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  • Yvonne Taura is a kairangahau Māori, a kaupapa Māori researcher specialising in freshwater science, iwi environmental management and science communication.

    He mihi

    Ko Mauao te maunga
    Ko Tauranga to moana
    Ko Matakana me Rangiwaea ngā moutere
    Ko Mataatua te waka
    Ko Ngāi Te Rangi te iwi
    Ko Ngāi Tūwhiwhia me Ngāi Tauwhao ngā hapū
    Ko Opureora me Rangiwaea ngā marae
    Ko Yvonne Taura tōku ingoa
    Ko Te Ariki tāku tamaiti
    Nō reira, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa

    Rights: Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research

    Yvonne Taura

    Yvonne Taura (Ngāiterangi, Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāti Hauā, Ngāti Uenuku, Ngāti Tūwharetoa) is Kairangahau Māori – Ecology at Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research.

    Yvonne grew up in Melbourne, Australia. Despite being curious about the world around her, she didn’t study science at school because she felt she wasn’t smart enough and wasn’t encouraged to do so by her teachers. However, at age 21, Yvonne returned home to Tūrangi, New Zealand. Here she was surrounded by her whānau and whenua.

    I’m curious; I want to pull things apart, understand how they work and put them back together, question everything, explore in depth.

    Yvonne Taura

    Yvonne’s uncles Te Rangituamātotoru Tamaira and Rakato Te Rangiita both encouraged wāhine of Ngāti Tūwharetoa to participate in environmental matters. They guided and mentored Yvonne to pursue her career in freshwater wetland ecology and to play a role in raising the awareness of freshwater issues.

    I feel honoured to have been supported and encouraged, loved and cared for, and empowered by them both.

    Yvonne Taura

    Journeys of discovery

    With the support of her whānau, Yvonne began a journey to discover her Māoritanga, learning about whakapapa, te reo, kawa and tikanga Māori. Yvonne also completed university study, including Heke Kaitiakitanga Pūtaiao – Diploma in Environmental Management, Te Ahu Taiao – Bachelor of Environmental Studies and an MSc (Hons) in biological sciences. Yvonne is about to submit her PhD on the communication of mātauranga Māori and collaborative science research. She says that weaving mātauranga Māori and science together requires learning about our whenua through the eyes of our tūpuna.

    During my time at whare wānanga, we were lectured by Dr Dan Hikuroa in Earth science, and it was very practical. We were in the field much of the time and the student cohort was very supportive. It was very, very different from a mainstream university setting. I realised I could learn science; I wasn’t stupid after all. The way the wānanga repackaged how science was taught was key for me.

    Yvonne Taura
    Rights: Crown copyright

    Cultural indicators

    Wetland species can act as cultural indicators and as environmental indicators. Their presence – or absence – can tell us about the health of an ecosystem.

    Select here to view video transcript and copyright information.

    Wetland research

    Yvonne’s uncles and the hapū of Ngā Runuku were concerned about their wetlands, so she selected this as her master’s research focus. There were large infestations of grey willows in the southern part of Lake Taupō. The regional council was trying to manage them. However, there was no monitoring in place for these control programmes. Yvonne conducted a study to investigate whether tiny aquatic invertebrates were being impacted by the presence of grey willows and the herbicides used to manage them. She compared the zooplankton populations around willow trees with those around native trees and found no significant effects. Instead, she discovered that the zooplankton were more influenced by prolonged lack of water. The research highlighted the need for tailored approaches in managing wetland areas. When dealing with issues like this, she says that a key question to ask is, “What is the vision of this water body?”

    Te Reo o Te Repo – The Voice of the Wetland

    Yvonne is a co-editor of the cultural wetland handbooks Te Reo o Te Repo – The Voice of the Wetland and Te Reo o Te Repo – Kei Konei Tonu Au: Voice of the Wetland – I Am Still Here. These publications tell the stories of hapū-led wetland restoration and include processes for supporting renewed connections between whānau Māori and their wetlands. To encourage kura to engage in their local wetlands, Yvonne worked alongside the Science Learning Hub and wetland and educational experts to adapt Te Reo o Te Repo – The Voice of the Wetland into teaching and learning resources for kura kaupapa Māori.

    We wanted to support kaiako and tauira Māori to restore and become active kaitiaki of their local repo. We provided science principles to support teacher and student learning.

    Cheri van Schravendijk-Goodman, Yvonne Taura and Dr Beverley Clarkson
    Editors, Te Reo o Te Repo
    Rights: Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research

    Te Reo o Te Repo – The Voice of the Wetland

    Te Reo o Te Repo – The Voice of the Wetland editors Cheri van Schravendijk-Goodman, Yvonne Taura and Dr Beverley Clarkson. The handbook highlights a range of mahi undertaken by iwi and hapū to increase the health and wellbeing of their repo (wetlands).

    Māori food sovereignty

    Māori food sovereignty is the practice of ensuring food-secure futures for whānau. Yvonne is part of a research team contributing to two related projects – Kai Atua: Food for hope and wellbeing and Storying Kaitiakitanga: Exploring kaupapa Māori land and water food stories, which explores the indigenous principle of kaitiakitanga as it relates to Māori agrifood practices. This article considers how the shared kaupapa Māori principles underpinning food practices form part of a wider kaupapa Māori land, water and food systems approach called Kai Ora.

    It’s about our own communities feeding ourselves and others; how do we garden, where do we get our seeds from, heritage seed. It’s very important with the rise in living costs and vulnerabilities from the way our food is grown.

    Yvonne Taura

    Messages for rangatahi

    Yvonne’s advice for budding scientists is to connect with people and organisations in your chosen discipline. If it’s wetland research that you’re interested in, volunteer with staff from research institutes, agencies or community groups engaging in wetland restoration or freshwater science. Don’t be shy to ask loads of questions and reach out to mentors, academics and practitioners who inspire you to continue your work. Most importantly, look for those within your own whānau who can support you emotionally and spiritually.

    I took the plunge and learnt conventional science and became a freshwater ecologist, but most importantly, I draw upon the mātauranga of iwi and hapū, which plays the most crucial role in all of my rangahau.

    Yvonne Taura

    Collaborating with the Science Learning Hub

    As part of her work with Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research, Yvonne collaborated with the Science Learning Hub and Te Kura o Manunui to create educational resources. The resources support Te Tatauranga o ngā Manu Māra o Aotearoa | New Zealand Garden Bird Survey and are designed for Māori-medium classrooms. You can find the introductory article here.

    Related content

    Visit our Te Repo topic. It has articles, activities and media developed in partnership with Yvonne and Te Reo o Te Repo – The Voice of the Wetland.


    This resource has been produced in collaboration with Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research and the New Zealand Garden Bird Survey.

    Rights: Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research

    Manaaki Whenua and New Zealand Garden Bird Survey

    Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research is a Crown research institute. Its core purpose is to drive innovation in the management of terrestrial biodiversity and land resources. One of the national projects it runs is the annual survey of garden birds Te Tatauranga o ngā Manu Māra o Aotearoa | New Zealand Garden Bird Survey. The data collected from citizen scientists helps researchers and practitioners understand how birds are coping with environmental challenges.

      Published 17 June 2024 Referencing Hub articles
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