Creating interactive maps of ecological and cultural significance was a key highlight for over 60 participants in a three day digital mapping wananga at Hiruharama Pa near Ruatorea this week.
Utilising Google Earth and other Geographic Information Systems (GIS) platforms and apps, local whanau, rangatahi and staff members of Te Papa Atawhai and the Gisborne District Council visited sites in the area to geo-tag places of significance. A wide range of data and information was collated virtually and in situ including photographs, traditional placenames, historical korero, mahinga kai, water quality and freshwater habitat information, native vegetation, pests/weeds and recreational use.
Duane Wilkins, Mapping Manager of Te Papa Atawhai - Department of Conservation in Wellington was the lead keynote presenter and facilitator for the mapping workshop. Biologist Dr Ian Ruru led sessions focused on the tuna as a sentinel species to support water quality monitoring and the assessment of freshwater habitat. Takerei Norton and Iain Gower skyped in to the wananga to share Ngai Tahu's impressive digital mapping project that has already geo-tagged over 5,000 traditional placenames in Te Waipounamu. Local DOC ranger, Graeme Atkins shared his extensive knowledge of native plants and wetland restoration advice as part of the hikoi on Kahuitara.
"GIS is a powerful and accessible tool for recording and re-presenting matauranga and information that is important to us, supports lifelong learning and our aspirations, needs and responsibilities as kaitiaki" said Pia Pohatu, wananga organiser and project leader of Tieki Te Taiao O Te Takiwa – a three year conservation project for Hikurangi Takiwa Trust. "The ability to collectively build and share maps will support the transmission of matauranga between generations, improve our decision-making and better inform the initiatives we want to lead and get involved with."
Newly appointed East Coast Area Officer for Gisborne District Council Ngarangi Walker also helped organise the wananga after participating in a Google Earth Indigenous Mapping hui in Whakatane last year.
"It is important for organisations like the Council to understand how hapu and local communities want to be involved as decision-makers and the collective approaches required to ensure they are ably represented in RMA and local government processes. Hapu or community created maps are an effective way to portray the values they associate with place/s and inform Council processes to respond appropriately." said Miss Walker.
Digital forms to record details about significant sites were developed during the wananga along with a plan to digitally map the hapu tribal estate over the next three years. Archives of historical value such as survey maps and opportunities to gain further training in GIS were also made available to wananga participants. With half the wananga attendees being under the age of 18 and the oldest aged 84 – the technology, science and matauranga themes provided something for all to learn and contribute to.
Te Runanganui o Ngati Porou board member and NZ Trade and Enterprise advisor Barry Soutar talked about a number of Maori businesses commercialising GIS systems and using digital technologies in global markets to earn millions for the product developers, company owners and the country.
The wananga was supported through koha from wananga participants and the Department of Conservation Community Conservation Partnership Fund.
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