Environment Southland

Ngai tahu ki Murihiku values

Water is a taonga. Water plays a unique role in the traditional culture and economy of Māori. Without water no living thing, plant, fish or animal can survive.

Water and rivers are the ‘living blood’ of Papatūānuku (earth mother) and are held in reverence. Cultural practices and the health and wellbeing of Te Ao Māori depends on the ability for Kaitiakitanga (as guardian and advocate) to be expressed in the everyday lives of our people and communities.

Ngāi Tahu ki Murihiku strive for the highest possible standard of water quality that is characteristic of a particular place and waterway. This means we want to aim for drinking water quality in waterways we once drank from, safe water quality in water we once used for bathing or swimming, water quality capable of sustaining healthy mahinga kai in waters we used to source kai.

Water is held in the highest esteem because the welfare of the life that it contains determines the welfare of the people who rely on those resources. Ensuring that water that is meant for drinking is of drinking water quality and that water where mahinga kai is harvested, is safe to eat from and the water where our kids swim is safe for them to swim in, is our Kaitiaki responsibility as Ngāi Tahu ki Murihiku.

It is the aspiration of Ngāi Tahu ki Murihiku that by recognizing cultural values alongside scientific values that freshwater management outcomes will improve the quality of freshwater for all people.

Cultural values and indicators and values centre on the ability of the waterway to support life and the fitness of water for cultural uses.

Interviews with Murihiku iwi identified three overarching values. These values form the basis of reporting for iwi concerns.

  • Te Mana o te Wai: The role of valuing the living expression of Māori cultural Mauri (energy and flow of life force) of water bodies and taonga species. Te Mana o te Wai is recognised in the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management as: the health and wellbeing of water bodies; the health and wellbeing of people and the health and wellbeing of the environment. Te Mana o te Wai recognises that values setting within the community needs to underpin all regional authorities’ conservation and environmental management work.
  • Kaitiakitanga: The actions of Māori cultural guardianship, advocacy and protection.
  • Tino Rangatiratanga: The exercise of the Treaty of Waitangi, statutory rulings and cultural expression in the protection and restoration of the environment such that the social, health and economic development of the Māori community is integrated.

For more information on the Ngai Tahu ki Murihiku values, read the report Wai – Ngai Tahu ki Murihiku.