Papatuanuku, Earth Mother: indigenous knowledge in 21st century soil management.

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Author: Robert McGowan
Date: Aug. 2021
From: Soil Research(Vol. 59, Issue 6)
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing
Document Type: Article
Length: 3,875 words
Lexile Measure: 1080L

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Abstract :

On 20 March 2017 the New Zealand parliament passed the Te Awa Tupua (Whanganui River Claims Settlement) Bill which established the Whanganui River as a legal 'person' with all of the rights, powers, duties, and liabilities of the same. The Act endorses and illustrates how Maori perceive their relationship to the natural world. The passing of the Act challenged the river people to restore their ancestral river to good health. Changes in land use beginning in the later part of the 19th century had seen soil fertility decline, water quality deteriorate and the soils that sustained life in its catchment increasingly washed out to sea. These impacts profoundly changed the lifestyles of the people that belonged to it. Describing the issues facing the river iwi (tribes) and their response to them will help illustrate traditional understandings relating to the river, the whenua (the land) and the life sustaining capacity of the soil. It also serves to demonstrate the relevance of traditional knowledge to addressing the current ecological crisis. This viewpoint focuses on key concepts from Maori understandings of the natural world that relate to the primary themes of this conference and suggest how they can contribute towards deepening and broadening our knowledge of soils and what needs to be done to sustain them. In particular the concept of 'mauri' will be explored and how that relates to the capacity of soils to support the life that belongs there. Maori, and many traditional peoples, regard the whole landscape as essentially interdependent and consider that the wellness of any part of it, be it soils, vegetation, water quality, etc., can only be understood within the context of the whole network of connections that sustain life. The challenge for researchers, from an indigenous perspective, is to be mindful of the 'whole' while focusing on the areas of their particular expertise. Keywords: Whenua, Mauri, Te Awa Tupua, Papatuanuku, Karakia, Tuakana and Teina.

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A679284887