Ms Melanie Mark-Shadbolt


Melanie Mark-Shadbolt is of Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa, Ngāti Porou, Te Arawa, Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāti Tuwharetoa, Te Atiawa, Mackintosh and Gunn descent. She is an indigenous environmental sociologist and is currently the Kaihautū Chief Māori Advisor to the Ministry for the Environment, the Director Māori of NZ’s Biological Heritage National Science Challenge, and the CEO of Te Tira Whakamātaki. She is a specialist in traditional knowledge issues as they relate specifically to biosecurity and sustainable natural resource management. Her work has covered research in stakeholder values, attitudes and behaviours, social acceptability of management practices and risk communication, and the wider human dimensions of environmental health. She currently serves on a number of national advisory bodies including the PMCSA’s Plastics Panel, the Myrtle Rust Governance Group, Rauika Mangai and Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga Climate Change Programme.



Indigenous peoples have vast traditional knowledge’s, which have evolved over a millennium, that are relevant to modern environmental management theories and practices. This knowledge has an important role to play in creating contemporary solutions that may address many urgent and ‘wicked’ issues like the threats to global biodiversity associated with climate change and the transportation of invasive species. However, the role of this knowledge in the conservation of our environment has yet to be fully explored and utilised despite it offering significant opportunities for those states and jurisdictions that are prepared to resource indigenous participation in this increasingly important and dynamic area.

Given that all environmental concerns are, in some way, political-economic concerns, sustainability discourse sees a convergence of state, corporate, and community forces as vital in the ongoing revision of environmental management. In Aotearoa New Zealand there is a growing acknowledgement of the opportunities that indigenous knowledge, known as mātauranga Māori, can contribute to environmental solutions. Some of these efforts have been reflected at the policy and strategy levels and is manifested by an increasing number of science research and environmental management collaborations with Māori.

This presentation will discuss the need for the inclusion of indigenous people’s practices, methods and practitioners in modern environmental management work, leaning heavily on the role that mātauranga Māori has played in managing contemporary environmental biosecurity issues here in Aotearoa NZ. The presentation will note the wider issues and resistance surrounding the inclusion or exclusion of indigenous peoples and their knowledge in conservation globally.


Wednesday, 14th August 2019
Māori Biosecurity
1:35 pm

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