AlterNative: An International Journal of Indigenous Peoples, Vol 3, No 1 (2007)

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WAIORA AND CULTURAL IDENTITY Water quality assessment using the Mauri Model

Te Kipa Kepa Brian Morgan


The New Zealand Government’s Freshwater for a sustainable future (2004a) discussion paper raises the need for an effective process for the inclusion of Māori input on water management issues. Few processes have been developed specifically for Aotearoa/New Zealand. In Aotearoa/New Zealand, for Māori communities, a more appropriate level of resource management decision making is at the hapū (sub-tribe) level and it is here that input from Māori communities affected by proposals under the Resource Management Act must be considered. Hapū have direct relationships to puna (springs), other water bodies and a geographic region that are reinforced in their pepeha (tribal sayings) and whakatauki (proverbs). Water bodies, such as streams, rivers, lakes and wetlands are key elements in the identity, whakapapa (genealogy) and mana (prestige) of the hapū. Water and all living things have their own mauri (life force or principle), which is important for a hapū to protect from degradation and damage. Therefore consultation and other forms of Māori involvement should incorporate representation of relevant hapū. Such a step would be consistent with the Treaty of Waitangi.


Mauri is the central concept that the Mauri Model uses to interpret hapū values in the context of contemporary development. The Mauri Model has a strong foundation in the traditional values of tangata whenua (people of the land) and also parallels the current policy direction being taken by central government in New Zealand. This enables a direct comparison between the results of conventional engineering analysis and results based on analysis of impacts on mauri within the Mauri Model.



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