Wai / Water
Our love of the water resonates with the perspective of New Zealand’s indigenous Māori people. We invited respected Māori kaumatua (elder), Dr Haare Williams of Ngāi Tūhoe and Te Aitanga-a-Mahaki, to explain this view of water and its interconnection with all living things.
“Wai Ora, living waters without contaminants, is water containing the ‘living spirit’ that restores and sustains life. The Māori perspective is different but relevant in today’s endless uncertainties. Water is viewed through a Māori prism as ‘The spiritual substance of Papatuanuku [earth, land, soil, placenta, birth, rebirth].’ Wai Ora is the purest form with the propensity to create and nurture life, to counter evil and therefore sustain wellbeing.
Whakapapa [genealogy] connects Māori to all things created which includes features like mountains, rivers and trees. Whakapapa is a unifying philosophy in all Māori tribal history. It accounts for all things in the universe from the beginning of time. We learn that the ancestral landscape has a continuous, natural and spiritual connection with features like water catchment, forests, bush, marshlands, as well to physical formations of valleys, estuaries, and sites like kainga, waahi mahinga kai, parekura, ara, paparahi, waahi tapu, [habitations, gardens, pathways, sacred places] and with people who live on the land (ahi kaa). This is the cultural landscape.
Kaitiakitanga is the law of reciprocity which means that a user of a resource like a fishing ground is simultaneously a ‘guardian’ to protect the resource. Maui, a cultural hero, demonstrated the distaste for greed, waste and gluttony. Tikanga, tapu and noa [protocols] ensure the protection of all things of value, a balanced use of natural resources where users are obligated to think and listen to the heartbeat of Papatuanuku, Moana [the sea] and Ngahere [the forest]. Listening might just be the new language of hope, wellness and peace.”
At Phathom, we aspire to be guardians of the natural world, and to partner with others by creating tools to promote the balanced use of natural resources.