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This page is www.kaitiakitanga.net/biomimicry it also responds as www.biomimicry.org.nz (which we are holding for any integrated national group that might emerge)

Listen to Norbert's interview with Kim Hill, National Radio, Sat 3 April on this webpage
Thanks Norbert for all that you shared with us, and to Nexus and all others who helped.

Where Evolution Meets Innovation

Biomimicry for Everyone
Exploring nature's wisdom
with Norbert Hoeller and friends

Biomimicry is the science and art of emulating Nature's best biological ideas to solve human problems.

Non-toxic adhesives inspired by geckos, energy efficient buildings inspired by termite mounds, and resistance-free antibiotics inspired by red seaweed are examples of biomimicry happening today -- and none too soon. Humans may have a long way to go towards living sustainably on this planet, but 10-30 million species with time-tested genius helps us get there.

Twin DVD set now available - "Biomimicry Quest with Norbert Hoeller "

DVD 1of2 Nexus Public Youth Forum at University of Auckalnd, with presentation by Norbert and great dialogue. (114 minutes)
DVD 2of2 Designer Forum on Unitec Marae - A wide range of participants sharing and making Connections

Twin Set for $30 from Te Kura Toitu o Te Whaiti Nui-a-Toi, PO Box 3013, Rotorua, Ph 07 3663221 schoolooffice.tewhaiti@tuhoe.com

...more Kaitiakitanga (sustainabilty) DVD's here

NEW RESOURCE Nov 2010: Check out these notes and images from a trip into the Frasers Hill Rainforest in Malaysia. led by Ille Gebeshuber

Scientific Expedition into Malaysian Rainforest Jan 2010
Report on Bukit Fraser 2010 exploration


Thanks to all who participated. Here is some feedback to Nexus from attendees

“Biomimicry forum was just an amazing opportunity for me to learn a whole new way of approaching the world. Biomimicry was a novel area for me and i believe that many of the people who were at the forum felt the same way. However, the presentation was so informative; thank you Norbert! The forum was also a chance for me to reflect on myself and my behaviour in the society. We are living in a world where the issue of global warming and its effects are so apparent to us. Biomimicry aims to look at the nature and learn from the nature to confront the problems and to enhance our living. It was true that what nature has left with now would be the best, the most efficient, the most workable system as it has been surviving for billions of years. Then it occurred to me that with the method of biomimicry, we could effectively combat the global warming problem. But at the same time, I was surprised that no governments were even bothering to learn more about biomimicry. United Nations was the only organisation that had interest in it. I really hope that the influence of Biomimicry spreads through out the globe, making change in the world.”- Esther Ryu

“The biomimicry forum really opened my eyes on the possibilities nature can bring. Innovation from a biomimicry point of view isn't just about the imitation of nature, it means to adopt natural principals to promote a more sustainable design approach. I found it hugely beneficial that Nexus invites a wide variety of speakers to explore all aspects of sustainable living.”- Julie Zou

 “The forum was very interesting and inspiring. It opened doors, ideas and opportunities that hold a lot of potential for new innovations, technologies and processes. We have lived in/with nature but now we have the ability to utilise the amazing natural chemicals to help others and people around us.”- Lily Feng

"For me, it really made the association with my studies in Biomed, the concept of biomimicry is actually a very old idea, for example, the invention of velcro, was inspired by the Swiss engineer found out the seeds of burdock that kept sticking on to his dog’s fur, when he came back from a hunting trip. This leading to the invention of Velcro striped shoes that solve of the problem for children who have not yet learned to tie shoelaces, and many other endless application for the benefit of humanity. One of the most inspiring thing for me is the idea of “ not killing, but confusing the virus” so it will not bind to our cell which cause infections to our body. . [If this sounds confusing - then comes to our next eventJ. I guess what I am trying to say here is that I know being a student is very busy, especially with all your other commitment and stuff, but you never know what would you gain from by participating something as interesting as this, that may actually benefit your future learning. Sustainability is actually a living system, by understanding the complexity of our surroundings, thus we could truly be sustainable and live with (not over) the environment around us" - Charles Harsono

Some key points that Norbert made:

1. Biomimicry is less about exploiting nature in an extractive sense, and more about it as a source of new learning

2. Biomimicry occurs at at least three levels:

Mimicing Form - the connection between nature and mimics is generally visually obvious (SIMPLE)
(eg hook grass and velcro)

Mimicing Process (or function) the connection between nature and mimics may be scientific, (COMPLICATED)
(eg mussels and the development of non toxic adhesives)

Mimicing Systems looking at nature for lessons to help us improve our systems (COMPLEX)
(eg looking at the rainforest and its inter-dependence to help us grow vibrant organisations, communities and industrial processes that are more effective and sustainable

3. The above may make it easy for us to think that mimicing systems involves the highest level of difficulty, but that may not be true. Perhaps this might be the area where the big gains could be made if we could better understand complexity. The Cynefin Framework (See video) suggests that we may need a quite different mindset to operate in this the complex domain, where life is seen and an inter-connected network of networks. Western Science has often in the past focussed on the objects; now we must focus more on their relationships. Nature exposes the deeper patterns that force us to question our assumptions and see beyond what we would otherwise think of as chaos.

