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Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori 2020 – Te Mana o Te Wai


Waiora Aotearoa (Water New Zealand) is proud to once again tautoko (support) Te Wiki o te Reo Māori (Māori Language Week) – 14-20 Mahuru (September) 2020.

For the third year, Waiora Aotearoa has produced a bilingual water-focused poster to celebrate this year’s Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori. The theme for this year’s poster is ‘Te Mana o te Wai’.

“Te Mana o te Wai is a concept that refers to the fundamental importance of water and recognises that protecting the health of freshwater protects the health and well-being of the wider environment. It protects the mauri of the wai. Te Mana o te Wai is about restoring and preserving the balance between the water, the wider environment, and the community.” - National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2020 (NPS-FM 2020)

Te Mana o te Wai encompasses six principles that inform the implementation of the NPS-FM 2020, and relate the roles of tangata whenua and other New Zealanders in the management of freshwater;

  • Mana whakahaere: the power, authority, and obligations of tangata whenua to make decisions that maintain, protect, and sustain the health and well-being of, and their relationship with, freshwater
  • Kaitiakitanga: the obligation of tangata whenua to preserve, restore, enhance, and sustainably use freshwater for the benefit of present and future generations
  • Manaakitanga: the process by which tangata whenua show respect, generosity, and care for freshwater and for others
  • Governance: the responsibility of those with authority for making decisions about freshwater to do so in a way that prioritises the health and well-being of freshwater now and into the future
  • Stewardship: the obligation of all New Zealanders to manage freshwater in a way that ensures it sustains present and future generations
  • Care and respect: the responsibility of all New Zealanders to care for freshwater in providing for the health of the nation.

Te Mana o te Wai provides a clearly defined hierarchy of obligations, prioritising (NPS-FM 2020):

  • first, the health and well-being of water bodies and freshwater ecosystems
  • second, the health needs of people (such as drinking water)
  • third, the ability of people and communities to provide for their social, economic, and cultural well-being, now and in the future.

This year’s poster puts the health and well-being of wai (water) in the centre. It incorporates concepts introduced in previous posters including Te Hurihanga Wai (The Water Cycle, 2019) and Ngā Momo Wai (Types of Water, 2018). It is intended to expand on these concepts to illustrate the different stages of water, and corresponding mauri (lifeforce) and hauora (health). The holistic nature of ‘Te Mana o Te Wai’ is further demonstrated through the interconnectedness of water;

“Mai i te Rangi, ki te Nuku o te whenua.

From the sky/Ranginui, to the embrace of the land/Papatūānuku.

Mai i uta, ki tai.

From the land, to the sea.

The poster also includes Ngā Wai-o-rangi (Waters of Ranginui/sky) and Ngā Wai-o-nuku (Waters of Papatūānuku/earth), connecting the physical realm to the spiritual, and demonstrating the requirement that waters, especially those whose mauri has been diminished, are returned to and connected to the earth and sky for cleansing and for their mauri to be enhanced.

Although Te Mana o Te Wai has been developed for freshwater management, it has relevance for all interconnected water including for the three infrastructure waters: stormwater, wastewater, and drinking water.

  • Drinking water is typically sourced from freshwater sources.
  • Wastewater effluent is typically treated to a high water quality standard and discharged to land and waterbodies. This can affect receiving waters, including groundwater and freshwater sources.
  • Stormwater runoff is often directly connected to freshwater. Urban stormwater can pick up contaminants and requires treatment prior to discharge.

The NPS-FM 2020 requires all regional councils and local authorities to ‘give effect to Te Mana o te Wai’. Further, Taumata Arowai, the new water services regulator (in process of establishment), is also required to give effect to Te Mana o te Wai as part of its objectives.

This has relevance for all water practitioners involved in the planning, design, construction, and operation of three waters infrastructure. It ensures that a holistic catchment framework is applied and the rights of water are put first. Ngā Wai Manga (the Urban Water Principles)are 10 principles developed by the Urban Water Working Group (MfE, 2018) and recommended to protect and restore Te Mana o Te Wai in urban contexts. The principles are another resource to help guide decision-making at all levels and promote the creation of water sensitive urban spaces by drawing on mātauranga, the lessons of the past and international best practice, the needs of our present communities, and a vision of a sustainable, resilient future.

Ka ora te wai, ka ora te whenua, ka ora ngā tāngata

If the water is healthy, the land is healthy, the people are healthy