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Hokonui Rūnanga investigates setting up first ever NZ kanakana research centre

The Southland App

14 March 2024, 3:00 AM

Hokonui Rūnanga investigates setting up first ever NZ kanakana research centre Macrophlamia – juvenile kanakana. Photo: Supplied

Setting up the first ever New Zealand research centre dedicated to kanakana - a jawless fish that looks like an eel but is more closely related to sharks - and other taonga species, is being investigated by Hokonui Rūnanga.


Predating the dinosaur, the nationally vulnerable fish migrate up the Waikawa and Mataura rivers from August till October to spawn.


The Rūnanga's Kaiārihi Taiao (environmental lead) Riki Parata will leave his current position to lead the project.


Multiple agencies including the Cawthron Institute, the Biological Heritage National Science Challenge, Plant & Food Research, University of Canterbury, Kitson Consulting, NIWA, and Te Wai Māori Trust have already been collaborated with.


Luka Whaitiri-Finn from Hokonui Rūnanga Kaupapa Taiao handles a kanakana. Photo: Supplied


“It’s a fantastic opportunity to step up and see if I can make this happen,” Parata said. 


“We have been involved in plenty of kanakana research to date, but this is a whole new level.”


Hokonui Rūnanga Manager Terry Nicholas is excited by the initiative.



“Building intergenerational capability through innovative research and science is at the heart of what we have been looking to develop through our Murihiku Regeneration kaupapa."


"The establishment of Kanakana Research Ltd is another bold and positive step,” Nicholas said.  


Hokonui Rūnanga Kaupapa Taiao Chief Advisor Dr Lynda Murchison says Parata’s presence will be missed, “but this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity”. 


“We have a great team, which will ensure the work here continues.”



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