Indigenous and local peoples’ values of estuarine shellfisheries: moving towards holistic-based catchment management

Estuaries support a wide range of human activities and values, but are one of the most anthropogenically impacted ecosystems in the world. Ki uta ki tai is a holistic view of waterways that is embodied within Ngāi Tahu environmental management, which acknowledges the connectivity between environmental systems and people with the environment. While this philosophy is referred to within current policies, management does not effectively account for or reflect this philosophy. This research evaluated indigenous and local socio-cultural values provided by estuarine shellfisheries across Waitaha/Canterbury and found Ngāi Tahu place-based interaction was impacted by management and anthropogenic inputs. Participants’ estuarine stressors aligned with global stressors. Experienced harvesters/fishers adapted their practices to these stressors, while less experienced harvesters/fishers visited high food-risk sites. Effective management requires identifying the risks to socio-cultural values towards accountability of activities, to meet the ethic of ki uta ki tai.