Reviving the rivers

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

Te Aitanga-a-Hauiti woman Mere Tamanui has been nominated for an NZ River Award.  As an environmental protector she strives to see freshwater thrive for future generations.

“My mission is to basically restore our wetland as well as share the knowledge with our tamariki and how important our stories are to reconnecting us to the whenua,” she says.

Tamanui uses traditional Māori methods of environmental observation, which she says are just as effective as western science data.

“And if you can weave those, raranga those things together, it makes the engagements much more meaningful and that way foster[s] kaitiakitanga,” says Tamanui.

The NZ River Awards recognise the progress made by those who devote time and effort into improving the well-being of rivers in Aotearoa.  The key purpose is to draw attention to the declining health of our waterways.

“Doing-the-do basically, using your observations, common sense, just naturally being, caring for the people, caring for the earth, sharing that abundance and connection and engagement that it brings.”

Tamanui says the key to kaitiekitanga and environmental sustainability exists within Māori systems of knowledge.

“There are connections there.  We just have to look into the stories and come back to some of our ancestral knowledge to lead us in that direction in a safe manner,” says Tamanui.

Administered by the Cawthron Institute, the NZ River Awards will be held on the 13th November.