Blue Economy Aotearoa

Project purpose: In the face of climate change, peak oil and food insecurity Māori land trusts face serious challenges to retain and economically develop Māori land. Traditional operations of sheep, beef, dairying and forestry may not be as profitable in the future or fit a world that seeks to reduce carbon emissions and use greener technology. Some Māori land trusts are re-shaping themselves for a green economy, using renewable energy, growing biofuels and ensuring they have sustainable operations.

But some groups argue that the green economy does not go far enough and argue for the fostering of a blue economy. The Blue Economy is an international community of companies, innovators and scientists, providing open source access to develop, implement and share prosperous business models that strive to improve natural ecosystems and the quality of life for all. www.BlueEconomy.De

The Blue Economy Aotearoa project asks how Māori land trusts might use elements of the Blue Economy to unleash the creative potential of Māori people, Māori land and Aotearoa’s natural ecosystems. How can production and consumption in Aotearoa be redesigned to use natural ecosystems for economic optimisation? In order to answer these questions this project takes a case study approach and will examine how the operations of a particular Māori land trust might fit with the Blue Economy.

The case study: Te Paiaka Lands Trust is a Whenua Topu Trust which manages Māori Land belonging to descendants of Paiaka, a Ngāti Kea/Ngāti Tuara hapū of Te Arawa. Te Paiaka lands extend from Rotorua southward to Horohoro mountain. Te Paiaka Trust is already investigating green development possibilities including minimising carbon emissions and exploring renewable energy options. In addition, the philosophy behind using a Whenua Topu governance model has been to encourage a shift of thinking away from considering the Trust and accompanying lands as simply about money generation for named beneficiaries, to an entity that incorporates the social, political environmental and economic aspirations of the hapū. Te Paiaka aims to sustainably control their lands. As part of this sustainability the Trust is looking to move away from traditional sources of income (sheep and beef units) and to creatively explore options which will more adequately foster self reliance and the social, political and economic sustainability of the hapū.

The programme of work to be carried out : The student will complete a study on how the Blue Economy could work in a specific Aotearoa location. The study will involve the intern:

  1. Researching The Blue Economy; applicability for Māori Land Trusts generally; and applicability for Te Paiaka Trust specifically.
  2. Familiarising themselves with the nature of Te Paiaka lands (through web based research and informal discussions with Paiaka Trust Dr Bargh in the first instance and Deputy Chair Bill Young, and/or other Trustees). The Trust has been consulted and is keen for this research topic to be explored and for Dr Bargh to liaise, on behalf of the Trust in the first instance, with an intern. No interviews will be conducted for this project.

Day to day nature of the work

  1. The student will need to conduct research, analyse the data and write a report of approximately 8,000 words
  2. The intern will also use parts of their research material to contribute to a co-authored academic journal article with Dr Bargh.

Skills the student will learn

  1. Critical thinking by working independently and bringing together and analysing information from a range of sources and disciplines
  2. Creative thinking by considering research options and theoretical combinations which may not usually be considered, as well as considering how to present ideas in creative ways
  3. Leadership by appreciating the ethical issues and different roles pertinent to working in a team
  4. Communication skills: conveying information that is easily understandable for academic and non-academic audiences
  5. Engaging with Māori stakeholders beyond Victoria University.