Indigenous ancestral sayings contribute to modern conservation partnerships: Examples using Phormium tenax

School of Maori and Pacific Development and Department of Biological Sciences, University of Waikato, Private Bag 3105, Hamilton 3240, New Zealand.
Ecological Applications (Impact Factor: 4.09). 02/2009; 19(1):267-75. DOI: 10.1890/07-1693.1
Source: PubMed


Traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) is central to indigenous worldviews and practices and is one of the most important contributions that indigenous people can bring to conservation management partnerships. However, researchers and managers may have difficulty accessing such knowledge, particularly where knowledge transmission has been damaged. A new methodological approach analyzes ancestral sayings from Maori oral traditions for ecological information about Phormium tenax, a plant with high cultural value that is a dominant component in many threatened wetland systems, and frequently used in restoration plantings in New Zealand. Maori ancestral sayings record an association with nectar-feeding native parrots that has only rarely been reported, as well as indications of important environmental parameters (rainfall and drought) for this species. These sayings provide evidence of indigenous management that has not been reported from interviews with elders, including evidence of fire use to create Phormium cultivations. TEK in Maori ancestral sayings imply landscape-scale processes in comparison to intensive, small-scale management methods often reported in interviews. TEK in ancestral sayings can be used to generate new scientific hypotheses, negotiate collaborative pathways, and identify ecological management strategies that support biodiversity retention. TEK can inform restoration ecology, historical ecology, and conservation management of species and ecosystems, especially where data from pollen records and archaeological artifacts are incomplete.

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Available from: Priscilla M Wehi, Mar 10, 2014
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    • "Ancestral sayings and a coastal wetland plant Wehi 2009 Terms for tidal current patterns Johannes et al. 1981 Resource management Management practices in small-scale subsistence or commercial fisheries (artisanal fisheries) Morrill 1967, Johannes 1978, Johannes 1981, Klee 1980, Swezey and Heizer 1984, Amos 1993, Johannes and Yeeting 2000, Blount 2005, Hickey 2007, Thornton 2008, Mangahas 2010, Nguyen and Ruddle 2010, Satria and Adhuri 2010, Coulthard 2011 (con'd) Ecology and Society 17(3): 8 "
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    ABSTRACT: Local and traditional ecological knowledge (LTK) is increasingly recognized as an important component of scientific research, conservation, and resource management. Especially where there are gaps in the scientific literature, LTK can be a critical source of basic environmental data; this situation is particularly apparent in the case of marine ecosystems, about which comparatively less is known than terrestrial ones. We surveyed the global literature relating to the LTK of marine environments and analyzed what knowledge has been collected and with what aims and results. A large proportion of LTK which has been documented by researchers consists of species-specific information that is important for traditional resource use. However, knowledge relating to marine ecology, environmental change, and contemporary resource management practices is increasingly emphasized in the literature. Today, marine LTK is being used to provide historical and contemporary baseline information, suggest stewardship techniques, improve conservation planning and practice, and to resolve management disputes. Still, comparatively few studies are geared toward the practicalities of developing a truly collaborative, adaptive, and resilient management infrastructure that is embracive of modern science and LTK and practices in marine environments. Based on the literature, we thus suggest how such an infrastructure might be advanced through collaborative projects and "bridging" institutions that highlight the importance of trust-building and the involvement of communities in all stages of research, and the importance of shared interest in project objectives, settings (seascapes), and outcomes.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2012 · ECOLOGY AND SOCIETY
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    • "It is argued that by focusing on the shared values between Western scientifi c ways of knowing and mätauranga Mäori it is possible to overcome the economic growth focus to achieve a truly sustainable development paradigm suitable for New Zealand (Simon, 2003). Mätauranga Mäori and Western scientifi c knowledge can combine to create " best practice " management techniques (Wehi, 2009). "

    Full-text · Article · Jan 2012
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    • "Ko te reo te mauri o te mana Maori' (The language is the life force of the Maori people) " (Waitangi Tribunal 1986). As researchers, conservation managers and restoration ecologists come to recognise that many " natural " ecosystems are in fact " cultural " landscapes that are human-modified, examination of TEK and indigenous resource management strategies have become more important to effective conservation of biodiversity (Posey 1996; Wehi 2009). Mead (2003) argues that research processes, procedures and consultation need to be correct: " so that in the end everyone who is connected with the research project is enriched, empowered , enlightened and glad to have been a part of it " . "
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    ABSTRACT: Recent conceptual shifts in ecology towards integration of humans into ecosystems requires all possible sources of ecological knowledge available (Berkes 2004, 2009 this issue). Māori traditional ecological knowledge of natural systems (TEK) can add valuable ecological data to more conventional scientific studies as the former tends to be diachronic, based on a cumulative system of understanding the environment founded on observations and experience (Gadgil et al. 1993; Berkes 2008), while the latter is frequently synchronic, with experiments that may explore causal effects in ecological patterns (Newman & Moller 2005; Moller et al. 2009a). However accessing TEK can be both difficult and time-consuming, as demonstrated by the 14-year research project Kia Mau Te Tītī Mo Ake Tonu Atu (the ‘Keep the Tītī Forever’ research project; Moller et al. 2009a). We argue that oral traditions offer a wealth of information that is frequently overlooked, in part because of a lack of knowledge of te reo Māori (the Māori language) and, further, a lack of recognition of the inextricable link between biological and cultural diversity (Maffi 2005).
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2009 · Journal- Royal Society of New Zealand
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