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Native flora database unveiled at Ngā Rongoā Rākau forum

POSTED: 15 June 2018

Ngā Rongoā Rākau forum organising team with Victoria Business School participants
Ngā Rongoā Rākau forum organising team with Victoria Business School participants (L-R): Autumn McNeill (Tuia), Dr Jesse Pirini (VBS), Prof Ian Williamson (Dean of VBS), Holden Hohaia (Landcare), Dr Riri Ellis (VBS), Amanda Clark (Tuia) and Alan Groves (Tuia).

An impressive multi-disciplinary group of presenters attracted participants from Auckland to Invercargill for a day-long Ngā Rongoā Rākau forum during April, organised by Tuia Innovation at Victoria University’s Rutherford House.

This forum was the culmination of an 18-month Vision Mātauranga-funded research project, a major accomplishment for Tuia Innovation that resulted in an expansive database of scientific literature, research outputs, and analytical data on Aotearoa’s native flora.

We felt it was important to bring these strands of information together in one place in order to give Māori organisations and entities an understanding of the full extent of scientific knowledge in the public domain about our native flora.

The collation of published research also revealed emerging areas of interest by scientists researching flora for leads on new product and drug developments.

Until now this information has been closely held by publicly-funded research organisations, often with access limited or controlled, although no sector has what could be regarded as a comprehensive or well-maintained set of data.

For this Māori-good project, Tuia Innovation recruited the talented Amanda Clark as lead researcher and architect of the database. A summary of the research findings was presented by Amanda and Alan Groves at this well-attended event, which was co-hosted by Victoria Business School’s Dr Riri Ellis.

We also unveiled the database and put forward a proposal for the establishment of Ngā Rongoā Rākau Foundation, a charitable trust which is being set up to manage, maintain, and enhance the database.

The objectives of the Trust are to make it of use to Māori groups/entities wanting to develop specialist knowledge, competence and capability in relation to native flora germination, cultivation and propagation purposes; to support native forest restoration or land conversion programmes; for bio-remediation purposes; or to pursue Natural Product developments.

Other presenters on the day included leading botanist Noel Porter, Bio-protection Research Centre Director Travis Glare, Ngāi Tahu flora expert Rob Tipa, and Waikato University’s Dr Maui Hudson.

Panel discussion at Ngā Rongoā Rākau
Panel line-up of Kiri Dell (Auckland University), Mark Ross (CNI) and Hone McGregor (Wakatu Inc).
Dr Maui Hudson (Waikato University)  speaking at Ngā Rongoā Rākau forum
Dr Maui Hudson (Waikato University) backgrounds his research into plant genomics.


Dr Jesse Pirini (left) and Rau Kirikiri at Ngā Rongoā Rākau forum
Dr Jesse Pirini (left) and Rau Kirikiri.


Dr Jesse Pirini with Rau Kirikiri at Ngā Rongoā Rākau forum
Ngāi Tahu native flora expert Rob Tipa.



Ngā Rongoā Rākau forum

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