On Sunday, 22 September, in a hui-a-iwi in our tupuna whare, Tawakeheimoa, Ngāti Rangiwewehi endorsed the final outcomes of a two year long project known as Kaitiaki flows and baseflow-dominated stream systems – or Kaitiaki Flows as it is known to the iwi.

Kaitiaki Flows is the first of its kind- a ground breaking project that combined both western science with mātauranga Māori to create a water flow parameter that recognises the intrinsic value of Ngāti Rangiwewehi awa and puna.  It is a continuation of Ka Tū te Taniwha, Ka ora Te Tangata – a collaborative project undertaken in 2014 and a testament to the strong relationship between Ngāti Rangiwewehi and GNS Science.  

Kaitiaki Flows was made possible in 2017, when GNS Science, with support from Ngāti Rangiwewehi, was successful in an application to MBIE’s Vision Mātauranga Capability Fund to undertake the Kaitiaki Flows project. 

The term ‘Kaitiaki Flow’ was originally coined to define the flow that is required by a waterway in order to retain and protect its health and wellbeing, and that of the various life forms that that awa sustains.  The project identified additional sustainability parameters when using and allocating water and created a suitable method of recognizing our precious water resource as a taonga- tuku-iho that must be protected, while also providing for social and economic use and development by and for Ngāti Rangiwewehi.  

Critically for our community, Ngāti Rangiwewehi were able to utilise Kaitiaki Flow as an alternative ‘instream flow model’ as part of the Joint Resource Consent application, between Te Puna o Pekehaua Puna Reserve Trust and Rotorua Lakes Council for the taking of water from the Taniwha Spring for municipal water supply (Ngongotaha Municipal Water Supply). 

Te Maru o Ngāti Rangiwewehi Chair, Joseph Tuhakaraina acknowledged the importance of being able to identify the kaitiaki flow, not only for the benefit of Ngāti Rangiwewehi, but nationwide.

“The iwi would like to see the Kaitiaki Flows model utilised as a tool for protecting the health and waterways across the country – so that all iwi can ensure the Kaitiaki Flow in their waterways is protected above all else’.

Project Lead, Gina Mohi says that the Kaitiaki Flow model is a practical expression of “Te Mana o te Wai” the National Freshwater policy framework: “In considering allocation of our taonga it’s important that as iwi we respect that the first right to the water goes to the water – this is true kaitiakitanga in practise’.

Ngāti Rangiwewehi would like to acknowledge the work of the team Paul White and his team from GNS Science, Lee-Anne Bidois (Project Manager), Anaru Bidois (Kaumatua) Kerri Anne Hancock (Responsible Trustee) and Gina Mohi (Project Lead), alongside many iwi members who have contributed towards the ‘Iwi Water Strategy’ over a number of years, culminating in the creation and completion of this project.

A number of papers and reports have been published by both Ngāti Rangiwewehi and GNS team researchers as an outcome of the project.  We look forward to continuing our relationships with GNS, RLC and other iwi beyond the project with a view to sharing our learnings nationwide.

Gina Mohi was recognised for her work in the Kaitiaki Flows Project in the recent Women of Influence Awards, winning the Rural category for 2019.

Any enquiries from iwi who wish to understand more about how the Kaitiaki flows and baseflow-dominated stream systems project can be applied in their rohe are invited to submit any queries to taiao@rangiwewehi.com.


Photo: Awahou Stream, kids on the bridge, March 2018.  Photo credit Heather Martindale, GNS Science