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Protecting mahinga kai values on farm

Date: 01 July 2018
Reporting Frequency: Annually
Category: Freshwater Management


Mahinga kai values are protected, by improving awareness and practices on farm.


28% of surveyed farmers are aware of mahinga kai.

About this goal

A new requirement in Farm Environment Plans is for farmers to identify and understand mahinga kai values and risks on their land. An Environment Canterbury survey of 403 farmers across the region was undertaken in June 2018 to understand levels of comprehension and attitudes about mahinga kai.

Why does it matter?

Mahinga kai is about the value of natural resources – our birds, plants, fish, and other animals and resources that sustain life, including the life of people.

For Ngāi Tahu, it is critical to manage these resources to allow people to continue gathering kai (food) in the way the ancestors did, and about mana and manaakitanga - the ability to welcome and host visitors by providing bountiful produce, as a demonstration of hospitality and respect. These things are the essence of kaitiakitanga, or what many people today call guardianship.

This practice remains a foundation of Ngāi Tahu values today, although it has become increasingly difficult as sites, species, and habitats are lost, degraded, or compromised.

What's being done?

The evidence shows the recent work undertaken in Selwyn Waihora is starting to make an impact, but there is still some way to go.

Plans are now in place to extend the advisory work and information to support farmers from Selwyn to other zones in the region.

Across the region, in areas where Environment Canterbury work is yet to begin, the average level of awareness of mahinga kai was 25%.

In Selwyn Waihora, where Environment Canterbury has been working with farmers to help them meet their mahinga kai requirements, awareness was 39%.

Total sample (403), Kaikōura/Hurunui water zones (95), Selwyn Waihora water zone (98), Ashburton water zone (107), Orari Temuka Opihi Pareora water zone (103). Q7: Before today, have you heard of the Māori concept "mahinga kai"?

Find out more

View more about mahinga kai at

View our Mahinga kai species guide.

More information for farmers.

Find out how ratepayer funding supports this work with our Rates Tool.


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