Within Te Ao Māori there are a set of common values which denote the way Māori connect with the world. These values include whakapapa (genealogy), mana (authority, right, power), tapu (sacred or controlled), noa (common, open), tikanga (practice) and māuri (life force).

These values inform how Māori place themselves in the world, and through this awareness are able to recognise the connection they have with other animate and inanimate things.  

When Tāne separated Papatūānuku (Earth Mother) and Ranginui (Sky Father), Ranginui shed tears of grief.  The tears of Ranginui eventually filled the deep caverns, the valleys, and the great basins which are now seas. Freshwater whakapapa can be traced to creation and the attributes it contains have been spiritually woven through the course of human activity. For this reason freshwater is a taonga, and Māori are the kaitiaki (guardians).  

Te Māuri O Te Wai

Māuri, or life force, can be described as the flow of energy.  All things have a particular flow of energy which influences their  nature and characteristics. Freshwater has an energy flow which influences the nature and characteristic of a water-body.  Sometimes the differences are tangible: from a swift flowing river to a wide expansive lake,you can perceive and physically appreciate the māuri contained within those water bodies.

Māori recognised that the māuri in a water-body (or the absence of māuri) influenced its characteristics, and for this reason gave names to types of water:

  • Wai-ora (pure water).
  • Wai-māori (fresh water).
  • Wai-kino (polluted).
  • Wai-mate (dead water).
  • Wai-tai (saltwater or water from ocean).
  • Wai-ariki (hot springs or curative waters).

Understanding the nature, shape, form and quality of the water will give you sense of the māuri present within that water body. Undertaking certain types of activities will affect mauri, or in some cases, dissipate it. Recognising that the energy flows in a water body are dependent upon how we behave and use the water resource is a fundamental part of the way Māori view the world. 


Council’s Te Mana o te Wai commitment

Central government has recognised the national significance of freshwater and Te Mana o te Wai through the National Policy Statement For Freshwater Management 2014.

The Policy Statement requires Council to consult and engage with our communities, to set objectives for the state of fresh water bodies in its region and to set limits to meet these objectives. That includes requirements to:

  • engage with Tāngata Whenua to identify the values they have for freshwater.  
  • involve Iwi & Hapū in decision-making and management of freshwater.
  • determine the appropriate set of methods for the objectives and limits.

We’ve embedded our Te Mana o te Wai commitments and wider obligations to Māori into the strategic framework and Long Term Plan that guide our work. We’re using a range of tools to deliver on those including; consultation, co-governance arrangements, relationship agreements, joint projects, iwi and hapū management plans, plan and policy changes, māuri monitoring and a matauranga Māori framework.