In modern food production compliance with food safety standards is vital. Our goal is to be the best in class in everything – compliance, processing, influence on boards. Ngati Porou likes to lead in everything we do. Our processes and procedures to eliminate contamination risks were developed in partnership with New Zealand’s Ministry for Primary Industries.
We are also determined to be best-in-class in terms of fisheries compliance. We do not do business with people found to be in violation of fisheries regulations. Our strong stand on this is vital if we are to speak with authority on matters of resource management and drive changes to protect resources for generations to come.
English translations of kaitiakitanga tend to focus on guardianship, stewardship and custodianship. While part of the concept of kaitiakitanga, these definitions fall short when used as part of a Maori worldview. Like many indigenous cultures Maori view humans as part of a natural and spiritual world which comprises an interdependent whole. As such we have responsibilities to everything, and we don’t see ourselves at the apex of a pyramid where natural resources below us are things to own consume, compete for and crap upon.
Customs of “rahui” prohibited or limited harvest at certain times in certain places in response to the abundance or condition of species. This approach is akin to crop rotation on land, and is a logical way to ensure a constant and steady source of supply.
Kai, a prefix to transitive verbs to form nouns denoting an agent. Tiaki, to guard or keep. To watch for, wait for. Tanga, a suffix. A noun denoting the fact, circumstance time or place of the action may be formed by its addition.
“Kaitiakitanga is the word used by Maori to define conservation customs and traditions, including its purpose and means, through rahui. Kaitiakitanga has been a part of traditional lore since before the time man first roamed the earth. As an example we can look at the children of Rangi and Papa.” (Marsden, 2003, p.71)
One of these children is Tangaroa – god of the sea and all the creatures that live in it. All harvesting of kaimoana – seafood – was attended by rituals that sought to harmonise people with natural systems. This meant harvest would take place when species were in peak condition, taking care not to disturb breeding.
”We have a keen eagerness to participate, part of our strategy is to have active and influential participation in local and national fisheries forums. We are cognisant that Ngati Porou like all Maori have recreational commercial and customary fishing interests that is why we use local knowledge with innovative science as the basis to form our position on fisheries matters”.
Quota and Resources Manager
Ngati Porou Seafoods Group
In terms of indigenous cultures, Maori are blazing new trails. It is quite unique to have a well-established industry where indigenous people have a major influence on decision-making.
“There is a real need to justify our existence in the fishing industry. This is what separates Maori from non-Maori; we do have this deeper connection. We talk about Tangaroa, we talk about Maui who fished up the north Island, and we talk about ancestors who rode in here on the backs of whales. You can’t talk about these things and not align your company to them. It is bloody hard to walk the walk as well as talk the talk. Every day you come across situations where you could cross that line, but at some point there has to be a line you don’t cross. That’s been one of the reasons we want to be so influential on these fisheries forums and why we want our company to be at the leading edge of sustainability issues. It’s like the adage if you don’t vote, don’t complain.”
Ngati Porou Seafoods Group
When we think in terms of kaitiakitanga relationships are a vitally important part of everything we do. As Ngati Porou we strive to develop healthy relationships with everyone and everything.
Some of these relationships – such as our responsibility to 70,000+ Ngati Porou shareholders, inform our every action. As part of our accountability we have to up our game in terms of getting people real-time information about results and forecast results. We also need to share our science, and harmonise with the education system our future innovators and leaders go through.
With the long process of Treaty of Waitangi settlements drawing to a close, it is time to strengthen our relationships with all people who live in our area, whether they are Ngati Porou by whakapapa (ancestry) or not. It is time for a new era where we set aside historical and cultural differences and look to a more happy healthy and harmonious future together. If we succeed in raising our standard of living then everyone who lives here will share in the benefits. Our mission is wider than just the tribe.
We take our relationships within the seafood industry very seriously. We are involved in key industry Sector-based organisations like the Deep water Group and Inshore New Zealand, as well as local sector groups such as the Tairawhiti Rock Lobster Industry Association, and Area 2 Inshore.
We’re influential on the Maori fisheries advocacy body Te Ohu Kaimoana also and our CEO Mark Ngata chairs Trident Systems, which provides high quality fisheries research services in support of effective and efficient management of New Zealand fisheries. Mark was also chairman of the Maori Fisheries “11 year Review Committee”, which studied the performance of Te Ohu Kaimoana, Te Putea Whakatupu, Te Wai Maori and Aotearoa Fisheries Limited. Out of this process came a series of recommendations of changes needed to secure the future of Maori Fisheries
Because we invest time in nurturing these relationships we are able to share our kaitiakitanga worldview and help weave it through industry thinking and decision-making; not as a barrier, but as a guide to better outcomes.
Until the Maori Fisheries Settlement in 2004, Maori weren’t even invited to be a part of these forums. Participation in all these groups gives us leverage. People are starting to take notice of what Maori have to say, and that’s why we make the time to be on all these groups and build these relationships.
“We’re not afraid to say what we are going to do or not do. We state our position, we’re resilient and we never give up. We want to be at the forefront of changing fishing practices, not just here, but nationally also – you can't bring about change if you’re outside the tent.”
Ngati Porou Seafoods Group