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    Māori have a special relationship with water in all its forms – it is taonga.

    Water is a taonga to Māori. The health of iwi is considered to be closely linked with the health of their local water. Explore some of the values and connections between iwi, wai and awa and the work of Waikato Māori to look after their taonga.

    To use this interactive, move your mouse or finger over any of the labelled boxes and click to obtain more information.

    Background image of fern against Waikato Awa, Sebastian Vervenne, 123RF Ltd

    Transcript

    Wai ora

    Water is the basis for all life. It is taonga, something to be cherished and looked after. For Māori, wai holds mauri – a spiritual life force. To keep the mauri intact, we need to look after the water. Māori have classifications for wai that describe its qualities, properties and uses.

    The following resources provide information about wai, its mauri and the different ways Māori use and classify wai. The videos highlight the special connections between tangata whenua and their local awa.

    Select here to view the video transcript and copyright information.

    Acknowledgement: The University of Waikato Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato and Waikato Regional Council

    Ki uta ki tai

    Ki uta ki tai refers to the concept of mountains to the sea – a whole-systems approach to the sustainable management of water. The water catchment influences the biodiversity and ecology of stream and river systems.

    The following resources explore what water catchments are and why they are important.

    Select here to view the video transcript and copyright information.

    Acknowledgement: The University of Waikato Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato and Waikato Regional Council

    Mahinga kai

    Mahinga kai refers to traditional food sources. Local water bodies were sources of kaiawa such as tuna, īnanga, kōura and pūhā. Maintaining or restoring water quality is crucial for the provision and harvest of mahinga kai.

    The following resources have more information about mahinga kai.

    These resources have information about ngā ika taketake wai māori – Aotearoa’s freshwater fish, many of which are mahinga kai. New Zealand’s freshwater fish – introduction is an overview of the resources, with links to the resources in te reo Māori and English. Resources in te reo Māori are listed individually below.

    Acknowledgement: Stella McQueen

    Mātauranga Māori

    Mātauranga Māori is a modern term for the combined knowledge of Polynesian ancestors and the experiences of Māori living in the environment of Aotearoa passed down through generations often in the form of waiata, stories, legends and tikanga. The term takes many forms, such as language (te reo), education and learning (mātauranga), traditional environmental knowledge (taonga tuku iho, mātauranga o te taiao), traditional knowledge of cultural practice, such as healing and medicines (rongoā), fishing (hī ika) and cultivation (mahinga kai).

    Mātauranga Māori, as a knowledge base, adds significant understanding to water quality and restoration practices.

    Learn more about mātauranga Māori with these resources:

    Select here to view the video transcript and copyright information.

    Acknowledgement: The University of Waikato Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato and Waikato Regional Council

    Te mana o te wai

    The Ministry for the Environment notes that the concept of te mana o te wai “reflects the recognition of fresh water as a natural resource whose health is integral to the social, cultural, economic and environmental well-being of communities”.

    Iwi and hapū play an active part to improve water quality within their rohe and takiwā. These resources highlight some of the projects within the Waikato region along with activities that encourage students to think about river taonga, the past and the future.

    Select here to view the video transcript and copyright information.

    Acknowledgement: The University of Waikato Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato and Waikato Regional Council

    Acknowledgement

    This interactive has been developed in partnership with the Waikato Regional Council as part of the Rivers and Us resource.

    Rights: The University of Waikato Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato and Waikato Regional Council Published 13 March 2020 Size: 620 KB Referencing Hub media