Strengthening world-class iwi aquaculture


school of fish under body of water

E hika mā, tēnā tātou,

Ngā Iwi I te Rohe o Te Waiariki has embarked on a cross-country hīkoi to gather information about best practice aquaculture to then bring it back to the Bay of Plenty, to fortify and grow our world-class iwi operations.

Our Te Haerenga Ahumoana started in mid-November with our Collective representatives travelling to Te Waipounamu, where they met with innovation and technology leaders in Nelson from:

  • Sealord
  • Maara Moana Group
  • Cawthron Research Institute
  • Plant & Food Research
  • NIWA
  • NZ King Salmon

The hīkoi had three key objectives:

Build whānaungatanga between our collective Waiariki iwi and with iwi across the motu

Visit with science & technology leaders in marine and aquaculture

See best practice aquaculture in action and talk to practitioners to learn from their experiences

These objectives were achieved in spades and have set our Collective on a path of heightened collaboration, groundbreaking innovation and future prosperity for our people.

The whakaaro and first-hand experiences shared during each hui provided invaluable insights about future-proofing our iwi-led aquaculture ventures, sustainably grow job opportunities for whānau, and build aquaculture operations that support thriving, environmentally conscious hapori.

In building whānaungatanga with iwi from across the motu, the Waiariki collective will be able to harness the latest knowledge and innovations to make informed investment decisions and lead pioneering sustainable initiatives that will shape the future of Aotearoa New Zealand’s aquaculture industry – ultimately ensuring our people prosper.

As with any visit we might do anywhere in Aotearoa, or the world, we commenced our hīkoi in Te Waipounamu with a pōhiri from Ngāti Rārua and Wakatū at their tari in Nelson. 

This was a hugely important step for us as our whole trip was founded on tikanga – ours, and those in the South Island, and their welcome set the tone for our entire visit in their rohe.  

They were delighted to welcome us and we were thrilled to be there.  

The pōhiri was particularly personal for Chris Karamea Insley, sharing a connection with an East Coast cousin who is now based in Nelson. It was an emotion that was shared by all – the coming together of whakapapa in Waiariki and Te Waipounamu, to set the scene for future collaboration. 

One of our key objectives was to build whānaunatanga with iwi in Te Waipounamu, but equally, it was about strengthening that bond within our own roopu – both of which were more than achieved. Now, we have an even stronger foundation upon which to make future decisions for the benefit of all. 


In the same way that Ngā Iwi I te Rohe o Te Waiariki have come together to collectively grow our aquaculture opportunities at scale, eight iwi from Te Waipounamu have committed to collaborate together to do the same – both of our roopu have the same objective: to deliver greater long-term outcomes for our iwi and whānau. 

Called Maara Moana, the roopu brings together the Golden Bay and Tasman Bay aquaculture interests of the eight iwi of Te Tauihu (top of the South Island), including Ngāti Apa, Ngāti Koata, Ngāti Kuia, Ngāti Rārua, Ngāti Tama, Ngāti Toa, Rangitāne and Te Ātiaawa. 

Maara Moana Chair, Hemi Toia offered us a very warm welcome to the rohe, along with a desire for our two collectives to stay connected, and support each other to grow and achieve our objectives.  

It’s an offer that we will be taking up, and the opportunity to meet with them kanohi ki te kanohi was invaluable, sharing ideas, information and knowledge. 

To date they have identified significant opportunities (and challenges) around mussels, finfish, seaweed, other shellfish and kina. They are also looking at high functioning protein foods with a low carbon footprint. 

Hemi offered plenty of insights from their journey over the past six years, including the challenges that have frustrated their progress in that time.  

His key take home message – which aligns with ours – is that scale matters, and they are keen to work with Waiariki iwi as a result to help achieve this. 

We’ve already had some follow-up kōrero with Maara Moana since our haerenga so watch this space. 



Sealord is committed to doing right by our whānau, and the taiao, as it brings quality seafood to Aotearoa and the rest of the world.

Te mahi tika mō te whānau me te taiao ki te kawe i ngā kaimoana horotai ki te ao.

