debtfreshwater crayfish have Lived in New Zealand for millions of years. They have black, hard, and mottled shells that allow them to blend into logs and mud to protect themselves from predators. At night, crustaceans forage for food, finding and chopping up fish, ephemera, plants and snails with their powerful pincers. They are known as koulas here. It is the name given by the Maori, the indigenous Polynesians who first arrived in New Zealand in the 1300s and now make up over 15% of his population in the country.
For the Maori, crayfish are important both economically and culturally as a delicacy and part of a traditional value called mahinga kai. Mahinga Kai supports the importance of natural foods, their ecosystems, and the practices that collect and maintain them.
Today, cormorant populations are declining and are considered endangered due to habitat loss, overfishing and deteriorating water quality. Makarini Rupeng, a Mahinga expert and cultural land management adviser to the Canterbury Regional Government, has seen this decline in the country’s South Island. “I grew up fishing in rivers, lakes, shorelines and oceans,” he said. As a child in the 1970s and his 80s, he learned the traditional practices and their relationship with Mahinga his chi. When I go back to the sea of my childhood, there are hardly any crayfish.
Working with local Maori, researchers at the University of Canterbury embarked on a genetic and genomic study of kora in 2016. The idea was to assess the genetic diversity of crayfish, according to Aisling Rayne, the lead author of the study. Endangered species often live in limited small populations where interbreeding between relatives leads to inbreeding. Highly inbred populations are less resilient to environmental stresses and changes. Understanding the genetic diversity of local crayfish populations could aid future conservation strategies, he said.
Beyond conservation, what makes this study stand out is the inclusion of indigenous knowledge and practices, and the ways in which each individual is involved, from how and where data is collected to how that data is stored and used. Supporting local tribal decisions in the research phase. Spoke with Underdark. Evolutionary ecologist Billy Van Uitregut, a Māori lecturer in environmental studies at Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand, summarizes the approach by repeating the phrase in the title of the study:
Since the early 2000s, New Zealand has incorporated into science a body of knowledge derived from the Maori culture known as the Matauranga Maori. This is part of a broader effort by the government to meet its commitments in the Treaty of Waitangi, an agreement between Maori and British settlers to respect Maori rights. Over the past two decades, there has been an increase in funding and support for research involving and benefiting Maori.
These developments are not without resistance. For example, last year seven of his researchers at the University of Auckland published a letter arguing that while certain forms of indigenous knowledge can be useful, they are not equivalent to empirical science. Such traditional knowledge is “far from what we can define as science per se,” the authors write.
The university has since distanced itself from the researchers’ views in an email to staff, but advocates of indigenous cooperation argue it’s about knowledge integration, not knowledge equivalence. According to Uitregut, Koura’s research was a good example of how the conversation could be rearranged around the fusion of Māori knowledge and modern science.
aAccording to Rain, the initial goal of the study was to assess the benefits and risks of measuring how well a species adapts to its environment. However, Rayne’s Ph.D. supervisor and one of the study’s co-authors, Tammy Steves, suggested a different approach in selecting the species. I was hoping Instead of researchers deciding on a species and then getting involved with the Māori, Laing “realized that the first thing it needed to do was go to the local community”. Confirming the involvement, we identified cora as a species of cultural significance and determined that further research was needed.