An interview with…. Nathan James

Ngati Kuku, Ngai te Rangi

This month we chat to student Nathan James, about his passion for mātauranga Māori and how that’s informed his studies  and his desire to get involved in biosecurity…

Hi Nathan, tell us a bit about yourself?
Ko Mauao te Maunga.
Ko Tauranga te Moana.
Ko Mataatua te Waka.
Ko Ngati Kuku te Hapu.
Ko Ngai te Rangi te Iwi.
He panga tonu tenei ki te hope o Tutanekai ki Ngati Whakaue, ki Waitaha, Tapuika ano hoki,
Ko Nathan James ahau
Tihei Mauriora!

You’re currently studying at the University of Waikato, what area are you focussed on?
I completed a Bachelor of Science Degree at Waikato University Tauranga Campus in July 2020, prior to that I completed a Diploma in Marine Studies(level 6) at Toi Ohomai, which was an incredible two years of fun and learning. I am passionate about mātauranga Māori. My focus has broadened from marine ecology to also include issues that affect our terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems in Aotearoa.

How did you get involved in this area?
Toi Ohomai offered an introductory Biosecurity paper which sparked my interest and I have been involved in Biosecurity ever since. Living in Matapihi and observing the rapid growth of the region I am cognisant of the market driven growth in Tauranga. Cultural and Environmental issues are given less importance as it affects economic bottom lines. Whareroa, Motiti Island, Kaituna River, Te Awa o Ngatoroirangi are one of many rohe I whakapapa too, so I feel a sense of responsibility to do my part.

What are your plans post-study?
I am currently part of the Ngati Kuku Resource Management Unit which deals with resource consents in our rohe. I have been lucky enough to work with organisations such as TMBC, Manaaki Te Awanui Trust, Ngai te Rangi Iwi Trust and NIWA.   

What do you think are the biggest biosecurity challenges at the moment?
Monitoring and Maintaining the current state of our environment and finding effective restoration solutions that have a strong cultural influence.

What activities do you see making a difference?
Fieldtrips, introducing invasive species and potential invasive species to school aged children. Give them a day out to familiarize themselves with their appearance, preferred habitat and the effects on native species. Outside of the classroom!

When not working, how do you like to spend your time?
As a parent I do my best to be a good father to my son (stop trying to be his mate). I love the beach and I do my best (beg) to get a spot on the boat when the cousins go out for a dive gathering Kaimoana.

How do you think the TMBC network can be most effective?
Maintain your presence here in Tauranga and strive to live up to the name Tauranga Moana Biosecurity Capital of the World.