Opepe Farm Trust: Maui.Tech case study
An iwi/Māori-led climate change case study, produced as part of the Maui.Tech project
Opepe: Ngā Uru ki Uta
In this video case study from the rohe of Waiariki, participants discuss Opepe Farm Trust's efforts to become a carbon-zero farm, and their commitment to preserving and protecting their land and resources. They share insights about the intersection of Māori cultural values, environmental sustainability, and the challenges posed by climate change.
This video case study was produced as part of the Maui.Tech project. Read more about Maui.Tech.
- Temuera Hall (Tūwharetoa, Te Arawa) – Chair, Opepe Farm Trust
- Ngahere Wall (Ngāti Tutemohuta) – Deputy Chair, Opepe Farm Trust
- Ngatoru Wall (Ngāti Tutemohuta) – Trustee, Tūwharetoa Settlement Trust
Temuera Hall 00:11
We need to understand the source of the values and our whole Māori worldview. It's our point of difference.
Tārei o te ihu o Tamatekapua, ki te urunga o te hoe o Ngātoroirangi, ko Tongariro te maunga, Ko Taupō-nui-a-Tia te moana, ko Ngāti Tūwharetoa te iwi, ko Te Heuheu te tangata. Ko Tauhara te pā tūwatawata, tau pā tāu o te iwi. Ka torotoro ana te wai kowhitiwhiti o Taupō-nui-a-Tia, te marae ātea o te iwi o Ngāti Tūwharetoa, ngā kōrero tuku iho o tātou nei tīpuna, me tērā kōrero, me ērā whakapāpā, mai te taiao, me te Rangi ki te whenua, ā ki tua hoki.
[Fashioned the paddle of Ngātoroirangi in the nose of Tamatekapua, Tongariro is the mountain, Taupō-nui-a-Tia is the lake, Ngāti Tūwharetoa are the people, Te Heuheu is the man. Tauhara is the protecting village where the people settle in comfort. The waters of Taupō-nui-a-Tia dance, the plaza of our people Ngāti Tūwharetoa. The narratives bequeathed by our ancestors, the genealogy, the knowledge of the natural environments from the sky to the land and beyond.]
Trevor Moeke [Narrator] 00:59
Ngāti Tūwharetoa. Home of the the iconic Lake Taupō, and the farms and forests of Māori incorporation, Opepe. Māori business leader and Chair, Temuera Hall, is working with his team to future proof its operations by responding to a range of taiao issues, including climate change.
Temuera Hall 01:22
So Opepe is a product of the Native Land Court, which is the Māori Land Court today. We have over 4800 registered members, and of course they all are shareholders according to that system. But predominantly their whakapapa will be to the six hapū at this end of the lake, what we call the ‘Hikuwai’ [headwaters] of Ngāti Tūwharetoa.
Ngahere Wall 01:45
Opepe as a whenua to us here, as Ngāti Tutemohuta, has a deep significance to us. Ngāti Tutemohuta utilizing that as our winter dwelling, and down here on the on the lake's edge is our summer dwelling.
Ngatoru Wall 02:00
We're mahinga kai people [people who work with, value and protect our natural food resources] you know, we still hold traditional food system knowledges, and within us we still gather kaimoana, koura, inanga, we still use our bush to hunt, still gather watercress, in those food systems that are around our area.
Temuera Hall 02:18
We lease another 600 hectares or so from our other neighboring smaller ahua whenua trusts. There's two dairy units, sheep and beef unit, we've got over 1800 hectares in forestry. We're planting manuka, we're planting native, but primarily sheep and beef and dairy.
Trevor Moeke 02:43
An area famous for its stunning natural beauty. Generations of local hapū have lived and thrived here on the edges of the lake. But after years of regional economic development activities, from farming and forestry to geothermal energy generation, mahinga kai areas are dwindling, along with local streams and tributaries that support life.
Ngahere Wall 03:07
In Tūwharetoa, like, He mana tō te wai [water binds us and has life]. The wai is an integral part of who we are in our roles around kaitiakitanga, and how we protect these resources.
We grew up with water that flowed abundantly that now is less than a meter wide. Now we're seeing our land is getting eaten away. Our waters is not there anymore, there's no more streams that flow. The frogs have left, the whakapapa of the land is gone. You don't hear the call of the birds anymore, from impacts that are due now to what can be labeled as climate change.
Trevor Moeke 03:44
With the whakapapa of the natural world under threat, Opepe has overhauled its operations in recent years to become a certified carbon zero farm. A key focus of their climate resilience strategy is to build self reliant on farm water and energy systems.
Temuera Hall 04:05
I think one thing we learned from the COVID experience first off is that the level of dependencies we have. So if we want to be resilient, which helps support the potential impacts of climate change, we need to look at how we can self contain ourselves. In that sense, a independent energy supplier. Ensure that we've got access to water and to quality water.
One of the risks we have is that the geothermal activity could upset the water table and then we have no water, even though we've got a big lake right beside us. Water capture, energy efficiency, we wish, we're moving to farm towards carbon zero. So we're using the Toitū Envirocare system because, you know, that's sort of known. But the big challenge is the behavior changes required in the staff.
Trevor Moeke 05:01
To drive that behavioral change, Opepe are looking to the teachings of their pūrakau, and values handed down from their tīpuna.
Temuera Hall 05:10
We've made a point of reaching back to te ao tawhito [the world of old]. That knowledge set that existed prior to our arrival to Aotearoa essentially. And we've found our values within within there to drive our policies and our processes and the code of conduct in what we like to see across the farm.
Ngahere Wall 05:29
I believe that we have been upholding our kaitiakitanga value and protecting of the taonga hence the way, it still is. We must endeavor to always look after the resources that we've been gifted, and maintain, you know, the quality that they are, or improve the current states.
Temuera Hall 05:46
We got to be continually looking forward and driving what the future looks for us based off of our values, and not continually get pulled into a government policy or government regulation.
Trevor Moeke 05:58
Opepe, like other Māori incorporations want to see more bespoke legislation to incentivize and fuel the Māori economies transition to a prosperous future.
Temuera Hall 06:12
The value of our carbon credits is getting up close to the initial value of the land when it first got transferred upon settlement. And getting some reward for the fact that we're not the polluters, we've never been the polluters.
For us, it's probably still about understanding the voluntary carbon credit market.
Once that opens up and becomes regulated and accepted, well, that's a space where we can easily develop in, just through changing up our footprint, planting more trees. Then we can get to what we really want to do which is native, as opposed to always looking towards the pine tree, which is the sort of standard now for the NZU.
Ngahere Wall 07:01
As time is evolving and the country is moving to decarbonize, those charged with the kaitiaki role over it, what are they going to be doing to improve sustainable practices. Ko mate te whenua, ko mate tatou [if the land perishes, so do the people], so therefore we have to play our part to ensure that it's well maintained and looked after.