Shell acknowledges the Māori world view and the important role Māori play as Kaitiaki or guardians of the sky, sea and land.

That’s why we are working with hapū and rūnanga around the ongoing protection of Marine Mammals and supporting their members to become internationally accredited Marine Mammal Observers (MMO), to work on seismic survey vessels off New Zealand’s coast.

As MMOs they are providing new information to build on the existing scientific knowledge while at the same time change to further enhancing the cultural understanding of their hapū or rūnanga.

The course is aligned with the Department of Conservation (DOC) guidelines and part of the observer’s role is to record the presence of any mammals in the area. The recorded data is then sent back to DOC for analysis.

Participants are nominated by their hapū and rūnanga and Shell provides funding for MMO training, along with robust safety tuition. A Fitness-to-Work medical ensures candidates are suited to working in a remote offshore marine environment and three days of offshore safety training is critical to the process.

Maryjane Ngaone Waru of Ngāti Rāhiri hapū was the first Māori to complete the training in New Zealand under the new DOC guidelines. She sees her role as being a kaitiaki or guardian for marine life. “If it has anything to do with looking after our moana (sea) then we should be there as Māori,” she said.

There has been good feedback from Ngāti Rāhiri and Te Rūnanga o Awarua representatives who have already worked as paid MMOs off their respective coasts. They are delighted to know one of their ‘own’ is out there and caring for marine life.

A highlight for Shell was when Maryjane presented her learnings from her first MMO seismic survey, offshore Taranaki, back to our staff.

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