By Rosemary Rangitauira 05/03/2021

Mihi mai ki a Jade Rangiwhiua Hyslop whose area of research is river restoration and kaupapa Māori.

Passionate about the outdoors, learning and improving the environment in socially-just and innovative ways, she works at Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research in Kirikiriroa (Hamilton).

A budding researcher in its Manaaki Taiao Māori research team, Jade wants to encourage and support tāngata whenua to lead environment restoration projects.

“I hope to encourage them in ways that foster a Māori worldview that aligns with Māori aspirations; ideally in ways that are holistic and multi-dimensional. While also supporting the social, cultural and economic lived realities of Māori people, as well as providing environmental gains.”

Her time in Australia inspired Jade’s aspiration to support and manaaki tāngata whenua here.

“Working as a water scientist in Sydney, I noticed that the Indigenous community was not involved in the research we carried out. Returning home to Aotearoa, I felt passionate about helping our people to reconnect with their environment, and especially to help foster confidence and capability of whānau, hapū, and iwi to lead their own environmental projects in ways that can meet their unique aspirations,” she says.

Yet to publish her research, the Te Arawa uri (descendant) is working alongside mana whenua in Kaipara to develop a cultural health monitoring plan for the Hōteo River. Apace with monitoring, a fluvial geomorphic river restoration approach for the river will also be undertaken. This is the study of how the water flow interacts with the landscape around it such as the earth and river channel.

Started in 2010, the project is due to end by July 1 2021. Jade says there is potential for this kaupapa to be further developed in future.

Jade’s research practice is steeped in Mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge), which she says provides an alternative lens to western science.

“Natural resource management in Aotearoa has been predominantly framed through Eurocentric concepts and measures that consider our natural resources for their extractive value.

“Te Ao Māori thinking offers us an alternative paradigm that considers how both the natural world and people can prosper together. Mātauranga Māori is a taonga (treasure) and kaupapa Māori research exists as a methodology to ensure that mātauranga is kept safe when utilised for research. For example, interpreted appropriately through a Te Ao Māori context and upheld equally alongside western science parallels.”

The mother of two says the best thing about her mahi at Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research is that it is whānau-centred.

“It means that I have the support to grow my research skills and expertise while at the same time growing my whānau. I have two babies; 3-year-old Awana and one-year-old Kōwhai.

“It’s forever a challenge finding the perfect work-life balance in research. I acknowledge our team and Manaaki Whenua for supporting my career aspirations, whilst inherently understanding that whānau always come first,” she says.

Bonus read

Jade Rangiwhiua Hyslop has some advice for aspiring Māori researchers.

“Find a supervisor and other students who understand and fully support kaupapa Māori research, so that you have a culturally safe space to share and critique ideas and perspectives. Apply for one of the many Māori summer internships, and if they don’t exist then email the research companies you’d most like to work for and enquire directly because you never know if you don’t ask.”