The Otago Polytechnic symposium on Thursday 3 December 2020 showcased Māori research on a wide range of issues concerned with human and environmental wellbeing. 

Theme: Kaitiakitaka: Te Tai Ao and Te Ao Hurihuri | Guardian Protectors of Our Environment and Ever Changing World

The objectives of this Symposium were to: 

  • nurture research conduced by Māori staff and students - that is, research undertaken by Māori, for Māori, or with Māori 
  • provide opportunities to share Māori research fields and expertise 
  • showcase and celebrate the depth and breadth of Māori-led or Māori-partnered research conducted at Otago Polytechnic and across Aotearoa. 

This is the third Māori symposium hosted by the Polytechnic, following on from the inaugral Tā Moko Symposium held in 2014 and Mauri Ora Symposium held in 2018. 

The Kaitiakitaka theme includes: 

  • Te Tai Ao - Environment 
  • Te Tiriti o Waitangi - Treaty of Waitangi 
  • Te Hurihuri o Te Ao - Our Changing World 

Kaitiakitaka has been described as guardianship, stewardship or custodianship. The various meanings of ‘tiaki’ centre around the notion of guarding, protecting and conserving, therefore a ‘kaitiaki’ is someone who guards, protects or conserves. The addition of the suffix –‘taka’ (the Kāi Tahu dialectal equivalent of ‘-tanga’) changes the verb into an abstract noun, and so ‘kaitiakitaka’ is the concept of guardianship, protection and conservation that is threaded through Māori social, cultural, economic and spiritual systems that were established through iwi and hapū association with their environments. In contemporary times, kaitiakitaka can relate to the notion of sustainability, protecting that which we regard as ‘taoka’ (that which we treasure and hold dear to us).


8.30am  Mihi whakatau
9.00am Registrations
9.30am MC: Rāniera Dallas

  • Opening address: Dr Megan Gibbons (CEO, Otago Polytechnic Limited)
  • Keynote speaker: Associate Professor Carla Houkamau


IMG 8146

Associate Professor Carla Houkamau 
Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāi Tahu

Carla Houkamau is an Associate Professor in the Department of Management and International Business and the Associate Dean Maori at Auckland University Business School. Carla currently leads the most extensive longitudinal study of Māori identity, financial attitudes and behaviour (Te Rangahau o Te Tuakiri Māori me Ngā Waiaro ā-Pūtea | The Māori Identity and Financial Attitudes Study) for which she received a Marsden Award in 2015. You can find out more about Carla's collaborative research programme here.


Poster presentation (available all day)

  • Mia Morgan and Tapuwa Marapara: The Application of the Cultural Health Index (CHI) and the use of scientific data to assess the quality of three fresh water bodies

20 minute oral presentations

Stream Tahi (in The Hub) - Chair, Kelli Te Maihāroa

Stream Rua (in G201) - Chair, Ron Bull

Stream Toru (in G204) - Chair, Rachel Dibble

Stream Whā (in G323) - Chair, James Sutherland

12noon Lunch break (The Hub) - Hāngī


15/20 minute oral presentations

Stream Tahi (in The Hub) - Chair, Kelli Te Maihāroa

Stream Rua (in G201) - Chair, Ron Bull

Stream Toru (in G204) - Chair, Rachel Dibble

Stream Whā (in G323) - Chair, James Sutherland

2.00pm Keynote speaker: Dr Eruera Tarena

TK70 Eru

Dr Eruera Tarena 
Ngāi Tahu (Ngāi Tūāhuriri) 

Eruera is Executive Director for Tokona te Raki: Māori Futures Collective, a Ngāi Tahu-led futures lab to empower rangatahi to realise the future of their dreams and influence partners to transform how they engage rangatahi and their whānau. The lab shares future focused insights so rangatahi can determine their own future, equip them with the tools to lead change and connects them with partners so they are designing systems that work for them.

Currently Eruera is involved in a range of data projects mapping our current education systems performance for Māori (mapping barriers/boosters), mapping rangatahi journeys through education/employment and a range of projects focused on the future of work for Māori and preparing for the transition to a future skills-based economy. A key part of this work is training a cohort of rangatahi future makers to lead the transformation and designing from the future.

Eruera is also a Ministerial appointee to Te Taumata Aronui and Te Māngai Pāho.  

3.00pm Mihi haere and koha haere


A videorecording of the speakers in the Hub is available, i.e. for the keynote speakers, and speakers in Stream Tahi. (Note: the sound recording only begins at the 24 minute mark.)

play video