Reciprocal relationships include
mataawaka and all people in the context of Tāmaki Makaurau.
Whakapapa relations of ira atua, whakapapa rights of mana whenua, and customary rights to Māori. The point of difference is the mana whenua relationship to the natural environment that gives mana whenua the obligation.
Mana Whenua Kaitiaki Forum takes the view that our rapidly changing climate and its impacts tell us that we need to approach the issues in a fundamentally different way. The forum calls for the acknowledgement of a worldview that places the environment before people, to coalesce in harmony, in and of service to one another.
The forum recognises the danger and challenges of climate change and is committed to working with
marae, central and local government, and other agencies and stakeholders to keep warming below 1.5 degrees.
In particular, the forum is concerned for:
- the responsibility of mana whenua to care for the large and growing population of Tāmaki Makaurau
- the specific policy focus that such a large population requires
- rapid population growth
- the vulnerability of human and ecological systems as climate change impacts increase.
Alongside these concerns the forum sees the opportunity for Māori to participate in the move to a
blue-green economy and will actively pursue these opportunities.
Kaitiakitanga for mana whenua is centred on the symbiotic whakapapa relationship with the natural environment. As
tāngata our responsibilities to
kaitiaki in the ira tangata context, we become the human voice to the atua through the
Kaitiakitanga is the ethics and practice of protection and conservation of the natural environment and the resources within it, on which people depend. It is considered an obligation of mana whenua to care for their lands and waters to which they whakapapa (have a genealogical relationship). For this reason, kaitiakitanga is concerned with maintaining a natural and appropriate balance.
We need to understand the role of people in the world within the balanced framework of both ira atua and ira tangata and the significance of the practice of
kaitiakitanga for everyone. Stories, traditions, philosophies and values passed down from generation to generation underpin this ao Māori view.
Māori do not see themselves as separate from the natural world, rather that they are related through whakapapa, whereby all elements, living or otherwise descend from
Ranginui and their children.
Accordingly, the Māori worldview is distinct from a western one, in which mankind has dominion over the world. For Māori, the use of natural resources is subject to kinship obligations and thus a symbiotic and reciprocal relationship exists.
Māori have had to bear the negative impacts of colonisation, westernisation and urbanisation for over 160 years within Tāmaki Makaurau.
Any response to climate change needs to consider the impacts on Māori and, in particular, mana whenua.
Our collective response to climate change needs to enable sustainable circular Māori economic development and growth and encourage innovation across Māori business ecosystems.
A key outcome is to focus on lifting whānau Māori from poverty and transform the conditions of wellbeing with whānau.
Māori knowledge systems and practices hold a key to climate change response.
Mātauranga Māori is community-based and collective knowledge that offers valuable insights that complement western scientific data with chronological and landscape specific precision and detail. This is critical to verifying climate models and evaluating change scenarios.
Māori knowledge systems and practice provide a strong foundation for community-based adaption and
Mana whenua have been able to observe and interpret change through the environment within Tāmaki Makaurau over many generations.
Mai i te rangi, ki te whenua, ko tātou, te ira tangata kei waenga. / From the heavens, to the earth, and then, there we are, the human element in the middle
We, te tangata, the human element, inhabit the space between Ranginui and Papatūānuku.
Our space was created by their children. They form the natural realms and the life-forms that inhabit them. These elements are connected by whakapapa that weaves through their
wairua. These connections and whakapapa surround, extend and give rise to
tangata whenua, the human element, and our individual experience in the world.
Ira is the word representing these connections that link toward an element and the identity that comes into existence through this whakapapa. Ira tangata is the life principle of the human element, our genetic code, our genes and the spiritual flow of energy and matter from which our individual consciousness emerges.
Each of these connections and patterns are unique, they are the products of the place from which they emerge and remain closely connected. They become the people of the place and the connections that ground them to the whenua. These individuals act in a social, political, economic and spiritual environment, behaving in predictable ways. They have a personality and their character is known to others. However, individuals can also make decisions. They have space for free will, to develop their own preferences and act upon them.
These decisions and actions are not always consistent with the whakapapa from which they are born, or their kaitiaki. As kaitiaki, the human element in the world is an active guardian. It is our obligation and whakapapa that we should nurture and protect the physical and spiritual wellbeing of the natural systems that gave birth to us and supports us.
We are charged with this responsibility until future generations can carry it forward. To care, nurture, connect and safeguard the natural world, the human element must understand our lineage from the natural world, our position within the natural world, and the relationships that weave us into it. This is a deliberate positioning of the human element as being interrelated with everything within the cosmos. It recognises that the human element has a role within the cosmos, but it is not beyond reproach.
The human element has a role as kaitiaki, but if we do not perform that role, the mauri of the spiritual and physical relationships they were born to will dissipate along with its mana. We are subject to the mauri and mana of our kaitiakitanga in the cosmos, and we are mortal. If our kaitiaki has insufficient mauri and mana, our role in the cosmos will fade and vanish, our whakapapa will be broken and lost. The cosmos will continue and the relationships amongst the natural realms will adjust in our absence.
Whakapapa connects all of us, tying us all together. It reminds us of our mortal position in the natural world and how its relationships constitute and sustain us. This reminder needs to be acted upon if we are to continue to have our
tūrangawaewae and for humanity to thrive.
Our environmental and sustainability challenges in our ever-changing world, specifically climate change, tell how our behaviour is inconsistent with our kaitiaki responsibilities. The whakapapa and mauri that hold us and our shared ecology together is 60 being degraded. This risks our existence as we have known it. We must remember what is important and we must change our behaviour or we and the world we know will be lost.
The tools to help us change our behaviour are where we left them. They are in our
whakataukī. The stories and legends about the relationships that bind us to the natural world, of our dependencies and vulnerabilities, our position and role as caretakers and kaitiaki. The language we use and what we tell ourselves and others is important. The stories and narratives we share with each other and the values and meanings they carry weigh on us and shape us. They shape who we are, what we value, and the choices we make. This behaviour then influences the behaviour of those near to us, and those near to them.
These values ricochet about people, evolving and creating a culture and humanity that individuals identify with and feel they belong to. These are paradigms and epistemologies become mātauranga and become the whakapapa of a people. They are
taonga. Importantly, how this ancestral knowledge becomes interpreted in each valley, coastline and community is specific to the whakapapa of that place.
Mana whenua share high-level whakapapa, but how this relates and connects to their own identity and place is unique and shared through their own pūrākau and whakataukī. This grounding is important as the connections and whakapapa that weave each community and whānau into the natural world are unique, and so must be their pūrākau.
Ira tangata offers modern humanity a paradigm through which it might rediscover itself, its position, its role and the relationships that weave it into the natural world. Ira tangata is ancient mātauranga and wisdom. It complements modern philosophies and evidence-based forms of knowing that have dominated the last few centuries of humanity’s industrialisation and its subsequent discovery of environmental disaster and the emergency of our rapidly changing global and local climates. Ira tangata is an important part of our change, but it needs governing support.
tikanga and whakataunga, our rules, regulations and legislation needs to support the framework. They need to facilitate its proliferation while consolidating the progress our people and culture make within it. As our kaitiaki strengthens, our rules need to ensure that this strength is the new normal and the benchmark from which further mauri is fostered.
There will be times when our leaders need to decide and act to protect and enhance mauri before everybody is ready. Actions to keep climate change below 1.5°C of warming and to adapt to its impacts may be one of these times.