PEEK- into a groundbreaking new Kiwi book on biomimicry for kids of all ages "Natures Techno Tricks" by Dee Pigneguy

Here was our program DOWNLOAD POSTER HERE

Aim: to help our country grow as an innovator by working smarter at all levels and in all sectors:

(a) Youth Forum
Exploring Nature's Window


(b) Family Learning event
Nature's Design Quests at
Museum, Zoo, MOTAT, Arataki, Maritime Museum , Kaipatiki

(c) Designer Forum
Nature - The Supreme Design Lab

Register your interest here




Public / Youth Forum - Tuesday 6th April 7.00pm - University - MAP

Open to everyone - invite your fellow students, schoolmates, teachers, workmates, bosses, friends and family.

Hosts: Nexus Student Sustainability Group,
Location: University of Auckland, Business School, Grafton Road, Room OGGB3

Tuesday evening 6th April 2010 (Easter Tuesday)
(With a diverse panel of students, scientists, educators and designers)
(Facilitated by Dr Kepa Morgan, Auckland School of Engineering))
(A gold coin / koha to contribute to costs will be appreciated please)
(format somewhat similar to that with michael braungart)

6.30 - 7.00pm informal time for youth panel to meet with Norbert
7.00 - 8.30pm *Public presentation by Norbert, youth panel reflection and open to questions
8.30 - 9.00pm briefing by Norbert for those volunteering as learning co- facilitators on quests next day

Panel members (Provisional)
Bernadette Papa, Ngati Whatua, A weaver who learnt about Biomimicry at Bioneers conference in 2008
Maibritt Pedersen Zari, Architecture Lecturer at Victoria University, she has Biomimicry training
Rowan Brooks, 3rd year Biology Student, University of Auckland
Lily Feng, 2nd year Bioengineering student, University of Auckland
Charles Harsono, Biomedical Engineering Student, University of Auckland
Danilo Azhar, Environmental Science Student, University of Auckland


  • email nexus.sustainability@gmail.com and Nexus will remind you by email closer to the time.
    To help us with our planning, please specify (without obligation) the sessions you think you may attend:

    • Public / Youth Forum .........
            • A Quest (specify Q1 - Q6 below ) .......
                          • Designer Forum

  • Are you a biologist, student, engineer, scientist, designer, innovator, artist, educator, Maori or any other who can add a different view point or specialist knowledge to help us better reflect on what nature can teach us?

    • To be considered for the panel on either of the forums, please add a one paragraph profile.

    • To volunteer to help as a co- facilitator at one of the Quests on Wednesday, please advise your area of expertise / interest and let us know which location would suit you best. ( For this you don't need to be a knowledge wiz though you might contribute that in some places, but rather be good at listening and encouraging others. You wont be alone for this - others will be with you. You will need to attend the Tuesday night forum / briefing please to help prepare yourself and meet you co- facilitators)

  • Ask to get onto the Nexus Mailing list so that you get advance notice of other such events in the future.




Biomimicry Family Learning Quests
- Wed 7th April 10.00am

Bring yourselves and your (grand)children (all ages) and friends along for some fun learning at one of the following Auckland venues

9.00 am - 10.00am opportunity for learning co- facilitators to check out resources at each location

10.00am - 12.00am
Natures Design Quest * - Children, students, designers, and families

Look at how things work in nature?
Compare how we would do it?
Come up with Life's Design Principles?
Consider problems we face in the light of Life's Principles?
Express a problem differently!

12.00am - 1.00pm Those that are able help a small team of volunteers from each quest site prepare for the afternoon presentation of their learning at the designer forum.

