Whenua Māori potential to improve Māori Wellbeing

‘Ka mau tonu nga taonga tapu o nga matua tupuna Koinei nga taonga i tuku iho, na te ātua’

‘Hold fast to the treasures of the ancestors.  For they are the treasures that have been handed down to us by God’

Māori have an intricate, holistic and interconnected relationship with the natural world, whenua and its resources, with mātauranga Māori developed over many generations.    Though we regard ourselves as kaitiaki of all lands, water, forests and fisheries, collectively our ownership of these taonga are less than 10%.  Pre 1840,  the land area used by Māori, along with natural resources, was 100% of New Zealand.

Over time, land ownership has become increasingly fragmented as a result of national legislation and policy that has essentially individualised and privatised land title, alienating Māori from much of the land and water resources formerly available to us.

Māori wellbeing reflects a Māori world view that recognises the close relationship between people and their environment.  This is an ecological orientation that expects social, economic and environmental aspects of wellbeing be taken into consideration, with cultural and physical resources for wellbeing.

As tangata whenua (the first people of this land) we continue to have  strong spiritual links to whenua, regardless of ownership.  We believe Papatuanuku or Earth Mother provides unity and identity to her people and sustains us.

As Māori we are kaitiaki of  whenua and the taonga in our environment which provide a source of unity and identity.  At the same time, we carry the historical loss  of alienated  ancestral lands, and the trauma   caused for generations of whanau.

The Ministry for Māori Development’s Whenua Māori programme aims to unlock  the potential of Māori-owned land. With an initial focus on three regions: Te Tai Tokerau, Waikato-Waiariki and Tairāwhiti.   The programme will foster opportunities for  Māori that will hope to foster a reconnection to ancestral lands, the ability to protect and enhance our whenua, which in turn will create positive implications for our wellbeing.