Guidelines for cross‐cultural Participatory Action Research partnerships: A case study of a customary seabird harvest in New Zealand
Moller, Henrik; Lyver, Philip O'B; Bragg, Corey; Newman, Jamie; Clucas, Rosmary; Fletcher, David; Kitson, Jane; McKechnie, Sam; Scott, Darren
Adaptive co‐management and Participatory Action Research (PAR) promotes social ecological resilience by simultaneously protecting wildlife and its habitat and promoting capacity and motivation for sustainable harvest management by communities. We report here on a case study of learning through a partnership (1994–2009) between science and Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) to determine the sustainability of titi (sooty shearwater, Puffinus griseus) harvests by Rakiura Maori in southern New Zealand. Testimony of Maori elders and titi harvesters (birders), members of the Rakiura Titi Islands Administering Body, researchers and participants in workshops and meetings were recorded throughout the 14‐year research project to identify critical determinants of success of the partnership. A large majority of participants supported the research, mainly because it expanded their knowledge by investigating the reasons for declining bird numbers and the means of ensuring the continuation of their muttonbirding heritage. Initial concerns about the research included fear that prohibition or quota would be imposed through political pressure from external groups; the intrusion of strangers on the islands; the misconception that the research was being promulgated by government regulatory agencies; and scepticism about research findings. Research also precipitated conflict and division within the Rakiura community, and some birders feared that science might displace matauranga Maori (TEK) of the Rakiura people for guiding harvest management. Core conditions for community engagement included trust between parties, effective communication of the science, equitable decision‐making responsibility, and building scientific capability and monetary support to enable meaningful participation. The most fundamental requirement is mutual respect for each party's knowledge. Attention to this inclusive, equitable, slow and prolonged process makes it more likely that the community will uptake results to improve sustainability of harvesting. The research has heightened awareness within the harvesting community of conservation issues facing the titi and of potential options to mitigate them. Eradication or control of weka (Gallirallus australis), and reducing titi harvest levels from around a quarter of the manu (family birding territories), are the main practical ways of increasing sustainability, but the magnitude and direction of climate change impacts on the shearwater population remains uncertain.
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Rights Statement: © The Royal Society of New Zealand 2009
Keywords: Traditional ecological knowledge; matauranga; science; Rakiura Maori; muttonbirding; sooty shearwaters; Puffinus griseus
Research Type: Journal Article