Mana over Money or Money over Mana?
E tipu e rea mō ngā rā o tō ao
Ko tō ringa ki ngā rākau a te Pākehā
Hei ora mō te tinana
Ko tō ngākau ki ngā taonga a ō tīpuna Māori
Hei tikitiki mō tō māhunga
Ko tō wairua ki tō atua, nāna nei ngā mea katoa
Grow and branch forth for the days destined to you,
May your hand master the modern ways and tools of Pākehā for the welfare of your body,
Your heart to the treasures of your ancestors as adornments for your brow,
Your spirit to God, who made all things.
— Tā Apirana Ngata
Tā Apirana Ngata believed that for us to grow as a unified nation, we must work together in partnership, participation and protection, enhancing the social, cultural and spiritual wellbeing of land and people.
On the 6th February 1840, Te Tiriti o Waitangi was signed between Māori and The Crown. The principles from Tā Apirana Ngata resonates with Te Tiriti, which ensures (but is not confined to) partnership, participation and protection specifically for and of Māori.
Over 179 years partnership, participation and protection has slowly and gradually been recognised. However, many of our leading institutions and sectors are still yet to recognise and understand Te Tiriti, its purpose and principles. From the inception of Te Tiriti, Māori have lost 95% of traditional lands, language, customs, traditions and been stripped of their identity. The land is a representation of who we are as individuals, whanau, hapu and iwi Māori. The land that remains, face battles against the pressures and the power of urbanisation, specifically land which is of national and international significance.
The three principles of partnership, participation and protection need to be better understood if we are to progress moving forward as a unified nation. Establishing partnerships looks to form genuine relationships with iwi Māori, ensuring that their values and identity are retained within the environments they live in. Participation is to involve communities and create in-depth discussions. Lastly, protection is to ensure that peoples values, principles and beliefs, especially those of Te Ao Māori (Māori worldview). For Māori, the protection over their lands is important for the wellbeing and identity of future generations.
The decisions that we make today will continue to impact and influence the lives of people today and future generations. If we don’t start shifting our ways of thinking and approaches, we will continue to exploit not just the environment but our people. This may continue to perpetuate distrust and injustice which may inherently cause further intergenerational trauma from being on the wrong side of history. The question that we as a nation need to ask ourselves is do we preserve and protect the whenua or lose it at the cost of corporate greed?
Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland) is a prime example of how significant cultural landscapes and iwi Māori have suffered for the benefits of corporate and institutions. Maunga (mountain), awa (rivers/streams/waterways), moana (ocean/seas) wāhi (sacred sites) and whenua (land) have all been desecrated by our hunger for urban life.
Kohimarama/Takaparawhā or Bastion Point, is an example of how money was considered over mana. Kohimarama/Takaparawhā is a significant cultural landscape which overlooks Te Waitematā. Ngāti Whatua are the kaitiaki of these lands, which provides an abundance of resources for cultivation and fishing. From 1840 to 1950 land alienation around Kohimarama/Takaparawhā was increasingly prominent. In 1976 the Crown announced that they were to develop these ancestral lands, selling them to the highest bidder. Ngāti Whatua took immediate action occupying and constructing a wā kāinga (living village). The occupancy lasted for 507 days and on the 25th May 1978, 800 police and personnel forcibly removed 222 protesters. They destroyed the temporary wā kāinga and maara kai (food gardens). The occupancy of Ngāti Whatua on Kohimarama/Takaparawhā, highlights the issues which still face our country today where our preservations of cultural and ancestral lands have to contend with corporate profit and institutional greed.
Ihumaatao, in South Auckland, is a current example of how we value and appreciate cultural landscapes. Ihumaatao highlights how corporations consider and value land for its profitable potential rather than the social and cultural paradigms. The site covers an area of 32 hectares and is apart of the wider historic Ōtuataua Stonefields Historic Reserve. Yet, permission’s been granted for a major housing development to be built by Fletcher Building.
The land was originally confiscated in 1863 by central and local government who took the mana of iwi, awa, moana and maunga, everything valuable and irreplaceable of mana whenua.
Ihumaatao is one of the longest and continually occupied settlements and landscapes in Tāmaki Makaurau. The tiny village dates back to the first ancestors Hape and Kaiwhare who established the first ahi kā (living presence). The proposed development will eradicate ‘Te Mauri o Te Whenua’ (the spiritual and interconnected ethos of land and people) the deep-rooted history, kōrero tuku iho (intergenerational stories) and taonga tuku iho (prized gifts).
In a recent press release from the Save Our Unique Landscape campaign (SOUL) co-founder Qiane Matata-Sipu acknowledges and recognises: “Our identity, wellbeing and survival depend on our relationship with this continuous landscape. Fletcher’s development threatens our wāhi tapu (sacred lands), our maunga (volcanoes), our ancestral burial caves, our river, and our harbour. Ihumaatao has suffered enough and given enough for the greater good of our city. We will work for as long as it takes to achieve justice for Ihumaatao.”
Matata-Sipu also claims that “Fletcher continues to ignore the interests of iwi and hapū who have strong, enduring, legitimate, recognised and centuries-old ties with Ihumaatao. Our people expect to be properly consulted about, and included in, all decision-making processes on this matter.”
Fletcher’s residential and development chief executive, Steve Evans, told Māori Television that “Te Akitai deferred to Te Kawerau-ā-Maki and we've dealt with Te Kawerau-ā-Maki for the last three years. They've worked with us and got some really strong attributes in the development that reflect Māori Architecture and Māori principles as well as providing a great solution that respects the nature of the Stonefields that are already there”.
So why should we care? What are our roles as landscape architects? How do we ensure partnership, participation and protection of Māori?
These questions are important to identify because it is evident that there is a massive gap that remains between Māori communities, the design professions, developers, and the wider sector. New Zealand Institute of Landscape Architects Tuia Pito Ora recognises that landscape architects: “play an increasingly important role in addressing some of the great issues of our day, including climate change, sustainable communities, water quality and innovative housing. This is not just the profession of the future - but the profession for a better future. Tangata whenua believe that every place and object is imbued with its own spirit, or life-force - the Mauri”
Considering the level of complexities, at the end of the day, the land and our future generations will continue to suffer. Within Tāmaki Makaurau, mana whenua continue to fight for their rights, recognition and protection of Te Mauri o Te Whenua. As a profession, we need to reconsider the roles and responsibilities we play regarding design and cultural advocacy.
If we are to provide a better future, then we need to understand the principles of iwi Māori through partnerships, participation and protection. As a challenge, we need to understand Te Tiriti in its entirety and the high importance of cultural preservation, landscape values and Māori values.
Are we going to continue to shape the places and environments that we live in, that supports mana over money or money over mana?