24 Mar 2019

A panel discussion on the role of science and traditional knowledge in caring for the Pacific Ocean

From ST at the Auckland Museum
Vaka Moana on its voyage to Hawaii, Auckland and Tahiti in 2011.

Vaka Moana on its voyage to Hawaii, Auckland and Tahiti in 2011. Photo: Okeanos Foundation / Rui Camilo

This discussion on Pacific Oceanscapes – lost, found and sustained – brings together four experts on how humankind is affecting marine environments. They explore what an international coordinated effort to protect the ocean looks like, and how working together can involve the fusion of traditional knowledge and more conventional scientific discovery.

Their discussion traverses how threats to our marine environment can be solved by collaboration, and the importance of finding new ways to involve all Pacific Ocean dwellers with our moana (ocean).

About the participants

Moderator: Mihingarangi Forbes

Mihingarangi Forbes walks in two worlds. She’s a fair-skinned Māori from Hauraki and Waikato iwi on one side, and her mother’s family enjoys a long suffragette history. In her 20 years of journalism she has worked for television and radio. An award-winning investigative journalist and as a current affairs presenter, she is an accomplished facilitator of debates and events.

Robert Richmond

Dr. Bob Richmond is a Research Professor and Director of the University of Hawaii’s Kewalo Marine Laboratory.

He received a Ph.D. in Biological Sciences from the Dept. of Ecology and Evolution, SUNY at Stony Brook, and subsequently spent two years as a postdoctoral fellow at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama, 18 years on the faculty of the University of Guam Marine Laboratory, and has been a Research Professor at the Pacific Biosciences Research Center,University of Hawaii at Manoa, since 2004. He has spent his career studying coral reef ecosystems in the Caribbean and the Pacific, including the Virgin Islands, the Grenadines, the Galapagos Islands, Hawaii, Japan and Micronesia.

He has served as President of the International Society for Reef Studies, the convener for the 13th International Coral Reef Symposium, the Science Advisor to the All-Islands Committee of the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force and a science advisor for the Joint Ocean Commission Initiative. He is both an Aldo Leopold Fellow in Environmental Leadership and a Pew Fellow in Marine Conservation. He presently serves as a member of the U.S. National Academies of Science expert committee on Interventions to Increase the Resilience of Coral Reefs.

His research interests include coral reef ecology, marine conservation biology, ecotoxicology, bridging science to management and policy, and the integration of traditional ecological knowledge with modern approaches to resource use and protection. His childhood fascination with “Dr. Doolittle” helped inspire his approach to studying coral reefs by “listening” to corals and other reef creatures through the use of ecological indicators and molecular biomarkers.

Sheridan Waitai, Ngāti Kuri

Sheridan Waitai is of Ngāti Kuri decent. She grew up in Te Hiku o te Ika and has led and contributed to Environmental, Social, Education and Health initiatives. She has a good understanding of legislation and the policy environment in relation to indigenous issues. She is the lead for her iwi for the WAI262 Fauna and Flora Claim, Rangitahua (Kermadec Island) proposed Sanctuary and coordinates a range of relationships and partners globally to achieve shared prosperity, community resilience and mana motuhake for Ngāti Kuri.

Sheridan has become a resource person to a number of people and initiatives across the country and has inherited her late grandmother Saana Waitai-Murray’s passion for the welfare of Ngāti Kuri, Whenua and Whakapapa. She has participated in a number of boards and has experience in the management of forums, governance and strategy groups.

Richelle Kahui-McConnell, Director, Mealofa Ltd

Richelle Kahui-McConnell is a Kaiwhakaora Whenua (Earth Healer and Environmental and Social Capital Broker) with a vocation pathway of protecting and restoring the mauri (life force) of the Papatuanuku (earth mother) and Hinemoana (Goddess of the Sea) by empowering whanau, hapu and wider community social capital. She has conviction of using her skills to connect whanau and community with the environment which is implemented through a diverse range of work within policy, strategy, engagement and innovative ground breaking ecological restoration outcomes. She believes the greatest outcome is to empower individuals to connect with kaitiakitanga (guardianship) and Te Taio (the environment) by supporting the development of all forms of transference of mātauranga (traditional ecological knowledge) and local ecological knowledge.

Tumanako Ngawhika Fa'aui

Tumanako Fa`aui is a lecturer in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at The University of Auckland, New Zealand.

He is interested in the integration of indigenous knowledge systems and mātauranga Māori within western based methodologies. He is also interested in the engineering decision making process best applied within indigenous contexts. More specifically, his doctoral work examined the impacts of the Rena oil spill of 2011 in The Bay of Plenty, New Zealand.

Tumanako has a vested interest in this research, having ancestral links to the impacted indigenous groups/tribes within the affected region (Ngāti Whakahemo). His other Iwi affiliations: Ngāti Uenukukopako, Ngāti Te Roro o te Rangi, Te Arawa.

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Photo: Auckland Museum

This programme was recorded in partnership with Auckland Museum