Ngā Ariki Kaipūtahi: Maui.Tech case study

An iwi/Māori-led climate change case study, produced as part of the Maui.Tech project

Ngā Ariki Kaipūtahi: Te Mauri o te Wai

This video case study from the rohe of Te Tairāwhiti revolves around the environmental challenges faced by Ngā Ariki Kaipūtahi iwi, and discusses the cultural and environmental values held by their iwi, with a focus on the responsibility to protect the whenua and water for future generations.

This video case study was produced as part of the Maui.Tech project. Read more about Maui.Tech.


  • Owen Lloyd (Ngā Ariki Kaipūtahi)

Click to read transcript

Owen Lloyd  00:09 
In our Iwi we have a seven-generation principle. I've got to stand accountable to the seven generations to come. It's not about now, it's about my moko's. And it's about me facing eye to eye to my tipuna's. 

Ko Maungahaumia te Maunga, Ko Mangatū te awa, Ko Mangatū te Marae, engari taku marae e noho ana au, Ko Whetuariki. [Maungahaumia is the mountain, Mangatū is the awa, Mangatū is the marae, however, I reside at Whetuariki marae.]

Trevor Moeke [Narrator]  00:45 
A stone's throw away from Gisborne, known as Tūranga-Nui-a-Kiwa, is the Waipaoa river catchment. Home to several important tributaries, including the Wharekopae to the northwest, which is fed by the Mangatū River, home to the Ngā Ariki Kaiputahi, and the Waikohu River to the northeast. 

Owen Lloyd  01:21 
Kei reira e noho ana te taniwha a to matou kuia a Hine-Te-Ariki. [Our ancestress taniwha, Hine-Te-Ariki lives there.] The long grass that grows in that river is the memory of her hair. Taniwha was one of these things that was part and parcel with ngā kaitiaki o tōu mātou awa [the guardians of our river], Kaua e pēnei, kaua e pērā ko te mea ka haramai te taniwha, ka patu i a koe [and we were informed not to do certain things, if we did not heed the taniwha would appear and take you away].

Our people were environmentalists mai rano, ko te mea kei mōhio rātou [from inception, as our ancestors knew how to behave within their environment]. Ka mahi kino ki te whenua ki te taiao. Ka mate te tangata. [If we treated the the land and the environment badly, then people became the cost was human life.] We're starting to see the fruits of that now. As our land is dying and getting sick, so are our people.  

Trevor Moeke  02:11 
Like the Waiapu River catchment to the north, sediment from landslides and exposed gullies is choking the flow of water across the Waipaoa and its tributaries.  

Owen Lloyd  02:28 
As a result of the farming practices of the English and the settlers, by denuding our land of the forests, it's very young geologically, and therefore, thereby very prone to erosion. 

And as a result, we have the two probably the largest landslides in the southern hemisphere, as I think Attenborough described it back in the ‘80s. It's gotten even bigger than that since. And of course, we're running out of water.  

Our eels are getting sick. We found eels dying in Awapuni swamp, and Awapuni streams, just floating around dead. That tells us that something's wrong with our water.  

Ko te mea ko ngā mahi o ngā policies, me ngā ture o te kāwana, koira te take, kei te hinga tō mātou ngahere, kei te paru haere tou mātou awa, ko te mea i ō rātou ture, e whakaaea ki te tangata ki te whakahaere i a rātou mahi kūare.  [The issue is the policies, the laws of the government, this is the cause, our forest has been sacrificed, our rivers are becoming more and more polluted, again the issue resides with the law that continues to allow people to carry on with disregard. ] When you talk about our waters and its importance, the whole of the Tūranga flats is reliant on the purity of the water in the catchment of Mangatū. Our drinking water comes from Waingake but the rest of, the main line of water to feed the land, comes from the Mangatū. So that kind of gives indication of how important our rivers are, and our waters are. 

Well, I think any change of the climate is going to create an unbalance. You know just a deviation of one or two degrees, it has to have an impact on our, on our land, which has an impact on our food. And on our food, has an impact on us. 

We depended on our environment for our kai, our air, our water, and all the other things that are part and parcel of our culture. Water has always been one of the key components. The old people used to talk about how the rivers - mullet used to come all the way up to the Whatatu/Whatatutu. And also whitebait used to come up there. But now, none of that.  

The only clean rivers that we've got coming, it's some of the tributaries like the Urukokomuka.  We are embarking on a project now of trying to recover our waters. The mauri is an important aspect which we have worked with the council to determine what we call the Mauri Compass. And so we've designed a Mauri Compass on how we can measure the wairua, the mauri of the wai. 

The tuna [eel] is seen in terms of our Mauri Compass that we've been developing with Tūranga-nui is the tuna. He's the apex. The tuna is strong, the tuna is well, ka pai te wai.  

But at this point in time, you're lucky to catch a eel in the Mangatū or the Waipaoa. We catch it in the wai in the Waikohu; it's been fed from another area, which is not as erosion prone as the Mangatū.  

It's up to each Iwi to determine what's important to them, in their rohe, to determine te kaha o te mauri [the vitality of its essence]; but for us, that's a tangible measuring process and system to say Ko te mauri te mea nui, ka ora te mauri, ka ora te tangata [the vitality is of most importance, if the vitality of the environmental essence is alive and well, then only people will live healthy.]