//043 Kerensa Johnston, Wakatū Inc CEO

October 20, 2020

Kerensa Johnston (Ngāti Tama, Ngāruahine, Ngāti Whawhakia) is the CEO of Wakatū Incorporation, which has about 4,000 owners who descend from whānau and hapū of Whakatū, Motueka and Mōhua rohe. 

Kerensa has worked as as a solicitor in the private sector, a Barrister and, as a legal academic where she specialised in Māori legal development, public law, land law and international law. She was part of the Nelson Tenths Reserves and Occupation Reserves case against the NZ Government, which was won in the Supreme Court. 

Today, her role has a focus on leading her whānau through the sustainable use of their land and resources, including a focus in areas of food sovereignty, innovation, and Indigenous science.

In this episode we talk about that supreme court case and the legacy of Wakatū, about harnessing the strengths of different iwi and hapū, and her mahi with Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga, the Māori Centre of Research Excellence.

When we started, our lawyers told us it had never been done before – “It’s not possible.” So we found new lawyers.

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