Climate change report - first of its kind by Māori for Māori

By Marena Mane

Manaaki Whenua (Landcare Research) Māori partnerships general manager Holden Hohaia says the climate change report from Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga and Manaaki Whenua and produced by a multidisciplinary Māori research team is a first of its kind.

That's because it takes a holistic Māori approach to assess the risks associated with climate change on Māori communities, and those risks are examined to see how insignificant, moderate, or extreme they are.

Hohaia says the report looks at four domains, “Te Kura Taiao - the environmental domain. Te Oranga Tangata - our well-being in health. Whakatipu Rawa - our economic well-being from a Māori perspective and Ahurea Māori, Tikanga Māori - a cultural, social and iwi well-being,” he says.

This new report offers Te Ao Māori advice on climate change adaptation and mitigation.

'He huringa huarangi, he huringa ao,' or 'A changing climate, a changing world,' is a response to the recent release of an intergovernmental panel study on climate change, which warns that global temperatures will rise by 1.5 degrees Celsius or more over the next 20 years.

Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga, hosted a webinar with the report authors today.

Temperature change

According to Hohaia, Māori are already overrepresented in kidney and heart disease, diabetes, and asthma, thus temperature rises will have a negative influence on Māori, as detailed in the report.

“It's all associated with temperature change, increase in pollen in the atmosphere.”

Hohaia believes that it is critical for Māori to understand the consequences of climate change, as well as the fact that it has been researched by Māori for Māori and assesses risks via a Māori worldview lens.

“Those risks to Māori communities are quite unique, so they affect our cultural infrastructure in a way that's different from a western assessment of risk.” 

Hohaia said he expects the report will be widely utilised across Māori communities to help them prepare for climate change adaptation and mitigation, as well as how to start the conversation with people in their community.

“To be fair, the report does identify that a lot more work needs to be done, looking at adaptation and mitigation pathways particularly for Māori communities and I think regions have local councils and regional councils that have a big role to play in supporting Māori communities to do that.”

Although many climate change reports focus on environmental and economic consequences, this report, according to Hohaia, focuses more on spiritual aspects and future generations' well-being.

Māori must consider the effects on their marae, cultural traditions, cultural infrastructure and tikanga, and Covid-19 has already demonstrated how this may pose a danger and cause significant upheaval, he says.

“We need to be aware of these things and start planning our cultural institutions to adapt to those types of threats, I suppose. And the report  signals some of the need to do that.”