Listening to the Kaitiaki: consequences of the loss of abundance and biodiversity of coastal ecosystems in Aotearoa New Zealand
Dick, Jonathan; Stephenson, Janet; Kirikiri, Rauru; Moller, Henrik; Turner, Rachel
Interviews with 22 kaitiaki (environmental guardians) from 14 tribes spread throughout the North Island of New Zealand revealed a common concern that the abundance and diversity of sea foods have declined along much of the coastline over the past 30–50 years. While Western conservationists have tended to emphasise ecological impacts, kaitiaki are concerned at both ecological and cultural consequences of the losses. Cultural consequences include severance of links between people and the food species, reduced connections between people in the community, erosion of ways that kinship is maintained, severed transmission of cultural knowledge, and impaired health and tribal development. More fundamentally, the cultural- ecological degradation transgresses fundamental concepts of Maori worldview in ways that undermine cultural and individual identity. Such cultural consequences should not be overlooked in assessments of the impacts of loss of biodiversity and species abundance. Kaitiaki are now seeking to restore the health and abundance of mahinga kai (food gathering sites) to simultaneously accelerate restoration of nature and culture. Recognising these wider implications of loss, and supporting the diversity of approaches to environmental management might lessen cross- cultural conflict, helping to build a broader front of sustained collective action for restoration.
Publisher: Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga
Rights Statement: © 2012 MAI Journal is published by Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga
Keywords: Maori; indigenous; mahinga kai; cultural use; intergenerational knowledge; indigenous knowledge
Research Type: Journal Article