A new collection of practical resources aim to guide the implementation of Te Mana o te Wai, the concept that puts the wellbeing of water itself as the priority for freshwater management under the National Policy Statement on Freshwater 2020.
The guidance and learning resources aim to help mana whenua (iwi or hapū who have customary rights to make decisions about an area) and people in regional authorities work together to develop policy that prioritises the wellbeing of water, ensuring this work is led by mana whenua and will improve the health of our rivers, lakes, aquifers and estuaries.
One set of guidelines is to support the upskilling of mana whenua to understand the current state of their water and define their aspirations, local context and preferred monitoring methods, so that regional regulations can be implemented in a way that truly prioritises and restores the health of water.
The other set of guidance is for people in regional authorities and government. It includes a training module with teaching notes, references and presentations.
Additional resources to support the implementation of Te Mana o te Wai include a set of Te Mana o te Wai factsheets and a set of four iwi-led Te Mana o te Wai case studies.
“We know that many are struggling to understand and give effect to this mātauranga Māori centred concept. Te Mana o Te Wai represents a paradigm shift”— Tina Porou (Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Ngāi Tāmanuhiri, Ngāti Rakaipaaka)
Developed with funding from the Our Land and Water National Science Challenge, the guidance and learning resources were developed by a group led by Tina Porou (Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Ngāi Tāmanuhiri and Ngāti Rakaipaaka), director of environmental planning agency Poipoia Ltd. The group brought together mātauranga Māori experts from around the country to provide input on the national implementation of Te Mana o te Wai.
The principle of Te Mana o te Wai reflects the paramount importance of the health and wellbeing of water. “We know that many are struggling to understand and give effect to this mātauranga Māori centred concept,” says Ms Porou. “Te Mana o Te Wai represents a paradigm shift. It speaks to the need to re-balance and approach freshwater management from first principles – what does the water need to be healthy and well; what does the water need to sustain itself?”
“Once that is provided for, then we can determine what is available – in terms of both quality and quantity – for essential human health needs (the second right) and the social, economic, and cultural well-being of people and communities (the third right). This approach puts te mauri o te wai at the heart of all decision-making.”
To implement this transformation in a way that has integrity, Te Mana o Te Wai must be defined by mana whenua for each waterbody and freshwater ecosystem.
“We have created a range of tools focused on how iwi and hapū can lead conversations and change in their own takiwā, to gain more capacity and capability on the opportunities for mana whenua to partner with councils,” says Ms Porou. “Case studies from Raukawa, Ngati Rangiwewehi, Ngati Porou and Nga Iwi o Te Tau Ihu greatly informed this work and we are grateful for their contributions.”
“The next part of our journey is to work directly with hapū and iwi to build a national network of kaimahi who are experts in Te Mana o te Wai, to support councils to actively partner with mana whenua, and to ensure the way we measure the health and wellbeing of our waterways is integrated strongly with mātauranga Māori.”
All resources, collaborators and project information can be found at ourlandandwater.weaveclient.site/temanaotewai. Key resources include: