Topic: Environment

Future proofing surf breaks in Aotearoa

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes
  • North Island: East Coast

Surfer and researcher Dr JordanTe Aramoana Waiti says surf breaks in Aotearoa are increasingly at risk due to coastal development activities, and that iwi have a role to play in their protection.

Dr Waiti says it’s about, “Living lightly on our whenua, and within our moana so that it's around for our future generations in the same state that we've been able to experience it.”

One keen local surfer says, “It's definitely important because we all grew up with this break we don't want to see sort of breaks like this taken away.”

Dr Waiti is part of a three-year research project that provides management guidelines for the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement 2010 (NZCPS).

He says, “Māori were surfing pre-European arrival, we were surfing on canoes, planks of wood, using kelp as well, and amongst a lot of iwi throughout the motu there's narratives or kōrero that document this.”

Funded by The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, the project looks at seven breaks around Aotearoa and informs the responsibilities of resource users and applicants where activities are likely to affect surf breaks.

Dr Terry Hume says, “Somebody might be going to extract sand for building materials or something like that, and the councils have to think is that going to affect the break and if it is, what conditions can they put on the consents that they give for those developments or resource use.”

The project encourages local iwi to contribute to the protection of surf breaks as kaitiaki (guardians) and as traditional resource custodians.

Dr Waiti looked at socio-cultural factors among Māori and the relationship to the surf breaks.

“Acknowledging our ancestors who resided in those areas, it gives us a sense of belonging that probably non-Indigenous surfers have when they're surfing these surf breaks around our motu,” says Dr Waiti.

The Management Guidelines for surfing resources are available online and findings will be published in the Journal of Coastal Research.