Pro­tect­ing wa­ter­way

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS -

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.

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