Working at Sealord is about doing the right thing, whether it’s for their team, or looking after the environment. The organisation is proud that its quality seafood produce is being sent around the world, feeding people of all cultures. Its vision as a business is to continue to build on this for the generations to come.

Sealord has been working with its people to come up with a new vision statement for the company that reflects what inspires them about working at Sealord.

Māori shareholder, Shaneen Simpson-Almond (Ngāti Tuwharetoa ki Kawerau) shares inside perspective from site visit

The visit to the Sealord processing factory in Nelson was eye-opening and had the smell of money in the air - FISH!

As soon as we stepped into the plant, the sound of the automated fish food processing line was deafening. The Sealord fish processing operation is huge - immediately we felt like fish out of water.

The processing plant was buzzing with people dressed from head to toe in their hygiene gear, following the strict food health and safety protocols.

Due to the timing of our visit, we witnessed the whole processing line of kaimahi stopped by their supervisors to stretch from their repetitive work, this being a regular workplace practice to decrease stress and injuries of kaimahi.

As we continued our walk through the processing plant,  we took every opportunity to talk with the Sealord kaimahi with genuine interest and care for these tangata. Consequently, we learnt that second and third generations of whānau work at Sealord and this mahi is their main source of seasonal income.

We connected with these people, as most of us were familiar with this workplace loyalty having been raised in paper mill or fruit-growing towns, where our korouia and kuia worked in the factories, and their children and mokopuna followed.

Having experienced and witnessed first-hand the Sealord kaimahi, processing plant and operations, it’s fair to say I now feel like a genuine owner. I highly recommend any Iwi shareholders take the opportunity to visit so they can see, smell and feel for themselves the assets we have here, and how we can make responsible shareholder decisions for the future benefit of our mokopuna.



Plant & Food Research is breeding fish in captivity for aquaculture purposes, in order to reduce reliance on wild fish stocks.

Successful aquaculture requires a particular kind of fish – one that thrives in captivity, loves living in groups, and tastes delicious.

The fish breeding programme aims to breed finfish that will allow the seafood industry to diversify and keep up with demand. By applying what the organisation has learnt in plant breeding to seafood, it will be able to breed fish with the traits that both aquaculture farmers and consumers can enjoy.

This includes necessary traits such as being quick growing, resilience to different environments, and resistance to common diseases. Fish lines also need good fillet size and colour, and can be processed and cooked without losing texture and flavour. Combined, this all makes them an ideal food product for consumers.

Plant & Food Research utilises the latest advances in genetics and genomics to advance the breeding of new aquaculture species. The organisation is also committed to working with indigenous groups, including iwi, to explore how breeding technologies can support wild fish stocks, and ensure sustainable fish populations for future generations.

Closer to home, scientists are researching the potential use for thousands of unwanted starfish, which have been decimating mussel beds in Ōhiwa Harbour.

Plant & Food Research is working in partnership with mana whenua, Waikato University and the Cawthron Institute to harvest the starfish and utilise their unique properties and collagen to develop nutraceuticals.


Cawthron Institute is helping cement science and technology career pathways for Māori rangatahi.

With the modern workforce evolving at eye watering speed, science and technology innovation has to be next level - generational.

Rangatahi from Te Whānau-ā-Apanui are working with Cawthron to successfully grow mussel spat in controlled environments, to then be released into the wild for seafood production and population rejuvenation.

Having rangatahi driving innovation in the aquaculture sector will help ensure more efficient adoption within iwi-led enterprises across the motu.


Imagining an open ocean aquaculture industry that supports the aspirations and values of kaupapa Māori aquaculture was one of the key highlights of our haerenga. 

This imagination has been captured in Te Kete Rau Kotahi, a new matauranga Māori aquaculture framework recently completed and released by Heni Unwin and Te Rerekohu Tuterangiwhiu from the Cawthron Institute, in conjunction with Ngā Iwi I te Rohe o Te Waiariki. 

We had the pleasure of hearing from Heni and Te Rerekohu directly, and their mahi and kōrero resonated with everyone in our roopu. 

Te Kete is the result of two years of mahi, including speaking with all the different iwi in our wider rohe, and is going to change the way research and development is undertaken in Aotearoa.  

