Maori knowledge and tools

maori house

Māori arrived in New Zealand from Polynesia, and the Polynesian way of life evolved into a distinct Māori culture that is inextricably linked with the environment, an integral part of life, customs, and values. For more than 800 years, traditional knowledge (mātauranga Māori) has been handed down from ancestors (tūpuna, tīpuna), rangatira, kaumātua, kuia, tohunga, and knowledgeable people. Mātauranga Māori, as with other indigenous peoples’ knowledge systems, has an important role in contemporary resource management.

Mana whenua groups and organisations have significant relationships with the environment as a result of generations of reliance for a range of spiritual and tangible reasons. However, minimal engagement with resource management agencies, a varying awareness of national legislation and local policies on issues of significance to them, and low levels of involvement in environmental research impacts on their ability to respond to the numerous environmental issues confronting them on an almost daily basis.

Contemporary Māori knowledge on resource management and principles of kaitiakitanga can be woven together with science and Māori-specific methodologies for assessing environmental quality to develop a practical resource-management framework. This framework can act as a navigational tool to provide the relevant signposts to underpin effective Māori engagement in natural resource management.