* Bring your lunch and drinks to enjoy with others

Need to get to an event? Try MAXX website for directions, or ring them at 09 366 6400 or 0800 10 30 80

QUEST LOCATION 1 - Auckland War Memorial Museum (Heritage Focus) free entry for all - MAP

Report to the Information Desk at the South Side Atrium at 10.00 am and ask for Virgil Evetts who will show you to the AV room for an introductory overview before exploring the museum treasures
(Co-facilitators to meet Virgil at Atrium Door at 9.00 am please to get orientated with exhibits)

  • Questions and Resources:

    What can Polynesian knowledge add to the field of Biomimicry with its technology and stories?
    How did early NZ pioneers learn to live and prosper in a very different natural environment?
    What can we learn about life today and its challenges from pre-historic fossil remains?
    INFO - Teach Engineering - resources about learning from Fantastic Fossils
    Learn from the exceptional exhibit on the role mangroves play in our ecosystem?


QUEST LOCATION 2 - Auckland Zoo (Animal Focus) - normal zoo costs - bring student / gold cards - MAP

Report to the main zoo gate (Gate 1) at 10.00 am and you will be directed to the NZCCM Lecture Theatre for a short briefing before the quest.
(Co-facilitators to meet at gate 1 at 9.30am where Helen (Education Admonistrator) will lead you to the NZCCM lecture Theatre to set up, then take a quick look around the zoo before the participants arrive.


QUEST LOCATION 3 Maritime Museum (Marine / Design Focus) - normal entry charges - MAP

Report to the main museum entry at 10.00am and you will be met by your facilitators for a short introduction and briefing prior to the quest.
Co-facilitators to meet Ben Hutton at the main entry main gate at 9.00 to get an overview of exhibits and help plan the quest beforehand ( note: there will be some free entry places for co-facilitators)

QUEST LOCATION 4 - MOTAT (Technology / Agriculture Focus) - normal family entry charges - MAP

Report at the Main Museum entry at 10.00 am and you will be directed to the Discovery 3 room for a short introduction and briefing by facilitators prior to the quest
Co-facilitators to arrive and meet at the vehicle gate on Stadium Road at 9.00am please, to prepare and look around exhibits.


Report at the upstairs reception desk at 10.00am and you will be let for a short introduction in the seminar room before going on the quest in the centre and on its Nature trail.
Co-facilitators to report at 9.00am please

(free entry) - MAP

Report to the Kaipatiki Project Environment Centre, 17 Lauderdale Rd, Birkdale, Auckland, (that runs between Kaipatiki Road and Eskdale Road) for an overview of biomimicry in the Centre, then the quest in nursery and areas of restoration.
Co-facilitators - please meet at the centre at 9.00am for a briefing and a look around first.

  • Questions and Resources:

    What can we learn from nature to help us restore the health of our place, water and planet?
    Who is effected and whose responsibility is it to do something positive for the place we live in?
    How important are trees and porous surfaces - should we replace then with concrete and drains?
    - Nature teaches us about detoxification of the places we have polluted - our fungi friends?
    Can we turn our city waterways back into places that nurture life and protect our harbours for all?
    VIDEO INFO - Resources from Whaingaroa Harbourcare (Raglan) including videoclips




Designer Forum
- Wed 7th April 1.30pm - UNITEC Marae (Gate 3) - MAP

unitec maraeBusiness, designers, scientists, educators, public, politicians, and others from a range of disciplines reflect on the discoveries of those on the quests and what that might mean for Aotearoa NZ

Hosts: UNITEC Marae* (appreciate its unique design)
Location: Gate 3 Entry off Carrington Road

Wednesday 7th April 2010 (Easter Wednesday afternoon)

(Facilitated by Rau Hoskins Architect / Appropriate design tutor)
(supported by a panel of designers, educators, business people and more)
(A gold coin / koha to help cover costs will be appreciated please)


"If you are working on the wrong problem its hard to get the right solution"

1.30pm - 2.00pm - Visitors formally welcomed onto marae, followed by an introduction to the design of the house
2.00pm - 2.20pm - an overview of biomimicry by Norbert
2.20pm - 3.00pm - Quest Teams reflect on their morning's discoveries and learning
3.00pm - 3.30pm - Reflections led by Norbert and panel - topic - NZ moving forward as an innovative nation.
3.30 pm onwards - Casual networking time at The Long Black Cafe Unitec Building 1


Panel members (provisional)
Carin Wilson, Designer, Artist and Sculptor
Iain Anderson, Bioengineering Institute, University of Auckland
Kirk Serpes, Mechanical Engineer, founding member of Nexus
Chis Chitty, Massey University, TV 's Dr Robotech on "Lets Get Inventing"
Maibritt Pedersen Zari, Architecture Lecturer at Victoria University, she has Biomimicry training

* For those who have not been welcomed onto the marae at UNITEC "Te noho kotahitanga" [To reside in Unity] and entered the the magnificent new Wharenui, named Te Ngakau Mahaki" [The peaceful heart], you will find an exceptional rich and creative environment; very appropriate to embrace the learning of this forum. It's designer, Master Carver Lyonel Grant states:

"I wanted to do something new, not just decorate a box, but create a showcase for our culture that's unique in the world. To do that I had to turn the clock back 100 years, look at the traditional techniques, and then work out how modern construction methods could be used to complement those techniques, given that this wharenui is maybe three times bigger than the classical model."


