Research Project

Te Tai Uka a Pia

Iwi relationships with the Southern and Antarctic Oceans

According to the tribal narratives of Ngāti Rārua and Te Āti Awa, the first human to travel to the Antarctic was the Polynesian explorer Hui Te Rangiora.

Te Tai Uka a Pia Deep South Challenge

Te Rangiora sits aloft the meeting house Tūrangapeke, at Te Awhina marae in Motueka. He gazes out in his continual search for new lands, and in this way his journey is remembered and honoured. Te Rangiora also adorns the Pou at the entrance to the Riuwaka Resurgence in Kahurangi National Park. At this place, he took rest and prepared himself spiritually and physically for his journey into the Southern Ocean.

This is one recorded version of Māori journeying into the Southern Ocean. But what other stories are held by hapū and iwi – especially those from Te Waipounamu (the South Island) and Rekohu (the Chatham Islands)? How might these stories frame our ongoing relationship with the Antarctic and our responses to climate change?

In this project, we have worked with hapū and iwi from Te Waipounamu and Rekohu to better understand the extent and nature of the relationships Māori had with the Antarctic and Southern Oceans. We have also worked to identify connections between the knowledge of our adaptive tūpuna and the challenges we face in climate change.

Māori are historically underrepresented in research conducted in the Antarctic and the Southern Oceans. It’s therefore important to identify ways to connect mātauranga Māori with climate change science and to bring Māori perspectives into wider discussions about adaptation to climate change. The learning from this work will be used to carry future messages on climate change and climate adaptation to a Māori public.

Synergising tribal narratives with scientific explanations can only enhance community interest in the crucial challenges posed by climate change.

This project in the media: