Oceans symposium to focus on protecting our oceans

The National Commission is sponsoring Moananui, an ocean sustainability programme with a particular lens around indigenous relationships with the ocean. The grant will cover expenses associated with a two-day oceans symposium ‘Te Paepae o Tangaroa’, held between 6-7 October 2019 in Gisborne.

The details

The symposium will see a unique gathering of kaitiaki, scientists, voyagers and environmental leaders gather from Te Tairāwhiti, around Aotearoa and the wider Pacific to explore relationships with our ocean in the past, present and future.

The symposium is organised by Moananui, a community engagement initiative led by Te Hā Trust, in partnership with the traditional voyaging community in Aotearoa. It is also supported by Ngā Pae o Te Māramatanga and Lotteries Environment and Heritage.

Te Paepae o Tangaroa will focus on the practical ways communities are protecting their lands, waterways and ocean spaces; and on new proposals to legally recognise the life and voice of the Pacific Ocean.

Dr Wayne Ngata, Moananui advocate, says this is an important kaupapa for the people of the Gisborne region to host and engage with.

“We are people of the sea – we live next to the sea, we live on the sea, we live in the sea, we come from the sea. We carry this kaupapa as part of the legacy of our ancestors.”

Helping the community think about what that legacy is, and could be, are some highly respected thinkers and doers.

Ian Ruru is one of 13 local speakers carrying the kōrero for Tairāwhiti. Ian has a scientific background in marine and freshwater fisheries and gained his appreciation for mātauranga Māori from his father, the late Bill Ruru, as they taught qualifications in aquaculture and customary fishing at 300 marae. Ian will be joined by other local voices: Walton Walker, Peter Boyd, Amber Dunn, Jay Love and Ngahuia Mita, sharing about the history of the region and the current state of waters in Tairāwhiti.

As the conference broadens its scope to explore larger scale problems across Aotearoa, national speakers such as Jacinta Ruru (Raukawa, Ngāti Ranginui) will take the floor. Jacinta’s extensive research considers Indigenous’ peoples’ rights, interests and responsibilities to own and care for lands and waters. Jacinta advocates for the flourishing of Māori research and learning and is passionate about local community solutions for building resilience. Others including Regan Fairlie (Ngāti Porou), Hinano Teavai-Murphy (Mo’orea), Astrid Drollet (Tahiti) and Maureen Penjueli (Rotuma) will also share knowledge and expertise from both Western science and indigenous perspectives.

As the symposium looks at different approaches to protecting the ocean and the communities who rely on it, a contingent of six international speakers will contribute a critical Pacific lens and highlight the incredible work being done around Te Moananui a Kiwa.

Of particular interest will be Jacqui Evans from the Cook Islands, who helped create the Marae Moana marine park, a protected area that covers the entire Cook Islands exclusive economic zone – all 1.9 million square kilometres of the country’s ocean territory. The park includes a 50 nautical mile zone around each of the 15 islands where commercial fishing and seabed mining isn’t permitted, leaving these areas to be used exclusively by island communities.

Kosi Latu is also joining the symposium. Based in Samoa, Kosi is Director General of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), a collective of 26 countries including Aotearoa with the purpose of protecting and managing the natural environment of the Pacific. Kosi is one of the Pacific’s greatest champions on the international stage, where he argues for the health of the ocean and the wellbeing of Pacific peoples.

In all, 25 speakers and presenters will contribute their time, voice and considerable knowledge – highlighting the practical work being done to nurture and inspire care for the oceans in communities across the Pacific – hence the name, as Dr Ngata explains.

“The name Te Paepae o Tangaroa is taken obviously from Tangaroa, from the sea. Te Paepae is a place we can sit upon, debate, discuss, reflect and plan for the future of our oceans.”

“So this symposium gives us a platform upon which those working locally, nationally and internationally, will share insightful kōrero (conversations) and considerable collective mātauranga (knowledge) relating to the ocean.”

Te Paepae o Tangaroa will run Sunday October 6 and Monday October 7, at Whirikoka Campus, Te Wānanga o Aotearoa.

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