Rangi-te-ao-re-re Raki with kiwi
Image: Sabine Bernert ©


This fund supports hapū and iwi to retain and promote traditional Māori knowledge and its use in biodiversity management.


The Mātauranga Kura Taiao Fund recognises that conservation is more than just looking after, preservation and restoration of the land. The fund kaupapa fully affirms spirituality and cultural history are inseparable in Māori conservation and biodiversity initiatives.

When to apply 

Applications to the Mātauranga Kura Taiao Fund are suspended from 1 April and will reopen on 1 July 2018.

We apologise for any inconvenience caused.  Any queries contact Diane Ruru at druru@doc.govt.nz

Who can apply

Individuals and/or organisation representative of a whānau, hapū or iwi with a legal entity can apply, eg marae Komiti, trust or incorporation.

Fund criteria

Applications may cover all ecosystems and species associated with Tāne-Mahuta and the freshwater realm of Tangaroa, which include, but not limited to: whenua, repo, roto, awa, ngahere, manu, ngārara, ika, and rongoā.

Applications for funding will be considered against the following criteria:

  • Applications will be received from and endorsed by an individual and/or organisation representative of a whānau, hapū or iwi with a legal entity. However, applications may be ultimately declined if they do not meet the criteria or priority status.
  • Applications must relate to biodiversity management.
  • Applications must relate to the revival, use or retention of traditional knowledge and practices in the management of biodiversity or natural resources.
  • The application must demonstrate how it will foster transmission and retention of traditional knowledge and practices for the benefit of future generations.
  • The project objectives and outcomes must align with the purpose and criteria for the Mātauranga Kura Taiao Fund.
  • The risk to loss of mātauranga or taonga.
  • Applications that involve working alongside other individuals or groups are encouraged.
  • Consideration is given to projects that are part of a wider programme or initiative of natural resource protection and it is an advantage to have other sources of funding support.

How to apply

Either fill in the online application form or download and mail to one of the addresses below. Make sure you address the fund criteria and have prepared all supporting documentation before submitting your application.

Download the Mātauranga Kura Taiao Fund application pack: (PDF, 297K) or (Word, 1,204K)

Supporting documentation

You also need to include the following documentation:

  • endorsement evidence, eg letter of support from other individuals and/or organisations
  • bank account details
  • deposit slip.

Postal addresses

Mātauranga Kura Taiao
Ngā Whenua Rāhui
PO Box 10420
Wellington 6143

Ngā Whenua Rāhui
18 - 32 Manners Street
Wellington 6011

About the fund

The Mātauranga Kura Taiao Fund was set up to preserve, protect and promote the use of traditional Māori knowledge and practices in biodiversity management. The fund's major aims are to:

  • recognise and uphold the importance of tangata whenua participation in the management of biodiversity consistent with customary knowledge and practices
  • revive and maintain traditional kaitiaki (guardianship) responsibilities which unite the spiritual with the cultural and physical caretaking of natural resources
  • recognise and remedy the under-use and ongoing loss of traditional Māori knowledge and practices which are integral to the management of biodiversity
  • enable Māori to maintain tino rangatiratanga associated with mātauranga biodiversity outcomes; and
  • recognise that mātauranga is the intellectual property of the applicant.

The fund is administered through Ngā Whenua Rāhui, which is governed by a Komiti who meet up to four times a year to consider applications. The Komiti reports directly to the Minister of Conservation.

What is biodiversity?

Biological diversity, or biodiversity, describes the variety of all biological life – plants, animals, fungi and microorganisms – and their relationship to each other. It includes the genes they contain and the ecosystems on land or in water where they live. It is the diversity of life on earth.

Traditionally Māori have a holistic view of the environment and biodiversity derived from a belief system that links people and all living and non-living things. Man shares a common whakapapa with other animals and plants, and is therefore part of nature and biodiversity.

What is Matauranga Maori

Each whānau, hapū, iwi has a basic perspective or set of fundamental beliefs that form the framework of their tikanga. 

Mātauranga Māori is the knowledge that Māori have accumulated over the years they have been part of the whenua. In particular, it's the knowledge that relates to ecosystems and species associated with Tāne-Mahuta and the freshwater of Tangaroa.

The significance of these Māori terms and concepts cannot be directly translated from Māori to English: when the concepts and values of one culture are described, using the language of another culture misinterpretations invariably arise. The properties and characteristics of these concepts also differ from place to place.

Preserving traditional Māori knowledge

Many kaumatua have traditional knowledge related to cultural activities and experiences associated with our native biodiversity. Traditionally the transfer of knowledge had always involved expert individuals, tohunga and wānanga (schools of learning).

Modern influences have seen this system gradually decline and the recording, collection and dissemination of matauranga Māori has increasingly taken other forms. We have also seen the gradual decline in the traditional knowledge being passed on to whānau, hapū and iwi.

A wealth of knowledge has been lost and is in danger of disappearing forever. The Mātauranga Kura Taiao Fund was created to ensure traditional knowledge and practices of Māori are respected and preserved in the management of our biodiversity and natural resources.


Contact the Kaitakawaenga
Phone: 0800 112 771
Email: kaitakawaenga@doc.govt.nz

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