Troubled Waters: Maori Values and Ethics for Freshwater Management and New Zealand’s Fresh Water Crisis

Stewart-Harawira, Makere, Troubled Waters: Maori Values and Ethics for Freshwater Management and New Zealand’s Fresh Water Crisis. Wires Water (accepted May 20, 2020)

29 Pages Posted: 11 Jul 2020 Last revised: 27 Jul 2020

Date Written: May 20, 2020

Abstract

The landmass of Aotearoa New Zealand totals some 268,000 square kilometres, including 425,000 km of rivers, more than 4000 lakes and approximately 200 aquifers (MfE 2007). For Aotearoa New Zealand’s indigenous Maori, these freshwater bodies are part of a complex system of genealogical relationships from which derive the traditional Maori knowledge, values and ethics which shape Maori customary practices for freshwater monitoring and freshwater management. The rupture of these relationships through a century and a half of colonization and industrialization and the dispossession of Maori from their lands and waters also dispossessed Maori of their rights and responsibilities to enact traditional customary practices of kaitiakitanga, stewardship of the natural environment. In 2017 Aotearoa New Zealand’s freshwater systems were designated as amongst the worst in the world. Today they are continuing to degrade.

This article focuses on Maori traditional knowledge, ethics and values for freshwater monitoring and management. The article reviews the impact of colonization and development on Aotearoa New Zealand’s freshwater systems, the extensive struggle by Maori for recognition of Maori traditional knowledge, rights and responsibilities regarding waterways, and the development of contemporary Maori models for freshwater monitoring and management. Treaty settlements and other legislative initiatives have also catalyzed changes in freshwater management. Faced with catastrophic climatic impacts on freshwater systems and implications for the wellbeing of species and communities, questions of how to ethically manage freshwater are critical. Maori freshwater ethics, values and practices provide a model of renewal and possibility, although one that is not without contest.

Keywords: Freshwater Governance, Maori Freshwater Ethics and Values, Maori Traditional Knowledge, Aotearoa New Zealand Freshwater

Suggested Citation

Stewart-Harawira, Makere, Troubled Waters: Maori Values and Ethics for Freshwater Management and New Zealand’s Fresh Water Crisis (May 20, 2020). Stewart-Harawira, Makere, Troubled Waters: Maori Values and Ethics for Freshwater Management and New Zealand’s Fresh Water Crisis. Wires Water (accepted May 20, 2020), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3630638

Makere Stewart-Harawira (Contact Author)

University of Alberta ( email )

Faculty of Education
Edmonton, Alberta T6G2G5
Canada

HOME PAGE: http://https://apps.ualberta.ca/directory/person/makere/edit

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