What is Biomimicry?

Biomimicry is the science and art of emulating Nature's best biological ideas to solve human problems.

Non-toxic adhesives inspired by geckos, energy efficient buildings inspired by termite mounds, and resistance-free antibiotics inspired by red seaweed are examples of biomimicry happening today -- and none too soon. Humans may have a long way to go towards living sustainably on this planet, but 10-30 million species with time-tested genius help us get there.

Watch Janine Benyus explain Biomimicry on TED www.ted.com/talks/janine_benyus_biomimicry_in_action.html

Watch Jay Harman video on Nature's shapes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=by0JhirtO-0   

Learn more about the institute: www.biomimicryinstitute.org/about-us/what-is-biomimicry.html

See some biomimicry examples from San diego Zoo: http://www.sandiegozoo.org/conservation/biomimicry/examples

PEEK INTO a new NZ Book on Biomimicry for Kids of all ages "Natures Techno Tricks" by Dee Pigneguy

More You Tube video on Nature's Patterns and Mathematics including
Nature by Numbers - a graphic video that shows the order that has emerged in nature's growth
Nature and Numbers
- explaining this for schoolchildren to help them see the maths around them
Fibonacci Numbers in Nature - a teachers explains flowers, forests and bees in nature

Phi, the nature of growth - what this might mean for designers
Jain - Sacred Geometry & Vedic Mathematics
- what ancient mathematicians learnt from nature

Read about the Designers Accord their Global Summit on Design Education and Sustainability and their Case studies with "Fast Company". Watch for details of their Biomimicry design Charrette (coming)

THE BIOLOGY OF BUSINESS - click to view slideshow by Sharon Vanderkaay of Farrow Architects


kakaWhat could we learn from the design of the kaka beak that nature has perfected for its task over millions of years? .. great for undoing the zip on trampers packs to find food.

Why may the underside of our silver fern be silver?
Look for some school weather station inspired answers here
How could we use this information to design something useful like a shadehouse that would nurture growth beneath it?


Ask Nature?

Imagine 3.8 billion years of design brilliance available for free, at the moment of creation, to any sustainability innovator in the world. 

Imagine nature's most elegant ideas organized by design and engineering function, so you can enter “remove salt from water” and see how mangroves, penguins, and shorebirds desalinate without fossil fuels. Now imagine you can meet the people who have studied these organisms, and together you can create the next great bio-inspired solution. Watch for the Ask Nature Database www.asknature.org

See also Tools for Teachers http://www.asktheplanetcd.org/tools_for_teachers.html

Norbert Hoeller (our Catalyst)

Is a resident of Ontario Canada who works with the Biomimicry Institute. He has generouisly offered to share some of this thinking with us while in holiday in Austra`lia and NZ

Although not an 'official biomimicry speaker', he will put together a presentation with lots of time for questions, and will give an update on the 'Patterns from Nature' project.  

He is also working with someone in Ontario on a workshop for Junior Kindergarten through grade 8 that will be quite different from the normal biomimicry 'show and tell'.  Their assumption is that students know more about the subject than we think, but may not have a framework to 'connect the dots'.  Most of the workshop is organised around asking them questions and exploring their answers, with a smattering of exercises for the 'physical learners'.

Other local contributors will work with him in these sessions

Thanks Norbert for generously extending your holiday in this part of the world to be the catalyst that makes this event possible.

Who are working together with "mutual leverage" to help make this happen?

