The hui focused on the Te Aranga Māori Cultural Landscape Principles: Mana, Whakapapa, Mauri Tu, Taiao, Mahi Toi, Tohu and Ahi Kā. While there are many principles of Tikanga Māori that can be applied to our work, I could see a lot of our projects at Perception Planning already meeting the Te Aranga principles.
“Māori culture and identity highlights Aotearoa New Zealand’s point of difference in the world and offers up significant design opportunities that can benefit us all.” - Auckland City Design Manual
The Te Aranga principles are a set of outcome-based principles founded on intrinsic Maori cultural values, intended to provide a clear process on how to positively engage with iwi as mana whenua, and shape the environment to highlight Māori culture and identity.
The key objective of the principles is to enhance the protection, reinstatement, development and articulation of our cultural landscapes enabling all of us to connect to and deepen our ‘sense of place’.
For me, seeing examples of using Te Aranga Māori Principles in design gives these projects more meaning and a greater sense of place of what it means to live in Aotearoa. The hui certainly challenged my thinking on how to better address Māori Cultural Landscape values in landscape assessment and planning.
I thought I'd share some of our recent projects and how we've implemented each of the principles:
Application: We believe this is particularly important for any design or planning in the public realm. Reserve management plans, for instance: recognising that while the public space may now be in crown or council ownership, the reserve may have been a very important site of significance to Māori prior to European colonisation.
We have found that recognising and respecting the status of iwi and hapu as mana whenua through reserve management plans leading on to appropriate interpretation signage and symbolism, enables reserve users to be more aware of the cultural importance of the place. In locations where tourism and public use is high, the hope is that this leads to more respect for the place and the environment.
We are currently working on a plan for a reserve that will be managed by iwi and council. We believe that this will be an important step in recognising the local iwi as mana whenua of the reserve. We look forward to updating you as this project progresses.
Application: Keeping with the theme of reserve and conservation management, we have found that an important step to achieving the principle of Whakapapa is to ensure Māori names are used, particularly where they have been superseded with more recent names.
An example of this was our recommendation to Council to change the name of a Taupō reserve as part of developing its reserve management plan. The reserve formerly known as Reid's Farm was once an important waka landing site adjacent to the Waikato River. The site is still used today as a place for recreational kayakers to access the river.
As part of developing the reserve management plan, we strongly recommended to the council that its name be changed to reflect the cultural history of the site. As a result of consultation with iwi and the wider community, Reid’s Farm is now called Hipapatua reserve. While it will take some time for visitors to get used to the new name, we believe the community made an important change to acknowledge the historical significance of the site to iwi. This name change also ensures that the whakapapa of the site is better understood, and the history of the site is valued and respected.
Application: Our work philosophy is centred on sustainable protection, restoration and enhancement of the natural environment. From a landscape planning perspective, a key criterion for taking on jobs is: does this proposed activity have the potential to achieve an overall better environmental outcome?
My work tends to be on native and indigenous habitat restoration. This of course needs to be done with balancing the potential impact of a proposed development, but for me it’s not just how the proposal might look in the landscape, or its local character. Is it achieving a wider overall cultural and environmental outcome that might otherwise not have been achieved without the development occurring?
We’ve been working on a rural subdivision assessment in Rotorua where a bonus lot can be provided for in turn for fencing and riparian planting of ephemeral streams, gullies and waterways. So long as landscape and natural values are maintained or protected as appropriate, the subdivision brings overall greater environmental outcomes than its current situation of grazed pasture and unprotected waterways. We are keen to hear about more examples of projects that seek to protect, restore or enhance natural environments.
Application: We met with members of an iwi trust closely affiliated with the Whanganui River, following its recent protection with legal personhood, Te Awa Tupuna. Section 6 of the RMA requires that Māori culture and traditions must be provided for as part of resource management. The trust wanted to better understand how their freshwater values fit within with the RMA, and how their values and the RMA can help each other and work together to protect environmental health.
Helen Marr, Director at Perception Planning, asked the trust to talk us through Te mana o te wai (the health and mauri of water, and the environment and people attached to it) and what it means to them. It was a free and open whiteboard discussion that ended up looking something like this:
Application: This is a principle that I see huge potential for more of a role in our landscape planning and resource management planning. Expressing these narratives in our planning work may seem to some like telling myths and legends. I believe, particularly for degraded or highly modified landscapes (which is the majority of New Zealand), that iwi/hapu narratives can tell a very important environmental story to enable better appreciation of the environmental and ecological potential in the land. Similarly, iwi/hapu narratives can help tell the cultural story of the landscape in structure planning or plan changes.
Rowan Sapsford, Senior Planner at Perception Planning, worked with the Department of Conservation and the Hokotehi Moriori Trust on a co-management plan for Taia Reserve on the Chatham Islands. Rowan and the Trust coined the term, “Hakaperetanga,” that became an integral guiding principle during the development of the plan. "Hakapere" is the Moriori name for the Chatham Island Ake Ake, which is a tree found across the island that is often bent over by the prevailing winds, heroically clinging to the landscape by its strong roots. Adding "-tanga" created a word that represents resilience - a resilient co-management plan that reflects and supports the island's resilient people, landscapes and environment. This co-management plan is still in progress. We look forward to more opportunities to use creative iwi and hapu narratives in our work and would love to hear other examples.
Application: This can be a difficult area in resource management planning. If significant sites are publicly acknowledged, iwi/hapu can fear they may be subject to illegal damage or removal, so a gentle approach is needed when applying the Tohu principle. We were asked to expand on a desktop study that identified the outstanding and amenity landscapes of the Taupo District. We applied a values-based approach (including considering cultural values) to landscape identification and District Plan management. Our research resulted in identifying eight times as many district wide important landscapes and natural features than the first desk top based study did. The values approach needs some fine-tuning to make it more robust, so we look forward to ongoing developments in this area of landscape assessment methodology.
Application: Striking a balance between protecting open rural spaces and allowing people to live on their land can be tricky. When the Taupo District was experiencing a boom in the residential lifestyle development of rural land in the mid-2000s, it undertook a plan change so that only one house per 10ha was anticipated in the rural environment. The initial feedback from local iwi/hapu was that they wanted the plan to provide for papakāinga as an accepted stye of rural living in the Taupo District. As a result of their feedback, and in line with the Ahi Kā principle, an exemption was made in the district plan to enable this traditional living on ancestral land. Because of this provision in the district plan, our recent papakāinga design and resource consent application for whanau in the southern end of the district was approved. We look forward to reporting on progress of this papakāinga project.
What do you think?
Kara Scott is a Landscape Planner whose creative landscape work is influenced by Māori cultural values and improving environmental outcomes.