Applications have now closed for 2024 funding round

Each year, Te Wai Māori Trust supports iwi, hapū, and whānau to fulfil aspirations for freshwater fisheries in their rohe through our Wai Ora Fund. Applications for the 2024 funding round closed at 5pm 17 July 2024.
The fund is intended to support the promotion and sharing indigenous fisheries’ expertise, knowledge and understanding; increasing the quality and range of information to iwi and hapū on freshwater fisheries; and enhancing the health and wellbeing of the indigenous fisheries and their environment.
Over $2.5 million has been distributed to iwi to date, with a total of 70 projects funded through the Wai Ora Fund since 2012.

In 2024, our funding pool of $250,000 was made available, with up to $50,000 per project. To view some of the previous projects made possible through the Wai Ora Fund click here.

To ensure you hear about the next funding round, please click the link below to join the pānui list.

Interested? Join our pānui list

Click the button below to join our pānui list and be notified of future funding rounds.

Tuna release

Ngāti Apa ki te Rā Tō project releasing tuna (Photo credit: Naomi Aporo-Manihera)

Purpose of the Fund

Through the Wai Ora Fund, Te Wai Māori seeks to enable Māori to develop expertise to promote and advance Māori interests in freshwater fisheries through development, research and education. The purpose of the fund is to:

Increase Iwi and hapū capacity and capability in freshwater fisheries and their ability to exercise rangatiratanga over their freshwater fisheries

Promote and share indigenous fisheries expertise, knowledge and understanding

Increase the quality and range of information to Iwi and hapū on freshwater fisheries and their interests thereof

Enhance the health and wellbeing of the indigenous fisheries and their environment.

Eligibility criteria

The Māori Fisheries Act 2004 specifies that Te Wai Māori can distribute funds to the following groups:

  • Māori;
  • Mandated Iwi Organisations; or
  • Other Māori organisations

Projects will be assessed for their strategic value in achieving the purposes of the Fund. Projects must be focussed on one or more of the four guiding principles in relation to freshwater fisheries and their habitats.

Projects will not be eligible for funding if they have received funding from the Wai Ora Fund three times previously. However, applicants who have received funding previously for different projects are eligible.

Measuring tuna
Analysing kūtai
Weighing tuna

Ngāti Apa ki te Rā Tō project weighing tuna (Photo credit: Naomi Aporo-Manihera)

Funding criteria

Shared funding is preferred (i.e. Iwi/hapū/local or regional council/other funding agents provide funding to project). Applicants should note that the maximum funding amount that can be awarded per project is $50,000 GST exclusive. Applicants need to provide a minimum 20% contribution to the project, whether it be cash or in-kind.
Funding decisions are based on the:

  • Funding criteria
  • Priority areas specified by Te Wai Māori
  • Quality of applications received

In assessing applications, Te Wai Māori may take into account the past contract performance of applicants who have previously received funding.

Funding will not be provided for:

  • Capital expenditure
  • Costs relating to motor vehicles and buildings
  • Costs relating to business operating expenses
  • Retrospective costs
  • Intellectual property royalties
  • Commercial ventures
  • Legal advice
  • Resource consents
  • Scholarships/PhD
  • Water Conservation Orders

Funded project

Te Maru o Kaituna | Kaituna Pātaka Kai Project

The Kaituna Pātaka Kai Project is a Wai Ora funded collaboration led by tāngata whenua representatives of Te Maru o Kaituna River Authority, a co-governance entity established as a result of the Tapuika Claims Settlement Act 2014.
Speaking at the Māori Freshwater Fisheries Conference, Elva Conroy (Tapuika, Tuhourangi) and Hemi O’Callaghan (Tapuika, Waitaha, Ngāti Whakaue) share their journey of preserving and revitalising mātauranga, tikanga and kawa of freshwater taonga.

For further information on eligibility or the priority areas for funding, please refer to the Wai Ora Fund Guidelines. You can also contact us via email at:

Setting tuna

 Ngāti Apa ki te Rā Tō project setting tuna (Photo credit: Naomi Aporo-Manihera)