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Flavor or Forethought: Tuhoe Traditional Management Strategies for the Conservation of Kereru (Hemiphaga novaeseelandiae novaeseelandiae) in New Zealand

Philip OB. Lyver, Landcare Research
Christopher J Jones, Landcare Research
James Doherty, Tuhoe Tuawhenua Trust

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Abstract

Traditional knowledge from indigenous cultures about wildlife populations can offer insights beneficial for management in the face of global climate change. Semistructured interviews and workshops conducted with Maori elders from the Tuhoe tribe in the Te Urewera region of New Zealand provided knowledge about traditional management strategies for New Zealand pigeon (Hemiphaga novaeseelandiae novaeseelandiae), known locally as kereru, as well as signals of changes in local climate patterns and how these influence kereru. We used a population simulation exercise to demonstrate the feasibility of a harvest management strategy used by the Tuhoe to sustain kereru. Our models also indicated how potential changes in climate and subsequent decisions about harvest timing might affect a theoretical kereru population. Elders identified mana (authority), mauri (essence or life force), tikanga (traditional custom), and ture (societal guidelines), and the use of tohu (signals or markings), tapu (sacredness), muru (social deterrent), and rahui (temporary harvest bans) as key elements and ideologies in the traditional management of kereru. They linked an increased climatic warming trend to delays of three to four months in the fruiting of some trees, such as toromiro (Podocarpus ferrugineus), deemed important for kereru nutrition and body condition. The Tuhoe have traditionally harvested both adult and newly fledged kereru when they are feeding on toromiro fruit, so a three- to four-month delay in fruiting could potentially defer the harvest until the prebreeding period. Our simulation models demonstrated that harvesting kereru adults and fledglings in the postbreeding stage had less impact on population abundance than only harvesting adults only during the prebreeding phase. The model indicated that the Tuhoe would need to re-evaluate their harvest strategy if climate-induced delays in toromiro fruiting were to become more frequent. This study emphasizes how using both science and the full matrix of traditional knowledge can offer wildlife management the better of two world views.

Key words

customary harvest; Mauri; Hemiphaga novaeseelandiae novaeseelandiae; New Zealand; resource management; traditional knowledge; Podocarpus ferrugineus
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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087