Welcome to the official podcast of NUWAO (Nature-based Urban design for Wellbeing and Adaptation in Oceania), hosted by Maija Stephens (Ngāti Kahungunu, Rongomaiwahine, Ngāti Rangi, Pākehā) and Mercia Abbott (Ngāti Kahungunu and Ngāi Tahu).

Stick around with us as we share kōrero with awesome people doing important mahi in their fields of expertise, all working towards today’s climate issues and how we can respond with nature-based solutions together with local cultural identities. 

Our aim is to develop nature-based urban design solutions rooted in indigenous knowledges that support climate change adaptation, individual and community wellbeing in different contexts across Aotearoa and Oceania. 

The hope is that these podcasts will inform, inspire and call people to action!


or, on Buzzfeed

Maija Stephens talking on Waatea News about the NUWAO podcast series, December 2023:

Mercia Abbott and Maija Stephens

EPISODE 1: Introduction to the NUWAO podcasts

Welcome to the official podcast of NUWAO (Nature-based Urban design for Wellbeing and Adaptation in Oceania). Hosted by Maija Stephens and Mercia Abbott, in this introductory episode we cover who we are, what we stand for and what’s to come. Stick around with us as we share kōrero with awesome people doing important mahi in their fields of expertise, all working towards today’s climate issues and how we can respond with nature-based solutions together with local cultural identities.

EPISODE 2: Albert Refiti

Portrait of Albert Refiti, 2023,
by Maija Stephens

Join us in conversation with Dr. Albert Refiti, a research leader in the field of Pacific spatial and architectural environment at Auckland University of Technology. Refiti speaks on his upbringing, influences and the process of decolonising and indigenising knowledge.

“The second part of the movement or decolonisation is indigenisation. That is – for me and for anyone who is indigenous – to have access to their knowledge. Not just access but also for them to try to build their own worldview from that knowledge.”

Albert Refiti, 2023

EPISODE 3: Suli Vunibola

Portrait of Suli Vunibola, 2023,
by Maija Stephens

Suli Vunibola shares his journey revitalising ancestral knowledge on his Fijian home soil and speaks on themes of indigenous innovation and resilience.

“For indigenous innovation it’s always about the collective. It’s always about the whenua. It’s always about making sure that the future generations can also – not only appreciate what we have in terms of resources – but make sure that they keep learning about our knowledge systems.”

Suli Vunibola, 2023

EPISODE 4: Māia-te-oho Holman-Wharehoka

Portrait of Māia-te-oho Holman-Wharehoka, 2023,
by Maija Stephens

“It’s a reciprocal relationship between the natural environment and humans that needs to be nurtured.”

Māia-te-oho takes us through the process of her Masters project, in creating her own pūrākau to address the health of Waiwhetū stream. 

 “In fields of climate change and adaptation there’s views from scientists that we need to do something to stop whatever is happening but if you think of our Atua as people or as someone that looks after you there’s no way that you can actually control it to the extent that you think you can.”

Māia-te-oho Holman-Wharehoka, 2023

EPISODE 5: Vaimu’a Muliava

Portrait of Vaimu’a Muliava, 2023,
by Maija Stephens

Mr. Vaimu’a Muliava (New Caledonia Minister, member of New Caledonia Government in charge of innovation, and digital transition) emphasises the importance of respecting women as an integral part of respecting and caring for the land and ocean.  

“In our history of navigation, we call the land the whenua, and the whenua is placenta. So the vocabulary of our culture, is the vocabulary of women. That is why I truly understand we have to take care of women. Because without women – no life.”

 “I strongly believe that this way of thinking of women is the better way of thinking for us in the pacific, and I think for humanity.”

Vaimu’a Muliava, 2023

EPISODE 6: Amanda Yates

Portrait of Amanda Yates, 2023,
by Maija Stephens

Associate Professor at Huri Te Ao Hoahoanga – School of Future Environments, Auckland University of Technology Amanda Yates (Ngāti Rangiwewehi, Ngāti Whakaue, Te Aitanga a Māhaki, Rongowhakaata) works with Councils, iwi and communities exploring place-based, indigenous-led strategies and actions for urban transformation in an era of climate and biodiversity emergency. We speak with Amanda about her practice and the changes that need to occur in our system.

 “How do we affect system change and how do we shift to a more regenerative, more ecological, pluriversal or place based culture? We need to actively begin to build cultural systems that rebuild mauri, social and ecological viability.”

