Kayleb Himiona

Ngāi Tūhoe

Tonganui Scholarship recipient 2023

New Zealand’s aquaculture plan emphasises Māori inclusivity. In response, Māori have heavily invested in mussel (kākāriki kutai) production by expanding ownership. The economic success hinges on high-quality mussel seed (“spat”), however, Māori are excluded from engagement in supplying spat to support the growth of their aquaculture aspirations. Around 80% of the spat supply for this industry is harvested from Te-Oneroa-a-Tōhē without any involvement or economic return to iwi as most catch entitlements are owned and harvested by large corporations.

Kayleb’s research devises alternative means of producing high-quality kutai spat from catchment farms. The use of low technological and commercially applicable approaches can be used efficiently to remove spat for subsequent aquaculture purposes and would provide Maori operations with a dependable source of spat. The research marks his entry into a pioneering area of aquaculture research, and being the first rangatahi Māori in this field, he will be qualified to provide valuable direction to the rapidly growing aquaculture sector, ensuring meaningful engagement and positive outcomes for all involved.

“This scholarship aids in implementing innovative approaches, covering research expenses and specialised training, significantly advancing the project’s feasibility. This funding directly enables the exploration of effective methods, including testing and refinement to ensure its reliability. It supports collaboration with experts and stakeholders, facilitating the adoption of these practices across the industry. Ultimately, the Tonganui scholarship plays a pivotal role in driving the successful execution of this research initiative.

These aligned practices, bolstered by the scholarship, ensure environmental stewardship, prosperity, and positive outcomes for all stakeholders. These endeavours also resonate with Vision Mātauranga principles, underscoring the significance of indigenous knowledge and innovation.”