The Team

Pia Pohatu

Researcher, Hikurangi Enterprises Ltd (Ngāti Porou, Rongowhakaata, Ngai Tamanuhiri)

Pia is a researcher and projects co-ordinator. Her background is in iwi and hapū environmental planning and kaupapa Maori, community-based research.  She has worked for Te Rūnanga O Ngāti Porou (Ngāti Porou Hapu Environmental Management Plans Project), Te Whare Wānanga O Ngati Porou (Waiapu Research Project – TWWX01: Maori Community Goals for Enhancing Ecosystem Health) and Te Pūni Kōkiri – Ministry of Maori Development (Gisborne Regional Office).  Her interests include te reo me ōna tikanga, environmental restoration and sustainability models for communities with a particular interest in whānau and hapū leadership, infrastructure and enterprise.

Pia is mama to her boys Arapeta Te Wa and Kauere Maaka and enjoys travel, kohi kaimoana, learning local histories and spending time with her whānau.

Suzi Kerr

Senior Fellow, Motu Economic & Public Policy Research Trust

Dr Suzi Kerr is Chief Economist at the Environmental Defense Fund and, until May 2019, a Senior Fellow at Motu Research. She graduated from Harvard University in 1995 with a PhD in Economics. Her current research work focuses on climate change. She lives in Wellington with her musician partner and their two daughters, but spends most weekends at their land up in Otaki Forks.

Sophie Hale

Research Analyst, Motu Economic & Public Policy Research Trust

Sophie joined Motu in July 2018, having completed her Masters in Ecology at the University of Canterbury. At Motu, Sophie works in the Environmental team. At present she manages the Waro Project, investigating the use of the New Zealand ETS to facilitate native forest regeneration on Māori land, focussed in Tairāwhiti.

Sophie loves tea, tramping, football, jazz, and auntying. More recently she’s also started undertaking ambitious craft projects.

Leo Mercer

PhD student, Victoria University of Wellington

Leo is in the final year of his PhD in Environmental Studies at Victoria University of Wellington. He grew up in the Bay of Plenty, and attended Whakatane High School before completing a BSc in 2015 majoring in Environmental Science and Geography. His research explores land use and management in te Tairawhiti and the Waiapu catchment and in particular, the co-benefits Māori landowners associate with existing and emerging land uses. His research is also interested in the role that native forest carbon farming can play in the development of Māori land and how this intersects with climate justice, finance and colonisation.

When Leo has spare time, he enjoys tramping, hunting, mountain biking and reading.

Sandra Cortés Acosta

PhD student, Victoria University of Wellington

I am Colombian and studying for a PhD in Environmental Studies at Victoria University. I came to New Zealand with the intention of learning about Māori collective land management, in the hope that this experience will offer insights into new models of land management for my country. I think Māori can set a positive example for others to follow.

My thesis focuses on learning about Māori land governance structures and exploring how these structures affect land-use decisions and hence greenhouse gas emissions. My thesis is supervised by Suzi Kerr, Dave Frame, and Carwyn Jones.

In my spare time, I enjoy listening to music, doing origami, exploring the outdoors, and biking.