Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Thoughts on land use from a young Māori woman

The following post is by AgDialogue participant Ana Ngamoki.

Climate change. Global warming. Greenhouse gas emissions. Fossil fuels.

These terms, and others, have now been ingrained into everyday conversation. As a young Māori woman, what do they mean exactly? It suggests damage to our tribal lands. Or even a loss of food resources and biodiversity. This leads to loss of land, culture and identity. A familiar pattern is emerging; a new form of ‘colonisation’ maybe? This time however, Māori have an opportunity to shape and partake in discussions to control, to an extent, the climate change situation.

Sustainable development. Renewable energy. Emissions trading scheme. Carbon Credits. AgDialogue.

These terms are perhaps a step in the direction towards recognising our role in managing the effects of climate change. The AgDialogue discussions have been an interesting experience. I am not a farmer, a policy analyst, a scientist or even consider myself an expert in this field. However, I have a vested interest and understanding in Māori, and more specifically Te Whānau a Apanui use of land. Our role as kaitiaki (guardians/ steward) over our lands and foreshore is a part of our culture and identity. It is our responsibility to put in place systems now to ensure future generations have continued access to the resources which our ancestors have left us.

Entering the AgDialogue discussions partway through was a daunting experience. I was suddenly thrust into a room of individuals whose years of experience in their respective fields almost equalled my age (and I am quite old!!). Following my first meeting in November 2011 and an exchange trip to Japan, I was able to reflect on my role within AgDialogue. Sometimes it is not until you travel abroad and participate in other processes that you realise how privileged a position you have been put in. This is what I discovered while I was in Japan. As a member of Kaitikiatanga – Caring for our lands and foreshore; a whānau and hapu not-for-profit organisation and, as tangata whenua, we have been allocated a voice in a process which some people and organisations can only dream of. We have been placed in a position where the voices of tangata whenua can be shared within a National Working group and climate change policy can now reflect these voices, aspirations and values.

The most interesting experience for me has been learning and absorbing information and stories from experienced individuals. Nitrification inhibitors were a foreign language to me prior to joining this group, so too were some of the scientific terms associated with climate change. This process has been a window by which I have been able to view how they can be simplified and turned into appealing prototypes such as a cooking show, an educational farming game, and so forth. So as a young Māori woman, witnessing this process has made it a lot easier to understand and work through a complex issue and turn it into a more manageable situation for tangata whenua.

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