Knowledge into Action for Te Taiao

Te Taiao is the natural world that contains and surrounds us — the land, water, climate and living beings. It refers to the interconnection of people and nature. Ko au Te Taiao, ko Te Taiao ko au (I am nature, and nature is me). It’s an eternal relationship of respect, reciprocity and interdependence.

Te Taiao graphic

Food producers all over the world are facing connected challenges:

The health of soil and water, climate change, and changing customer expectations. We can respond to these challenges in a uniquely Aotearoa way by implementing Te Tiriti o Waitangi principles in all efforts to help revitalise Te Taiao – the land, water, climate, and biodiversity that contains and surrounds us all.

Knowledge into Action for Te Taiao

WAI Wānaka are one of three organisations who have received funding from Our Land and Water’s National Science Challenge for a place based pilot project to ‘Revitalise Te Taiao’.

The ‘Knowledge into Action for Te Taiao’ pilot aims to acknowledge and uphold Te Tiriti o Waitangi principles of partnership, participation and protection.

Our goal is to work collectively with farmers, researchers, growers, industry groups and our community and hope to forge relationships with Tangata Whenua Hapū and Iwi of Kāi Tahu. The aim is to inform future land use and management changes to increase the vitality of Te Taiao.

The project will assist farmers and growers to respond to pressures such as freshwater quality, soil health, pests, climate change and shifting consumer demand through identifying opportunities to farm in alignment with nature.

Two people planting natives to revitalise te Taiao

Knowledge into Action for Te Taiao is underpinned by two complementary knowledge-based pou:

Our People, Our Place

Understanding the history of the land from a Tangata Whenua and Tangata Tiriti point of view, to support a fuller understanding of Te Taiao.

Transforming Scapes

Interweaving past, present and future knowledges to expand traditional farm plans beyond tools of regulation and enhance the vitality of Te Taiao.

Gloved hand and Mānuka flowers

Land Use Diversification and Market Opportunities Project

WAI Wānaka are investigating land use and market opportunities in the Upper Clutha Catchment. The focus is on positive outcomes for the environment and financial sustainability. Working with a mix of farmers, managers and small landholders, we developed a criterion for assessing land use options and are currently undertaking deep dive studies on 4 of the most popular enterprises.

Group of people learning about biodiversity monitoring

NZ Farm Assurance Programme Plus

The New Zealand Farm Assurance Programme Plus (NZFAP+) is a system for building better and more resilient farm businesses. It provides a framework for clear decision making on your farm’s natural resources and encourages farmers on the journey of continuous improvement whilst revitalising Te Taiao. The team at WAI Wānaka are here to support farmers through the NZFAP+ accreditation.

Aerial image of Upper Clutha lakes

Catchment Health Monitoring

This is a community-led initiative to monitor the long-term impact of community efforts and guide environmental investment in the future. WAI Wānaka, working with EAS (Environmental Accounting Services) and the local community, have developed an annual report on the ‘State of Catchment Health’ across key environmental and social indicators.

person on a tree branch in the Matukituki valley

Upper Clutha Native Biodiversity Strategy

What might native biodiversity look like in the Upper Clutha Catchment in 100 years? This strategy sets out a future where native biodiversity helps define who we are, what we do and where we enjoy ourselves.

WAI Wanaka Biodiversity & Freshwater Monitoring 

Biodiversity & Freshwater Monitoring 

Biodiversity and freshwater monitoring helps landowners track changes over time to make decisions based on data to protect and improve biodiversity within their farm systems. WAI Wānaka have developed a monitoring package to assist landowners to collect and collate this information.

Tech Te Taiao mesh

Tech Te Taiao

For us to take more impactful positive environmental action, we need reliable, real time data on which to base our decisions. Appropriate technologies are required to access the depth, breadth and quality of data for this to ultimately inform a programme of work that continually improves these actions.

Physiographic spatial map of the Upper Clutha catchment


Physiography refers to the study of physical features of the earth’s surface. The goal is to identify areas at risk, areas for resilience building, and opportunities for land use diversification. This information will guide farmers to make informed decisions about land use and management practices.

people in a field assessing the environment

Catchment Groups

There are many environmental demands on rural landowners and farmers that are more easily understood and tackled as a group. WAI Wānaka have facilitated the establishment of 6 of the 7 main catchment groups, 4 small landholder groups and a range of urban action groups in the Upper Clutha Catchment.

How will this project benefit the Upper Clutha?

  • Identify potential land use and market options for businesses or landowners in the catchment to generate additional value.
  • Create pathways for farm/business succession for your family.
  • Connect with likeminded farmers and develop opportunities.
  • Work with and learn from a range of experts.
  • Environmental and Te Taiao focus – investigate land uses that will create positive outcomes to the environment and to enhance Te Taiao.

Group of people meeting at a hui

Knowledge into Action for Te Taiao is funded by Our Land and Water through AgResearch.

Click here to view updates and more information about the Revitalise Te Taiao project.