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Te Mātāpuna o Te Waihou: When the river speaks: Te Waihou river rights and power-sharing in the currents of cultural inequality.

National fresh water management in Aotearoa New Zealand is a subject of political contention for hapū that claim customary rights over natural water resources. Waterways continue to deteriorate at an alarming rate under the Resource Management Act (RMA) and regional policies that prioritise economic development and industrial intensification over sustainable resource management. This thesis embodies a collection of unique perspectives and knowledges from Te Waihou river marae. The primary focus of this thesis is to examine hapū values in relation to an ancestral river and significant freshwater source. Hapū geographies are enduring remnants of oral tradition and tikanga practices (cultural traditions and values). These geographies are examined in the context of contemporary water management to contrast strands and values of indigenous knowledge that has guided the health, growth and longevity of hapū for millennia. Such traditional knowledge is an integral part of discerning the future cultural protection and sustainability of a tribal water resource. Hapū narratives are juxtaposed with resource management and reconciliation discourse to consider firstly, bicultural world-views of the natural environment, and secondly, the influence of Western resource management frameworks and mechanisms on tikanga practices. This study is framed by a Kaupapa Māori theoretical framework that creates a site of resistance to dominant colonial theory. Such a space is used to decolonise and decentralise the Eurocentric ideologies in national water frameworks and acknowledge an indigenous approach to environmental protection and sustainable management. With a particular focus on mana whenua customary rights, and Crown and iwi Treaty settlements, commentary on a collaborative management regime for Te Waihou examines power-sharing and the location of power within processes of the co-management mechanism. The review of key resource management literature considers bicultural definitions of water rights and ownership, and the implications of a rights-to-culture model within the contexts of tikanga Māori. River health and sustainability is synonymous with tribal health and the health of communities. This research examines the implications of this statement within the natural resource frameworks of national, regional and district municipalities.
Type of thesis
Kelly, C. E. (2020). Te Mātāpuna o Te Waihou: When the river speaks: Te Waihou river rights and power-sharing in the currents of cultural inequality. (Thesis, Master of Social Sciences (MSocSc)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/13979
The University of Waikato
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