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.

Four actions are currently underway with more to come over the next few months.

Aerial image of Upper Clutha lakes

Catchment Wide Monitoring

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

  • Communicate qualitative and quantitative data on the state of catchment health and track progress over time.
  • Align monitored indicators to the Community Catchment Plan and sustainable development goals (SDG’s).
  • Develop a central repository for data collection and reporting.
  • Encourage community ownership and responsibility for overall catchment health.
  • Set up a reporting system which is enduring and repeatable.

Group of people learning about biodiversity monitoring

NZ Farm Assurance Plus Framework

The New Zealand Farm Assurance 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. It pulls information and plans together into one space, providing direction to focus efforts on areas that will improve farm businesses and prepare to meet customer expectations in the future whilst revitalising Te Taiao.

The team at WAI Wānaka are here to support farmers through the NZFAP+ accreditation. We do this by running workshops; supplying tools and resources to guide farmers through the process; providing one-on-one support; and through on farm monitoring, e.g. biodiversity monitoring, support and coordination of water sampling and data management.


Arial of the mata-Au river near Wānaka

Spatial Mapping

WAI Wānaka are working with Land and Water Science to collate and analyse data sets and map layers for the Upper Clutha to help build our understanding of the whenua (land) in the Upper Clutha catchment.

This data will guide us in understanding areas in the catchment which:

  • Are susceptible to risk (to the environment or landscape).
  • Can be managed to build resilience.
  • Can create opportunity for the catchment or local farmers (e.g. through land use diversification).

This will guide farmers in making more informed land use and management decisions.


Land Use Diversification and Market Opportunities Project

WAI Wānaka is investigating land use and market opportunities in the Upper Clutha Catchment with a focus on positive outcomes for the environment and financial sustainability. This project is specifically designed for landowners and the community in the Upper Clutha, and suitable to the catchment based on geography, slope, soils, and climate.

It will identify and facilitate pathways that further diversify land use beyond traditional livestock farming. Throughout this project we will be working with a mix of farmers, managers and small landholders to develop a criterion for assessing land use options. Once 4-5 key land use options are identified, we will define what is required to establish a viable value chain and market for these new products or services.

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.