Exploring the contribution Indigenous Knowledge can make to Hazards & Disasters Research

For many years indigenous knowledge has been considered incompatible with western science, mainly due to the differences in knowledge inquiry and transfer, as well as more fundamental beliefs about the inseparable nature of material and non-material aspects of the universe held by the former. Increasingly however, commonalities between the two are being recognised. Both scientists and indigenous knowledge holders, and in particular practitioners, are beginning to work with each other.

Mauri Piki, Mauri Tū, Mauri Ora!

The 5 October 2011 grounding of the MV Rena on Otaiti was acknowledged as the worst environmental disaster in New Zealand’s history. The grounding and subsequent pollution had significant environmental impacts that were experienced in anthropogenic terms as impacts upon social, economic, and cultural well-being. The Ministry for the Environment responded with the Rena Long-Term Environmental Recovery Plan launched on 26 January 2012. The plan’s goal is to “restore the mauri of the affected environment to its pre-Rena state”.

Guardians and Gold Diggers

Aroha Te Pareake Mead is from the Ngāti Awa and Ngāti Porou tribes (Māori) of Aotearoa, New Zealand. Aroha is the global Chair of the IUCN Commission on Environment, Economic and Social Policy and a Senior Lecturer in Māori Business, Victoria Management School, Victoria University of Wellington. She has been involved in indigenous cultural and intellectual property and environmental issues for over 30 years at tribal, national, Pacific regional and international levels.

Tetrodotoxin in Kaimoana

The Hauraki Māori Trust Board and the Cawthron Institute are collaborating in this research project which stems from a spate of dog deaths on the beaches of Tīkapa Moana (the Hauraki Gulf) in August 2009. The dogs died from the poison tetrodotoxin (TTX) and this poison was present in sea slugs that had washed up on beaches. It became apparent research was needed to determine the poisoning risk associated with kaimoana from Tīkapa Moana.

Lake Rotoitipaku - the Mauri Model

The Ngāti Tuwharetoa ki Kawerau iwi places great significance on Te Kete Poutama, an area that encompasses Lake Rotoitipaku near Kawerau, because it has been integral to their economic, cultural, spiritual and social wellbeing for generations. Tasman Pulp and Paper, now Norske Skog Tasman Ltd., leased the area for dumping waste in 1971 and it became the primary disposal site for solid paper-mill waste. Now Lake Rotoitipaku no longer exists – it’s filled with more than 600,000m3 of toxic material. In 2013 the dumping will stop and the land will return to its trustees.