So often Māori are an afterthought when it comes to science and research, but Te Kete flips the traditional models on their heads, putting te ao Māori values, practices and aspirations at the forefront. It’s a game changer. 

Maximising our kai moana potential on a global stage  

The past 12 months has seen significant free trade agreements established with two of our most critical export markets – the European Union and the United Kingdom – both of which have been achieved following Brexit. 

And while both FTAs offer massive potential to the entire country, there are particular opportunities and advantages for Māori businesses and exporters – including for iwi collectives like ours. 

We were delighted that Greg Andrews, MFAT’s Divisional Manager, Trade Policy Engagement and Implementation was able to join our roopu in Nelson, providing us with the latest intelligence about the opportunities available from these FTAs. 

Both provide the broadest set of outcomes for Māori that Aotearoa has ever negotiated, recognising Māori priorities in both markets, including the removal of tariffs, Te Tiriti, protection of intellectual property, and the critical importance of our taiao. 

However, the most critical success factor remains the effective implementation of the new FTAs – a level of value that is almost always lost as time goes on. We are committed to going against the trend in this respect, and will continue to collaborate and work hard in order to maximise the potential of the new opportunities provided. 

Te Haerenga Ahumoana vision

The hīkoi is just one aspect of what has been a three-year plan, stemming from our original hui in Whakatāne.

Two years ago, the Collective met in Eastern Bay of Plenty to learn about the Government's strategy to create a $3 billion aquaculture industry. There, we agreed to share knowledge and resources, and work collaboratively towards large-scale, world-class aquaculture in the Waiariki rohe.

A key action from this original hui was the commission of high-level economic analysis identifying priority species:

  • Greenlip Mussels
  • Open Ocean Kingfish
  • Land-based Kingfish
  • Seaweed
  • Scallops and Pāua

Te Haerenga Ahumoana is crucial to exposing our iwi to best practice in aquaculture, so we can then turn these priority species into viable operations.

The next 12 months will see two key developments propel this kaupapa forward:

  1. The settlement of our collective Māori Aquaculture Settlement
  2. Decisions around significant, collective $100-$200 million investments

These developments will help us to realise an expected $2 billion in new GDP per annum, and create the additional 2000 jobs identified in our original analysis.


As the new Government was sworn in this week, our roopu is optimistic about the opportunities and progress that will be provided – in particular by the combination of Hon. Shane Jones as Minister for Oceans and Fisheries, and Hon. David Seymour as Minister for Regulation. 

These are both portfolios that are enormously significant to the growth and advancement of iwi aquaculture. 

The coalition agreements effectively remove the single biggest obstacle to progressing aquaculture development, the complicated red tape around resource consent.   

Approval for major developments and projects will now rest with Ministers, which will allow us to fast-track iwi aquaculture developments, and start generating greater outcomes for our whanau.  

We congratulate the coalition Government on their appointment and look forward to working alongside them to advance our aquaculture interests, which will provide positive impacts for everyone.  


Planning is now underway for the second leg of our Hīkoi Ahumoana mai Te Ike a Maui early in the New Year. We will be hosted by Te Whakatōhea and Te Whānau a Apanui, Agrisea in Thames, and then on to NIWA and MoanaNZ at Bream Bay in Whangarei.

This hīkoi is an essential element to inform all of our iwi on the issues, challenges and opportunities we confront on what stands to be the largest aquaculture development in Aotearoa.

No reira, me noho pai ai tātou i te taha o tātou whānau mo te Kirihimete peka mai. Kia kaha, kia maia, kia manawanui tātou!

Iwi represented on the Waipounamu hikoi include:

  • Ngāti Porou
  • Te Whanau a Apanui
  • Ngaitai
  • Te Whakatohea
  • Ngāti Tuwharetoa ki Kawerau
  • Ngāti Rangitihi
  • Ngāti Ranginui
  • Tapuika
  • Ngai Te Rangi
  • Te Arawa

Waiho i te toi poto, kaua i te toiroa

Let us keep close together, not far apart

black and brown stones on black surface