Customary research funding was initiated as a result of formulating the Customary Fisheries Regulations. To address provisions in the Customary Fisheries Regulations, Maori requested funding to research traditional and oral information related to customary gathering and traditional practices with regard to mahinga mÄtaitai and tauranga ika. The customary research fund is to be available for tangata whenua
who are working towards registering kaitiaki/tangati tiaki under the Kaimoana Customary Regulations 1998
and the South Island Customary Regulations 1999
This is a Crown-funded pool of money targeted at the objectives set out below. This is administered by the Ministry’s Science team.
- To collate information on customary fishing practices of Maori that may need to be considered in making fisheries management decisions;
- To assist Maori to manage and measure the outcomes of customary practice within their rohe moana that adds to their traditional and customary well-being;
- To determine past levels of customary and traditional harvest levels to aid in the clarification of the relationship between current customary and traditional harvest levels and customary/traditional rights; and
- To provide customary fisheries information to enhance and add value to sustainable fisheries management processes.
Projects that have been funded under the customary research round include studies of traditional fishing histories, past take levels, traditional fishing methods, effectiveness of customary management measures, and baseline studies of abundance.
Early each year, a letter is sent out to iwi
calling for research proposals. Proposals must follow a template supplied by the Ministry of Fisheries
to ensure all essential fields are addressed sufficiently. Research providers often receive support for formulating and refining their proposal by Pou Hononga and Pou Takawaenga.
Proposals are submitted to an evaluation panel. This panel includes Ministry of Fisheries representatives, from Fisheries Science and also Te Kahui Pou Hononga, as well as independent Science and Customary advisors. E ach proposal is scored according to set criteria by the evaluation panel. These criteria were introduced in 2007 as a way to ensure all projects undergo a similar level of scrutiny to allow fair and even judgement. Based on their scores against the set criteria, projects are then ranked, with a threshold below which projects will not be considered.
The remaining projects are then prioritised by the Ministry of Fisheries representatives (independent panel members do not participate), and it is decided which projects should, and can be funded. This last prioritisation relates to how well the projects relate to Ministry of Fisheries’ strategic objectives for customary research, as outlined above.
The evaluation panel recommends projects to be funded, which are then put to the Chief Scientist for approval. Approved projects are then undertaken by the initial project applicants. This differs from other “contestable” processes, when projects are made available for research providers to contest for them.