Eight Northlanders are among a group of Pacific people discussing ways of protecting indigenous food sources and passing that knowledge to youth.

A powhiri was held in Whangārei yesterday for 51 indigenous people from Northland, Samoa, Tuvalu, Fiji, Hawaii, Cook Islands, Tonga, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Micronesia, Kiribati and Australia.

A five-day Pacific regional workshop at the Kura Te Kapehu Whetu on Herekino St is being held by the Montreal-based Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (SCBD) in partnership with He Puna Marama Trust and Te Kopu.

John Scott, of SCBD, said the purpose of the workshop was to build upon and promote traditional knowledge on how to save plants and animals as important food sources.


"We are losing natural resources through a number of ways including climate change which means humanity is increasingly reliant on a few plants and animals to feed them.

"One of the messages coming through from the participants is that we should be looking at traditional diet which is much more diverse," Scott said.

As part of the workshop, the group will also be attending a field trip at Motatau to experience rivers and the migration of eels, study of traditional Māori medicine from leaves and bark to heal injuries, and to hear stories and the history of the local marae.

Scott said participants would also learn about national and regional policies around indigenous issues as part of the workshop.

For the first couple of days, he said participants would be told about international guidelines for traditional knowledge and how to implement them at a national level.

Scott said the protection of natural resources to enable reliable food sources was important given the pace at which they were being lost.

Eight representatives from New Zealand were nominated and selected by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from iwi throughout the country because of their work and experience in traditional knowledge.

Scott will conduct similar workshops in Sri Lanka for the Asia region in July and in Morocco in October.