“He pukenga wai, he pukenga tāngata – a flood of water, a flood of people”

Raiatea Barlow-Kameta (Ngāti Unu, Ngāti Hikairo),  who is studying a Master of Science in Physical Geography at Te Whare Wānanga o te Ūpoko o te Ika a Māui understands the impact we have on the taiao, and the taiao on us. Floods have caused havoc in our rapidly urbanising ao and our rural areas with high impact on vulnerable communities. Realising an opportunity, she has shouldered the responsibility to creating effective strategies using computer-generated simulation modelling for flood protection and management.



Doing an earth science project that would have meaningful impact was a priority for Raiatea. She identified Mirumiru marae as a focal point because it is situated particularly close to the water which highlights high risk of flooding, erosion and economic impact. Not only was it geographical reasons, but having a connection to her marae in Kawhia moana, Waipapa and Maniapoto iwi gave her the drive to focus and commit to a kaupapa that centered around current issues.

Completing her undergraduate Bachelors of Science in Geography and Geology degree, she took an interest in historic, geological contextual knowledge that talks about many aspects – how the earth was formed over millions of years, how the climate changes over millions of years, and comparing it to the current day which created an awareness around the impacts on the bigger picture, our future.

Concentrating on collecting data in Marokopa was crucial as it was data scarce. Raiatea proceeded to identify where the hazards had occurred by recording flow, evaporation rates, rainfall, and creating computer-generated flood models. However, it was only the beginning as social ground based data through interviews were captured to flesh out the understanding and iwi knowledge around where floods were located, how the catchment responds to flooding and various other matters. This connection between culture and science is pivotal in calibrating the model to determine where future flooding may occur.

Knowing where the hazards are and knowing how to manage our land better are the first steps. Combining the two gives beneficial direction for changing the land use so that we are able to mitigate those hazards. Managing flood risks involves complex tasks, though Raiatea’s passion and work is built on contributing to the overall well-being of the environment  land and the people.

Maniapoto Māori Trust Board is privileged to have supported Raiatea during her studies and look forward to seeing what her next steps are in the near future.

Explore this kaupapa further by watching the video below.