Community Connections to Place

Project commenced:

The research question for this platform project are:

  • What taiao-related initiatives occur in Māori communities that connect people to place?
  • How do a selected number of these function; what are the aspirations, processes, relationships and actions involved?
  • What are the facilitators and challenges (enhancers and barriers)?
  • What occurs as a result of these cases; what are their outcomes and impacts?
  • What can we learn that could be applied more broadly?

Māori have a long history of working in balanced and sustainable ways within local environments, as evidenced in whakatauki, pūrākau, tikanga and more contemporary practices and mechanisms that promote environmental sustainability. But how does this taiao mahi function to connect people to place?

Tā Tipene O’Regan once called Māori place-names the ‘survey pegs of memory’ - these ‘survey pegs’ anchor Māori history to the whenua.

Placenames of maunga, awa, moana anchor people, their descendants and their identities in place. However, what happens if whānau and hapū don’t have physical access to these places, the places look different from those embedded in memory, or the underlying kōrero of the name is no longer known?

How is connection reawakened and remembered then? How does the call of te taiao in a sense transcend these memory markers? What other elements serve to connect ‘tangata’ to ‘whenua’ as tangata whenua?

And tangata to taiao more broadly, including wai and moana? What connects whānau and hapū to their rohe? What is the role of te taiao, and engagement with te taiao in these connections?

This platform project seeks to address these questions, by collating information about some of the numerous taiao-related initiatives to understand how they connect communities to place. For instance, how does work with te taiao enhance traditional connections such as whakapapa? We will explore these questions by drawing together researchers and communities working with taiao in various ways.

Thus, a key part of the project is knowledge sharing through wānanga and/or digital platforms; identifying and understanding the barriers, enablers and outcomes of community taiao activity.

Our hope is for our communities to build connections with each other, enabled by researchers and other tools such as digital platforms. Thus, a wānanga will allow communities to learn from each other, finding and making sense of commonalities and differences; and a focus on different ‘case stories’ will provide more in-depth insight.

Project outputs will include a journal article, a report and a plan for further research and work along with formal hui and wānanga with our engaged communities.

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