Tessa Thomson

Te Ngake o te Kūpenga Funding Recipient 2022

Tessa (Ngāti Raukawa)is currently completing a Master’s thesis in marine biology at Te Herenga Waka – Victoria University of Wellington focused on declining taonga species, toheroa (paphies ventricosa) in the Horowhenua rohe.

Tessa will apply a mātauranga Māori approach to her research and will explore the significance and value of toheroa to her whānau and hapū in the Horowhenua rohe. Tessa will then identify the point in the life cycle where toheroa is struggling and use eDNA to establish whether toheroa DNA still remains present in the Kuku Beach ecosystem. This also includes completing plankton tows and understanding the community of organisms currently present in the water column.

Lastly, Tessa will explore the adult population of toheroa through a combination of Western science using digging survey data, and mātauranga Māori methods, and compare these to samples from both Te Tai Tokerau and Te Wai Pounamu to gain a better perspective of toheroa overall. Tessa hopes that through her research she can lead the next generation to be kaitiaki of the toheroa and of Tangaroa.