Project booklet