This 2017 research project, undertaken with Māori coastal communities north of Wellington, New Zealand, was funded as part of the national Vision Mātauranga programme of The Deep South Te Kōmata o Te Tonga National Science Challenge. The project sought to understand how aspects of the Mātauranga Māori worldview could be explored and developed alongside climate change science, geomorphology, ecological economics and design principles, informing new paradigms for resilience and adaptation to climate change for coastal Māori farming communities.
Climate change predictions for the region suggest that increasing high tides and storm surges will exacerbate coastal erosion and flooding, making groundwater aquifers near the coastline vulnerable to saltwater intrusion sea, and seriously impacting the viability of farms on the coast. Our multidisciplinary team looked at how thresholds, evident in both Māori and scientific knowledge systems, might signal need for change and thereby empower communities to incrementally adapt.
Research was regularly exhibited as a way of testing ideas, the final outcome being part of a multimedia exhibition entitled Political Ecology: This Time of Useful Consciousness at the Dowse Gallery in Wellington in May 2017.
The project also resulted in the following publications: article Climate Change Adaptations for Coastal Farms: Bridging Science and Mātauranga Māori with Art and Design, published in The Plan Journal; book chapter ‘Thresholds and contingencies: a design process for regional coastal resilience’ published in Design for Coastal Resilience; and chapter ‘Mātauranga Māori, art and design: unconventional ways for addressing climate change impacts’, published in Key Concepts in Indigenous Studies.