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Article 6 - Tupuna Awa and Sustainable Resource Knowledge Systems of the Waikato River

Author(s): Marama Muru-Lanning

Journal: MAI Review
ISSN 1177-5904

Issue: 1;
Start page: 1;
Date: 2007;
Original page

Keywords: Māori epistemology | river

The contested nature of rivers derives from the diverse range of interests that people have in them. Needless to say, people who have the same type of interests in the Waikato River generally perceive and describe the river in a similar way. This paper conveys how Māoriunderstand the Waikato River to be a “tupuna awa” and how people associated with commerce understand the river to be a “sustainable resource”. The varied understandings of the river can be conceptualised as “epistemologies”. This presentation employs ideas presented by Anne Salmond in her seminal paper Theoretical Landscapes (1982). The discussion identifies some of the tensions that arise when Māori and commercial epistemologies of the Waikato River converge.This paper illustrates that the tupuna awa epistemology is comprehensive and dynamic.Embedded within tupuna awa is a wealth of Māori knowledge. Indeed the tupuna awa epistemology competently deals with the metaphysical aspects of the river and has procedures that address its recent commodification.
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