Amanda Yates, 2023

EPISODE 7: James Renwick

Portrait of James Renwick, 2023,
by Maija Stephens

We speak with Professor James Renwick, School of Geography, Environment, and Earth Sciences at Te Herenga Waka Victoria University of Wellington, Aotearoa. He is a researcher with broad knowledge of climate change, studying the weather and climate of Aotearoa and the Pacific. He is also an author on the last three IPCC Assessment reports. Renwick speaks on the urgency of change and how he deals with climate anxiety.  

“We don’t have time to talk about the problems anymore. We need to take action now. The science hasn’t changed, we need to have actions starting immediately. We have the power, we are the ones emitting this stuff we can stop.”

James Renwick, 2023

EPISODE 8: Willy Missack

Portrait of Willy Missack, 2023,
by Maija Stephens

Willy Missack is a Doctorate Student at Te Herenga Waka Victoria University of Wellington, in New Zealand. He is advisor to the Vanuatu Climate Action Network secretariat working with the community-based organization (CBO). He is also Vanuatu’s Negotiator on Loss and Damage and Founder & Executive Director of Learn to Serve Vanuatu, a youth-led CBO. We speak to him about his upbringing and how he aims to uplift communities to have agency over how they manage climate adaptation back home in Vanuatu. 

“The main goal for me is to understand the impact of climate change more deeply and also help the local community to adapt to it to sort of create their own cultural changes that we see.”

Willy Missack, 2023

EPISODE 9: Sibyl Bloomfield

Portrait of Sibyl Bloomfield, 2023,
by Maija Stephens

Sibyl Bloomfield (Waikato Tainui, Ngāti Maniapoto & Ngai Te Rangi) is a Landscape Architect and Senior Lecturer at Huri Te Ao Hoahoanga – School of Future Environments, Auckland University of Technology. We speak with Sibyl about her practice, her values and experience as a lecturer, as well as the complexities that surround using indigenous knowledge systems toward climate adaptation plans.

 “We have to act with integrity when it comes to Indigenous knowledge and be careful and intentional about how we frame what that means. If we are the lens through which people see that happening we have a responsibility to do that properly to be good stewards of that knowledge and those who hold it.”

Sibyl Bloomfield, 2023

EPISODE 10: Fleur Palmer

Portrait of Fleur Palmer, 2023,
by Maija Stephens

Associate Professor Fleur Palmer (Te Rarawa/Te Aupōuri/Ngāti Awa o Tāmaki Makaurau) at Huri Te Ao Hoahoanga – School of Future Environments, Auckland University of Technology speaks on housing issues in Aotearoa and how her architectural practice and research is aiding in shifting the way the system operates. We discuss Māori identity, Pākehā and Māori worldviews, and inherent connections to the environment.

“Through imagining and visualising that transformation – that’s a way of making it happen. It’s really really powerful.”

Fleur Palmer, 2023

EPISODE 11: Maibritt Pedersen Zari

Portrait of Maibritt Pedersen Zari, 2023,
by Maija Stephens

Associate Professor Maibritt Pedersen Zari (Te Wānanga Aronui O Tāmaki Makau Rau, Auckland University of Technology, Aotearoa New Zealand) is the Primary Research Investigator and Project Coordinator of NUWAO. We speak with her to get some insight into what the intentions of NUWAO are and how it aims to nurture the next generations to come through.  

“What we’re tying to do is just introduce a slightly more holistic way of thinking about nature-based solutions.”

“Working with nature is a lot more complex in Oceania and spiritual than it might be in other places so if you are working with a river in Aotearoa you are working with people’s ancestor. It’s not just like a body of water that has a flow rate and this many particulates or whatever. It’s something that has mauri, it’s something that’s alive. And we’ve seen that in our work across other places in the Pacific that people see the natural world as alive. Mountains are alive, oceans are alive, rivers, forests. Often in the Western science framework, those things are not seen as living entities.””

Maibritt Pedersen Zari 2023


EPISODE 12: Sam Wood

Portrait of Sam Wood, 2023,
by Maija Stephens

Sam Wood (Tangata whenua), talks about his masters project, smart cities, his involvement in law, and how he reconnects with his Māoritanga through engaging with projects concerned with climate adaptive policy change.

“I think it’s just been a perfect marriage of positive environmental outcomes but learning a bit more about my identity.”

Sam Wood, 2023