About Te Tira Whakamātaki

Ngā kaupapa o Te Tira Whakamātaki

Te Tira Whakamātaki is a Māori environmental not-for-profit – protecting our natural heritage through the use of indigenous solutions.

We work to reverse the decline of our biodiversity, to restore balance to our natural world, and re-establish a reciprocal relationship with Papatūānuku (Mother Earth), is embedded in our ancestor’s knowledge of the environment, our indigenous philosophies, and science. This means we start by recognising indigenous peoples as the best guardians of not only their own lands but of all nature, and indigenous knowledge (in our case mātauranga Māori) as a legitimate knowledge system that is more complex than science. 

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Te Tira Whakamātaki Whakapapa - Our Story

In 2015 Māori scientists Dr Amanda Black (soil scientist), Dr Nick Waipara (plant pathologist) and Melanie Mark-Shadbolt (social scientist) came together to test the need for a Māori Biosecurity Network. Supported by funding from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, via a Vision Mātauranga Connect Fund, they travelled the country talking to whānau, hapū and iwi about the lack of Māori participants in the biosecurity system and the exclusion of mātauranga from biosecurity solutions. 

In 2016 the Māori Biosecurity Network was informally established to connect Māori communities working to protect Aotearoa’s biological resources from biosecurity risks and threats, like the potentially devastating plant disease myrtle rust. Initially an informal coalition of the willing, biosecurity information and research was shared with Māori communities and entities across the country. 

In April 2017 the Māori Biosecurity Network was officially formed and gifted the name Te Tira Whakamātaki, the watchful ones, by Matua Kevin Prime and Dr Jamie Ataria. In May 2017 myrtle rust hit our shores, and because of the pre-emptive work Te Tira Whakamātaki had done across the country, the network was catapulted into the national limelight as it worked to support hapū/iwi respond and organised training for Māori environmental technicians. By August 2017 the National Iwi Chairs Forum, a collective of 70+ iwi entities, had mandated Te Tira Whakamātaki as their biosecurity technicians, sponsored by Te Rarawa Chair Haami Piripi. 

Te Tira Whakamātaki Limited (the Company) was formed in 2018, and in 2019 Te Tira Whakamātaki Foundation was created, it obtained charitable status, took control of the Company, and expanded the organisations brief to cover the protection of all of Aotearoa New Zealand’s taonga species and natural heritage. 

Described as thought-leaders in the research, science and innovation sector, as staunch environmental advocates by Māori and indigenous communities across the globe, and as engaging specialists by industry and government entities alike, Te Tira Whakamātaki is absolutely committed to advocating for indigenous-led solutions for a better planet.

Melanie Mark Shadbolt, Dr Amanda Black & Dr Nick Waipara
Melanie Mark-Shadbolt, Dr Amanda Black, Dr Nick Waipara

Our Awards



Awarded By

2016Dave Galloway Innovation AwardNew Zealand Biosecurity Institute
2017Maori Biosecurity AwardNZ Biosecurity Awards, Ministry of Primary Industries
2018Scion - Protecting NZ Primary Sector - an Urban Battlefield, Biological Heritage Challenge Science AwardNZ Biosecurity Awards, Ministry of Primary Industries
2018Dr Amanda Black - Asure Quality Emerging Leader AwardNZ Biosecurity Awards, Ministry of Primary Industries
2019 Myrtle Rust Consortium - Bio Protection Research Centre Science AwardNZ Biosecurity Awards, Ministry of Primary Industries
2020Tame Malcolm - AsureQuality Emerging Leader AwardNZ Biosecurity Awards, Ministry of Primary Industries

Maori Biosecurity Award

Mission and Values

Our work is guided by the following Māori principles.

Tohungatanga / Expertise
Rangatiratanga / Leadership
Whakapapa / Connections
Mana Motuhake / Self-determination
Mōhiotanga | Awareness
Manaakitanga / Reciprocity of care

Our mission is simple; we protect what our communities value and what is of importance to them, through the use of indigenous solutions for a better world.

Our Structure

Te Tira Whakamātaki is lead and guided by a Kāhui Kaumātua. Our Kāhui comprises elders whose knowledge and wisdom is vital for ensuring we stay the course and do the work required of us.

Te Tira Whakamātaki foundation is a charitable trust committed to education and action. Led by our founders, the Board of Trustees, as responsible for ensuring the foundation is meeting its charitable goals. 

Te Tira Whakamātaki Limited is a charitable company owned wholly by Te Tira Whakamātaki Foundation. The company focuses on research and engagement work that contributes to our mission and the work of the Foundation. The Board of Directors are appointed by the foundation and guided by our Kāhui of Kaumatua.