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Te nohonga kaitiaki

Genomics Aotearoa is planning to compile genomic information both for conservation and improved breeding in primary production. Some of these genomes belong to taonga species, native species that are of particular importance to Māori.  Māori are the kaitiaki or guardians of taonga; therefore research practices of genomic researchers must recognise Māori rights and interests in these species.

Collaboration and partnership with Māori communities is crucial for developing culturally informed ethical guidelines that connect Māori concepts and guardianship with genomics.  Such guidelines will be a key enabler for future work in this area, as well as a way to provide benefit to Māori through work on Taonga species.

This project will develop guidelines for genomic research with Taonga species that explicitly incorporate Vision Mātauranga into benefit sharing and commercialisation pathways. These guidelines will aim to deliver wide benefits to those working with indigenous species in New Zealand, and offer advice and pathways for benefit sharing, Māori data governance and sovereignty and co-development of research programmes.

Genomics Aotearoa aims for its Taonga guidelines to be an underpinning document for New Zealand genomics research but also a potential model for indigenous groups internationally.  

The project will involve researchers from five Universities and two Crown Research Institutes involved in Genomics Aotearoa, and is supporting Maori capacity building with masters and PhD scholarships and a postdoctoral appointment.


  • Provide guidelines for working with Taonga species
  • Develop pathways that benefit Māori through genomic work on Taonga species
  • Develop pathways for better engagement with Māori and other communities
  • Improved capability and world leadership in this area


  • Associate Professor Maui Hudson (University of Waikato) – lead researcher
  • Professor Chris Battershill (University of Waikato)
  • Dr Jason Mika (Massey University)
  • Dr Phil Wilcox (University of Otago)
  • Professor Jacinta Ruru (University of Otago)
  • Dr Matt Stott (University of Canterbury)
  • Robert Brooks (Independent Researcher)
  • Ari Thompson (University of Waikato)
  • Tuti Nikora (University of Waikato)
  • Lisa Warbrick (Massey University)
  • Associate Professor Patrick Biggs (Massey University) 


Rights, interests and expectations: Indigenous perspectives on unrestricted access to genomic data
M Hudson, N Garrison, R Sterling, N Caron, K Fox, J Yracheta, J Anderson, P Wilcox, L Arbour, A Brown, T Kukutai, M Taualii, R Haring, G Baynam, P Dearden, D Chagné, R Malhi, I Garba, N Tiffin, M Stott, A Rolleston, A Sporle, M Walter, D David-Chavez, R Lovett, J Reading, B Te Aika, D Bolnick, L Ballantyne, A Martinez, S Carroll
Nature Reviews Genetics, 21, 377–384, April 2020,

Indigenous genomic databases: Pragmatic considerations and cultural contexts
NR Caron, M Chongo, M Hudson, L Arbour, WW Wasserman, S Robertson, S Correard, P Wilcox
Frontiers in Public Health, 8, 111, April 2020,

Related work

Guidelines for genomic research with Māori