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Ko Wai Mātou | About Us

We are the watchful ones

We are an Indigenous, Māori environmental not-for-profit based in Te Waipounamu (the South Island) of Aotearoa New Zealand.


Our name, Te Tira Whakamātaki, translates to “the watchful ones”, a name gifted to us by Kaumatua Kevin Prime. 

With Te Ao Māori at the heart of our work, we aim to ensure Māori communities have access to information, advice and training that supports and enhances their environmental aspirations.


Our Rohe

Aotearoa New Zealand
Our rohe is all of te taiao.

We don’t represent mana whenua.

We work alongside our whānau to protect

all of Aotearoa New Zealand’s flora and fauna,

both terrestrial and acquatic.

We also work offshore with our Indigenous brothers and sisters

to protect the air we all breathe,

the water that quenches our thirsts and

the soils that sustain our wellbeing.

We work to protect Papatūānuku and build a better world.


"Working with knowledge holders and using mātauranga to protect Papatūānuku and all that live with her is a privilege, one I hope we can share with our communities through our research and education"

Melanie Mark-Shadbolt, Co-founder

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We protect what is important to us

Our work is grounded in Te Ao Māori, and guided by our values








Our Journey


Testing of a Māori 

biosecurity network

In 2015 Māori scientists Dr Amanda Black (soil scientist), Dr Nick Waipara (plant pathologist) and Melanie Mark-Shadbolt (social scientist) came together to test the need for a Māori Biosecurity Network. Supported by funding from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, via a Vision Mātauranga Connect Fund, they travelled the country talking to whānau, hapū and iwi about the lack of Māori participants in the biosecurity system and the exclusion of mātauranga from biosecurity solutions. 


The network grows

In 2016 the Māori Biosecurity Network was informally established to connect Māori communities working to protect Aotearoa’s biological resources from biosecurity risks and threats, like the potentially devastating plant disease myrtle rust. Initially an informal coalition of the willing, biosecurity information and research was shared with Māori communities and entities across the country. 


Te Tira Whakamātaki is established & myrtle rust enters Aotearoa

In April 2017 the Māori Biosecurity Network was officially formed and gifted the name Te Tira Whakamātaki, the watchful ones, by Matua Kevin Prime and Dr Jamie Ataria. In May 2017 myrtle rust hit the shores of Aotearoa New Zealand, and because of the pre-emptive work Te Tira Whakamātaki had done across the country, the network was catapulted into the national limelight as it worked to support hapū/iwi respond and organised training for Māori environmental technicians. By August 2017 the National Iwi Chairs Forum, a collective of 70+ iwi entities, had mandated Te Tira Whakamātaki as their biosecurity technicians, sponsored by Te Rarawa Chair Haami Piripi. 

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Te Tira Whakamātaki expands and becomes a charity

Te Tira Whakamātaki Limited (the Company) was formed in 2018, and in 2019 Te Tira Whakamātaki Foundation was created, it obtained charitable status, took control of the Company, and expanded the organisations brief to cover the protection of all of Aotearoa New Zealand’s taonga species and natural heritage. 

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