Te Mana O
Te Mana O Te Wai
A concept of the essential significance of water
Te kaha o te wai – The life force of water
Our relationship to water is not only shaped by ecological conditions but also by our socio-cultural environment. Western culture usually looks at water from a financial perspective only. Therefore, it often neglects local knowledge about the origin of water, how the water interacts, impacts on its natural environment, and especially cultural aspects. For the western world, water is a resource, a means to the end of satisfying human needs. Ultimately, the overall goal of freshwater management is the equitable provision of clean drinking water to all inhabitants of Aotearoa.
Water also has an essential purpose and meaning in many cultural systems as it plays a supporting and connecting role as a mediating element – flowing between individuals, animals, plants, minerals and the environment. Our Western way of viewing water as a resource / commodity is changing as we embrace steps toward viewing water as a vital life force, and viewed as a whole life cycle.
Te tapu o te wai – The sacredness of water
For Māori, water has a deep spiritual meaning. In water, the deities are as present as the ancestors. The ancestors live in rivers as well as the mythological gods. The waters of their homeland are part of their identity: whatever happens to the water, happens to you. Every river, lake and stream is permeated by a spirit (wairua). Just like all other things – earth, sky, animals, plants – the waters are personified. At the same time it is seen as living components of a larger, universal organism.
According to Māori tradition, water is a taonga (treasure) and wahi tapu (sacred place) for the indigenous people in a particular region but also the whole country. It is also significant that water has different names. “Waiora” is the sacred water that falls as rain or comes from a spring. Only this type of water is suitable for ritual ceremonies, e.g. at birth or death. River water is usually considered as “waimaori”, safe and healthy for drinking and catching fish. Waste water becomes “waikino” or even “waimate” when it is too dangerous to drink.
Te whakapapa o te wai – The special relationship of Maori and water
In Māori mythology, the earth only became habitable for humans when parting heaven and earth. Sky Father, Ranginui, and Earth Mother, Papatūānuku, were in a close, loving embrace. Suddenly, they were separated by one of their sons – who is also considered the ancestor of today’s humans – lifting Ranginui with his feet. In their grief and longing, Papatūānuku lets her sighs rise as mountain mist. Ranginui’s teardrops fall as rain on the earth. As a consequence of this separation, freshwater appears for the first time. It can be seen as the inevitable result of the atmosphere on which all life depends.
In the Māori world view, animals, plants, rivers, mountains and lakes are ancestors. As a result, they are seen as family members who are respected and treated as fellow human beings. Thus dew and mountain mist are daily reminders of the kinship with water.
Te maramatanga o te hononga – the awareness of connectedness
When it comes to our water, there is often a lack of awareness. Very few people know where the water comes from and if it is safe to drink. We can all increase our attention to the ecological condition of the river outside our front door or in the quality of our bore/tank water. This is about connection, attachment, and oneness with the world. The water in our cells, in our blood, in our breath, in our brain, was just rain, dew, and clouds, and it will be again after passing through us. Water connects us all and therefore we are part of the world. As part of the whole, it is in all our interests not to harm it.
Māori teach their children that no waste should enter rivers and seas from which fish are caught. The reason is not contamination or danger of disease but the perception of impurity. Water has its own life force (mana) and they attribute to it values and concepts such as purity, integrity, scenic beauty and nativeness.
In honor of our tangata whenua, such goals, which go beyond mere environmental and conservation considerations, will now be enshrined in the future laws of Aotearoa. The concept of Te Mana O Te Wei is to protect the life force of water in our country.
Te Mana O Te Wai
Te Mana o te Wai is not a new concept. It has been around for many years in Te Ao Maori. It has also been embedded as a fundamental concept in New Zealand freshwater management for about a decade. The core of the National Policy Statement for Freshwater is Te Mana O te Wai. Its primary purpose is to protect the life force of water and thus refers to the fundamental importance of water for the iwi.
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)
This Statement for Freshwater Management shows a critical transition from an economic Western world view to a more indigenous, holistic perspective. First and foremost, it reflects the significance and values, Maori attach to the life force of water. There are obligations that emerge from Te Mana o te Wai and follow a clearly defined hierarchy. They are prioritised in the following.
The legal context of Te mana O Te Wai
First, the health and well-being of water bodies and freshwater ecosystems. Second, the health needs of people (e.g. drinking water). Third, the ability of people and communities to provide for their social, economic and cultural well-being, now and in the future.
There are six principles that underpin Te Mana o te Wai.
- 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.
What does Te Mana O Te Wai means for Aqua Works
For Māori, Kaitiakitanga embodies respect and stewardship for nature. In New Zealand, we feel a special connection to the land we come from. Thus, from an early age, we learn to conserve it. Similarly, Aqua Works firmly believe that if we take care of the land, it will take care of us and future generations. It is part of our Aqua Works culture and is reflected in our values.
Aqua Works is a local, family-owned business in the Rodney district. We are a purpose-driven and passionate team united by a desire to provide clean, healthy water and the best service to our customers. We aim to achieve this in respect, connection and harmony with our environment. Ultimately, the importance of safe and potable drinking water in our lives is paramount to us. We know this through Kaitiakitanga. Therefore, our mission is to take care of the water, and if we all do this, the water will take care of us.
Water is the elixir of life and our passion
Exceptional support for our business customers
Aqua Works has more than 20 years of experience as a local expert in commercial water treatment for many industries. We offer water solutions supporting you to meet your individual needs and legal requirements. The modularity of our product range helps you to optimise investment costs. At the same time it ensures the best purification of your water.
We deliver customised water treatment solutions to keep your water safe wherever you need it in your business. Aqua Work’s water filtration systems, UV filter purification, water treatment, ozone systems and water pumps combine sustainability, high performance and cost-efficiency.
With years of experience and expert advice, our passionate team is here to help you every step of the way to clean and potable drinking water. Our maintenance service guarantees the continuous, reliable operation of the products used. Therefore, we recommend regular maintenance of all water treatment systems to detect possible malfunctions at an early stage. Simultaneously, we eliminate the triggers, and avoid costly replacement.
And if something should happen spontaneously, call our 24/7 water pump emergency service. We will take care of your problem immediately and make sure that the water in your business is running again as quickly as possible.
At Aqua Works, we go beyond and above what other do. Hence, our water treatment products are tried-and-tested, innovative solutions for our customers and their businesses. Want to experience our excellent UV filters, water filtration systems and water pumps or our high-quality UV filter service, water pump repairs or water pump service? Give us a call today on 0800 AQUA WORKS.