It’s a stream cleanup with a difference.
A restoration of the Wairaka puna, or spring, will bring together Western science and the Maori concept of kaitiakitanga in a new conservation method.
The spring, at Unitec’s Mt Albert campus, is one focus of Matariki this year and the wider community is invited to come to the cleanup to learn more about its significance.
Unitec senior natural sciences lecturer John Perrott will run the cleanup.
He says by combining scientific methodologies and Maoritanga he hopes to engage more Maori in environmental protection.
Instead of treating the spring as a characterless body of water, Perrott wants it to be viewed as a treasure.
The cleanup is just the start of a longer process of restoration.
After removing exotic plants and rubbish, the next stage will see the banks of the stream planted with native plants eco-sourced from tapu areas. Restoring a sense of spirituality to the stream will give it a level of protection, Perrott says.
‘‘We want to imbue tapu as a way of protection. Westerners put fences around things, to stop access to them, but Maori traditionally used spiritual means through rahui, banning, or making things tapu.’’
Unitec’s Maori Maia Centre kaiawhina Lynda Toki says it is time to have a new focus on the water.
‘‘These waterways are a gift from Papatuanuku, to care for them is to care for her, we assist her by keeping the waterways clean which in turn will keep the seas clean as all our puna run to the sea,’’ she says.
The cleanup will be held on Friday and will be preceded tomorrow by a symposium looking at the history of the Owairaka area.
New approach: John Perrot and Lynda Toki beside the Wairaka puna.