University researchers swamped with pūtea

By Regan Paranihi
Waikato Repo (wetlands). Source - Flickr

University of Waikato and government researchers have received additional funding to educate the public on the importance of repo (wetlands) across the motu.

Named Karangatia o ngā repo me ngā tangata, the project, led by the University of Waikato Science Learning Hub and Manaaki Whenua - Landcare Research now has over $100,000 to make billingual learning resources and conduct wānanga.

The strong mātauranga Māori aspect of the project will give an in-depth understanding of how culturally significant wetlands are to Māori. 

The project aims to create multimedia educational resources that are based on contemporary research into wetland ecology and restoration here in New Zealand.

Science Learning Hub Project Manager, Andrea Soanes says, "Our wetlands are in danger. They are regarded as a taonga and they are so important for everything we do, from managing water quality to flood protection and providing habitats for a wide variety of animal and plant life."

She also refers to the wetlands as being a key source for the planet and how this project will contribute to the revival of wetlands across the country.

"They have been described as the kidneys of our planet. This project is another part of the turning tide to see them valued more and restored.”

Manaaki Whenua Lead Researcher/Kairangahau Yvonne Taura says the resources that will be developed in this project will hold key information around repo (wetlands) and everything that is connected to it.

“Throughout the project we want to foster kaitiakitanga and empower our communities, including our tamariki and rangatahi, to learn about and care for the wellbeing of their repo."

This research project will include workshops with Kura Kaupapa Māori within the Waikato, Canterbury and Otago regions as well as wetland experts to maximise on both the intergenerational learning and the facts.

"We will also wānanga with the kura to provide an opportunity for intergenerational learning and rebuild connectedness with their repo among kaiako, tauira, whānau and community members,” Taura says.

This project is the first of its kind and both Soanes and Taurua hope it will communicate mātauranga Māori and science in a meaningful and understandable way.

This is a year-long project and will commence on February 1.