This paper complements the ongoing research ‘Activating Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD) for healthy, resilient communities’ commissioned by the Building Better Homes Towns and Cities National Science Challenge. The overarching project aims to enhance capability to address current barriers to the uptake of WSUD in Aotearoa (New Zealand).
Results of the Activating WSUD discovery phase identified a need to review the capacity of current approaches to meet reasonably foreseeable future requirements for urban liveability. Industry engagement identified (among other factors) an increasing sensitivity to Māori values and aspirations.
Māori culture recognises that environmental care has integral links with the mauri (life force) of the environment and concepts of kaitiakitanga (stewardship). Te Ao Māori (Māori world view) links the roles and health of people to the protection of the wellbeing of the environment, through the intrinsic relationship between people, water, and Te Ao Tūroa (the natural environment). Integrating core water sensitive design values with mātauranga Māori (indigenous knowledge) and principles of tikanga Māori (traditional indigenous practices) provides a holistic, culturally enhanced approach to protecting our water for future generations, more in line with natural hydrological water cycle processes, and inherently providing for enhanced socio-cultural outcomes in addition to environmental stewardship. The following is one whakataukī (proverb) reflecting the holistic relationship māori have with the environment:
Ka ora te wai, Ka ora te whenua. Ka ora te whenua, Ka ora te tangata.
If the water is healthy, The land will be nourished. If the land is nourished, The people will be provided for.
This paper explores what WSUD means to Māori and how WSUD in Aotearoa currently recognises and provides for Māori values. The paper enables improved understanding of Te Ao Māori, to better integrate māori world views and mātauranga Māori to support uptake of WSUD and ultimately enhance mauri and wider socio-cultural outcomes for healthy and resilient communities in Aotearoa New Zealand.