This is an innovation focused initiative for Aotearoa NZ (done with a zero budget) that is quietly emerging using living systems thinking within a wide network that embraces people with many other network connections that each support it in their own win-win ways:

The Biomimicry Institute, Nexus Student Sustainability Group, Ngati Whatua, University of Auckland, Auckland University of Technology, Massey University, UNITEC, Manukau Institute of Technology, Auckland Zoo, Auckland Museum, Maritime Museum, The Sir Peter Blake Trust, Spirit of Adventure Trust, Museum of Transport and Technology (MOTAT), ARC Arataki Centre, Kaipatatiki RestorationTrust, Te Kura Kaupapa Maori A Rohe O Mangere, Enviroschools Auckland, Envirochallenge, LENScience, NZTE "Better by Design", Designers Institute of NZ, The Designers Accord, Auckland Bioengineering Institute, IPENZ (Institute of Engineers) , NZICA (Chartered Accountants) Sustainability Group, Intercreate / Ecosapiens, Intersect, Youth Media CHALLENGE, Landcare Research, Ecomatters Environment Trust, The NZ Trust for Conservation Volunteers, Transition Towns, Forest and Bird (Auckland), The Royal Society, The MacDiamid Institute, Sustainable Aotearoa SANZ, Inspiring Communities, Leadership New Zealand, Community Waitakere, Employers and Manufacturers Association (Northern), The NZ Business Council for Sustainable Development, The Sustainable Business Network, Rotary Clubs (various), The Natural Step, Manukau City Council Libraries, The Department of Conservation (BOP / Whirinaki), Takapuna Grammar School, Onehunga High School Business School, Miranda Brown - Conscious cloth, Ecostore, The Kaitiakitanga Network and many others.

If you can contribute in any way to help the the volunteer team making this happen please email us.

The Kaitiakitanga Network has made these connections with the Biomimicry Institute and others that share processes of observation that match those that have been practiced for ages as indigenous science; In this world view, we see ourselves as just another rich part of the magnificent natural world we live in.

Biomimicry offers positive growth paths for the future .. In the words of our of our previous presenters Michael Braungart, (Cradle to Cradle design) this is not about "doing less things that are bad" but instead working much SMARTER to "Do things that are more good"




Our gift to you - download Free Whirinaki Matariki Wall Calendar

What Andree a sustainability writer discovered about Kaitiakitanga

Coming Easter 2010 Biomimicry Exploration - Norbert Hoeller, Auckland
David Bellamy - Moa's Ark revisited tour Whirinaki 25 4-10 Oct 09
The Maori Youth Hikoi to Bioneers Conference, San Francisco 16 Oct 08
VIDEO "Redesigning our Future" - Youth Forum with Michael Braungart

Papakainga Development - Matekuare Whanau Project underway
Minginui Community Gardening - underway thanks to Community Max
Whirinaki Ecological Technology (We-tech) Our pest control innovation

Check out our school's Energy Monitoring / Weatherstation project

Our drama production, kapakaka and other creative initiatives

Ngati Whare Iwi Treaty Settlement signed, incl partnership with DOC
WEMZ - The Whirinaki Ecological Restoration Zone - a project with DOC
DOC partnerships information kiosk, Mangamate, Sanctuary(proposed)
Take a photo tour through our valley see restoration work needed
Ready to start - our Whirinaki Centre, Nursery and Recycling Projects
Our project to upgrade our water supply in Minginui Mar 07

Thanks TPK for facilitating Govt support for Minginui initiatives
Our network's submission to govt on Rural Community Opportunities

Toxin Bioremediation
Project started in Whakatane May 09
Celebrate what our friends at Hokianga Harbourcare are doing
Our Network's Mycorestoration Research Project - Fungi and mushroom

Our Lopez friends help Raglan with an affordable housing project

Thanks MfE for a big toxin cleanup on our millsites - July 07
Blocked - our Community Digital Strategy - Whirinaki Interactive 12/06
Prince Andrew adopts our Kiwi, Princess Beatrice on Mokoia Is Mar 07
Our network on the Kiwi Youth Voice learning journey to US. Mar 07

Our network at Youth Voice Digital Earth Summit on Sustainbility Aug 06
We welcomed Hunter Lovins 7-9 July 06, VIDEO view NZ tour resources
Thanks Waikato University for help with broadband 05
Thanks Housing Corp, house painting and marae restoration teams
Go Tramping in Whirinaki. See Kaka, Kiwi, Weka, Robin, Blueduck
Report Living Organisation workshops. Tipu Ake presented worldwide 05
Report Hikoi to Indigenous Knowledges Conf , Well, NZ. June 05
Thanks to UNITEC Architecture Students for help with town plans 04
Report on Sustainable Resources Conf, Colorado 04
Report on PMI Global Forum, Los Angeles Tipu Ake paper 04
Report on Sharing Indigenous Wisdom Conf, Wisconsin, June 04
Int and local visitors attend Tipu Ake Retreat March 04 See report
MPs Horomia and Mallard open our new merged area school Jan 04
Trip to Whaingaroa Env Gp Raglan, Jan04 learnings, VIDEO view



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