Adaptation Planning | Farms, whenua & awa
In Aotearoa, the whenua, our awa and the wider natural environment are core to our identity.
Māori in particular maintain ancestral relationships with the living world, and require the authority to protect natural resources appropriately.
Under climate change, each and every one of us has a responsibility to care for the natural environment, so that our taonga species survive and so that we can continue to eat and trade, as well as to enjoy the outdoor environments that are so important to us.
The primary sector is a key part of New Zealand’s economic system. Agriculture, forestry and fishing are all central to our modern economy. These resources will help iwi, industry bodies and growers understand the broad climate impacts facing the primary sector, as well as local adaptations and decision-making tools being tested by leaders in the sector.
Climate change is impacting our freshwater, from droughts to flooding to changing rainfall patterns and warming temperatures. In order to ensure the long-term health of freshwater, and to adapt to these changes, we need to start planning now.
We need healthy drinking water and healthy rivers, but our freshwater is under pressure, both due to demand and through changing patterns of rain and snowfall. In addition, our infrastructure has been built to withstand a known climate system, but the past is no longer a guide to the future.
There are many gaps in our knowledge about how climate change will affect the ecology of our freshwater rivers and lakes. We know, for example, that local estuaries will be affected by rising sea levels and storm surges, pushing salination levels up in local streams. But how will this affect the tuna or whitebait in those streams, the pūhā on the banks and the kids who swim there when algal blooms grow?
The seasons are changing. Native species flower earlier. Fish migrate further south. Shellfish don’t grow as large or as strong. Frost arrives late or not at all. Atua send us small and large messages.
Climate change threatens our taonga species and our traditional sources of kai. But it also provides an opportunity. We have to do things differently. Adaptation solutions can help protect our local environments and also support the Māori economy.
Ahikā are among our best placed to observe and record local environmental changes due to climate change, and are already documenting real-time changes in local food, water and rongoā sources, and behaviours of the land, rivers and forests. Ahikā also hold modern and ancestral knowledge about actions we can take to protect our taonga species.
Good adaptation planning involves monitoring change, and understanding different ways we can use our resources. Explore these resources to learn about some local communities who are doing just this.
Over 200+ years, the Crown has alienated most of the productive land Aotearoa from Māori, through unjust acquisition and confiscation.
Today, around 5% of land in Aotearoa is owned by Māori, often collectively by many people. Most Māori land is now marginal land, and Māori face additional adaptation pressures because of this. Nevertheless, hapū and iwi are among the nation’s biggest adaptation champions, creating long-term land-use plans that consider climate projections as well as environmental and cultural impacts.
Māori research is highlighting ingenious ways to combine tikanga Māori and climate projections, so that on-farm economic modelling can be measured against values such as intergenerational equity.
Māori landowners are also investigating and moving into innovative low-emissions industries, such as hemp, harakeke and medicinal cannabis, and are investing in technology to drive innovations in nutraceuticals, fashion and tourism.
Rural New Zealanders are among the first to experience the most challenging effects of climate change, and farmers and growers are already under pressure from extreme climatic events.
It only takes small changes in temperature, soil, nutrient levels and water supply to affect both homegrown and farm-produced meat, fruit and vegetables. Because our economy is heavily based on food production, we are very exposed to a changing climate.
New Zealand food and fibre producers are used to making tactical adjustments to a variable climate, but the scale of climate change means that long-term strategies across all primary sectors are required urgently.
These resources will help you understand how and where climate change is emerging across Aotearoa and will give you ideas for practical adaptations to impacts like changing seasons, changing rainfall patterns and extreme weather.
Forestry, and particularly native afforestation, is a protective action in the face of climate change.
Soil erosion in areas such as Te Tairāwhiti (the East Coast) is projected to become more extreme under climate change, and planting forests – particularly with indigenous species – is one way to mitigate soil erosion.
Native forestry species (mānuka, kānuka, tōtara, mataī, puriri, harakeke and kawakawa), horticultural options (including honey, olives and olive oil, lemons and hemp) and other medicinal and cosmetic options derived from mātauranga Māori, are possibilities on the East Coast for future land use. They also provide long-term social, economic, environmental and cultural benefits.
Research also suggests that ecosystem services such as erosion control and carbon sequestration should be paid for – providing an additional revenue source for landowners.