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Genomic resources help Ngā Iwi i Te Rohe o Te Waiariki develop aquaculture for kingfish/haku

Kaimoana are taonga that are interwoven with Māori whakapapa as direct descendants of Tangaroa. Ngā Iwi i Te Rohe o Te Waiariki have developed the Smart Māori Aquaculture initiative, recognising that wildstock fisheries are in decline while demand for protein is growing.


The iwi collective is critically investigating alternative ways to supply high value kaimoana for whānau and for global food markets.

Genomics Aotearoa researchers are honoured to be part of this exciting partnership that is responding to a specific need within an iwi-led initiative. 

What we are doing
Ngā Iwi i Te Rohe o Te Waiariki want to develop haku (kingfish), among other finfish species, aquaculture in their rohe in Toi-te-Huatahi (the Bay of Plenty) and need to generate genomic knowledge and resources to do this. 

Understanding the genomic basis for desirable traits is fundamental to help select the most suitable wild individuals to form a broodstock for the region, and to develop breeding resources to select for best performing individuals from the selected haku genotypes. 

Chris Insley (Te Arawa Fisheries), who leads Ngā Iwi i Te Rohe o Te Waiariki, Maren Wellenreuther and David Chagné (Plant & Food Research) and Peter Ritchie (Te Herenga Waka - Victoria University of Wellington) have been working together on this Indigenous Genomics Platform project since 2022. 

Having scientists and iwi partners working side-by-side ensures the project plan is fit for purpose. Haku samples for genomic analyses have already been sourced by Te Arawa Fisheries from multiple locations around Toi-te-Huatahi. 

Naturally, Ngā Iwi i Te Rohe o Te Waiariki, as kaitiaki of haku from the Bay of Plenty, will have ownership and control over genetic data and its access, and all results and interpretation will be shared among the research partners. 

“Together we are beginning a journey towards genomic selection that will enable innovation of a taonga for aquaculture, supporting a ground-up approach for generating new capability and supporting iwi to exercise rangatiratanga and kaitiakitanga over haku aquaculture in Aotearoa,” Maren said.

Read more about Genomic resources for selective breeding of kingfish/haku here