Mātauranga Māori lets communities tap into indigenous wisdom, observations, and sustainable practices developed and refined by Māori over centuries.
Central to Mātauranga Māori is an emphasis on working harmoniously with nature instead of trying to dominate or control it. Traditional practices, rooted in an understanding of natural landforms and waterways, can inform flood mitigation strategies.
Māori knowledge recognises the natural flow patterns of rivers and respects ecosystems' ability to absorb water, giving valuable insights into sustainable approaches for managing floodwaters. Examples include re-establishing wetlands and protecting riparian vegetation, which enhance water retention and minimise the impacts of flooding.
There’s plenty of examples of Mātauranga Māori in this context. A project is underway in Gisborne to enhance urban stream networks that drain into the Tūranganui estuary. It's using Mātauranga Māori and modern science to help restore the health of the culturally significant estuary system. By the end of the project in June 2026, around 170,000 native plants will have been used in wetland and riparian planting.
The reimagining of Southland's Mataura River system combines modern catchment science with Mātauranga Māori to foster cultural, environmental, and economic resilience within the catchment. And in rain-lashed Northland, Māori Councillors at Northland Regional Council are making sure Mātauranga Māori and te taiao (nature) are considered in decisions around flood relief efforts.