Centre for Urban Ecosystem Sustainability, University of Auckland, New Zealand
As New Zealand’s indigenous people, Maori have a unique relationship with the environment underpinned by a complex spiritual, social, cultural and economic (subsistence) value system. The environment is regarded as a taonga or treasure to be guarded and protected for current and future generations.
Intensification of urban settlements has not only affected the natural and built environment but also severely affected the relationship Maori have to traditional resources, landscapes and other sites of significance. Modern urban expansion has a propensity to overlay landscapes, natural features, resources, settlements, land-use and activity with little recognition or acknowledgement of what was there before. The application of each layer has an expression of value, meaning and significance to those that occupy those spaces. Occupation of land over generations by Maori has instilled connections and expressions of value into those resources. There are many examples throughout New Zealand where neighbourhoods and communities are designed to reflect exotic styles, which exhibits or displays none of the characteristics that make New Zealand unique.
The scope of this paper fits within a broader PhD research project investigating Maori Perspectives to Urban Design. This paper attempts to identify and expose a new Maori cultural paradigm to current development practice. Urban design is more than just the construction and placement of physical structures. It’s about making connections with people, places and spaces (New Zealand. Ministry for the Environment., 2002). The paper seeks to answer a number of important questions. What is a Maori environmental world-view; what are traditional Maori settlement patterns; how do traditional settlement patterns relate to current notions of quality urban design; and what are Maori perspectives of quality urban design?
The world’s indigenous population is estimated at more than 300 million worldwide, covering almost every climatic zone and continent. Once ignored, they are now seen as key knowledge holders, in the management of fragile ecosystems and biodiversity (Davis and Partridge, 1994, McGregor, 2004). Indigenous peoples all view land as being the basis of their very survival (Anonymous, 1990). Indigenous people venerate land as the mother of all living beings, including humans. Therefore, people's health and survival, require good land care and management (Barrera-Bassols and Zinck, 2003).
Maori consider the environment as a complete system and it is difficult to separate particular aspects of the environment for specific comment without considering it within a broader environmental context (Rolleston, 2005). Maori are tangata whenua (people of the land) of New Zealand, and as such they have developed a unique relationship with the natural environment founded on principles of social, cultural, economic (subsistence) and spiritual connection (Sinclair, 1975). The core Maori values and beliefs of the environment are merely tools and instruments by which Maori seek to understand and interpret the world in which they live (Marsden, 1975). The traditional relationship developed over centuries of close interaction by Maori with New Zealand’s environment remains an important part of Maori culture (New Zealand. Dept. Of Conservation. et al., 2000).
Figure 1: Traditional Maori Waka (Best, 1934b)
Maori arrived in New Zealand on great double-hulled waka (Salmond, 1991, Best, 1934a, Buck, 1952, Orbell and University of Canterbury., 1985), (Figure 1). Survival and adaptation to the environment was a consuming task of endurance for early Maori (Buck, 1952, Best and Board of Maori Ethnological Research (N.Z.), 1927). The climatic and environmental conditions of New Zealand were unlike those of the Pacific (Orbell and University of Canterbury., 1985). Maori had to adjust to a new landscape, diverse flora, fauna, and variable seasonal conditions. Many historians agree that within two to three hundred years of settlement in New Zealand, Maori had become a highly organised society, supported by new social units with elaborate rules and conventions (Durie, 2003, Orange and New Zealand. Historical Publications Branch., 1987, Best and Board of Maori Ethnological Research (N.Z.), 1927). These rules and conventions evolved from traditional Polynesian knowledge and experiences into a new social and cultural order based on the wellbeing of the family structure. Polynesian immigrants brought to New Zealand a distinctive world-view, from which emerged both tribal and living traditions of the Maori (Given, 1995). This distinctive world-view recognises the interrelated and interdependencies of all living things (Awatere, 2005, Durie, 1998) within the environment, including humans. These notions are illustrated in many Maori proverbs that recognise the environment as an important cultural element.
Te toto o te tangata he kai; te oranga o te tangata he whenua
Food supplies the blood of man; his welfare depends on the land
He kura whenua e hokia; he kura tangata e kore e hokia
The treasure of land will persist; human possessions will not (Brougham et al., 1987)
Underlying this world-view is a set of principles that create an on-going relationship with the environment. The principles are based on a strong conservation philosophy as well as observing and respecting the essential relationship between human and non-human elements. The resulting Maori environmental philosophy emphasises principles and values of:
kaitiakitanga guardianship and stewardship;
mana authority and control;
mauri life principles;
matauranga knowledge, expertise;
tapu and rahui sanctions and restrictions;
tikanga protocols and regulations;
whakapapa genealogical connections; and
However, beyond these principles the specifics of resource management for each tribal group are for them to define, state and implement (Michaels and Laituri, 1999). This iwi-specific approach will be based on some general cultural aspects including:
The traditional Maori approach to resource management is a holistic system (Minhinnick, 1989, Patterson, 1999) with the major objective being to sustain the mauri or life supporting capacity of the environment (Patterson, 1999, Tipa et al., 2003).
Land, water, and air are central to Maori life and values, as they are to most indigenous societies. Their use and management require special care and attention (Harmsworth, 1997a).
Maori material culture was based upon the biological resources and geological character of the landscape (Firth, 1959).
As a consequence it can be concluded that:
The value of traditional local knowledge is increasingly recognised – however care must also be taken to protect the intellectual and cultural property rights of Maori when sharing information (Davis, 2004, Simpson, 2004).
The customary use of New Zealand’s natural resources by Maori remains an important part of sustaining the relationships with indigenous biodiversity and maintaining cultural integrity, values and traditional knowledge (New Zealand. Dept. Of Conservation. et al., 2000).
2TRADITIONAL MAORI SETTLEMENT FORM
The first New Zealand settlements were not developed as a result of colonisation, but were constructed as a means to maintain and preserve the tribal unit. Traditional Maori settlements were strategically positioned and highly organised, with the primary purpose to protect people, precious food stocks and prized resources. Tribes tended to congregate and settle where the tribal unit was best protected from enemy attack and situated in close proximity to important sources of food and natural resources (Best and Board of Maori Ethnological Research (N.Z.), 1927, McFadgen et al., 1991). The position and placement of the settlement within the wider landscape was also very important. The influence of spatial relationships with iconic landscape features such as waterways and mountains enable Maori to maintain associations and connections with those spaces and elements (Mead et al., 1996). The best know examples of cultural association are expressed through traditional Pepeha or tribal identification proverbs that describe natural features of ones traditional family home. These proverbs link people with place and ancestors as illustrated below by the water and mountain (Photo 1).
Ko Mauao te maunga
Ko Tauranga te moana
Ko Rauru ki tahi
Mauao (Mt Maunganui) is the ancestral mountain
Tauranga harbour is the ancestral waters
Rauru was a man of his word (Ryan, 1989)
Photo 1: Mauao (Mt Maunganui)
Settlements were characterised by two distinct forms, namely the Pa or fortified settlement (Figure 2) and the Kainga or unfortified settlement (Vayda, 1970, McFadgen et al., 1991, Bulmer, 2002). Some Pa were defended settlements that housed 10 to 20 people and others protected up to several hundred. Many Pa were mere citadels that protected Maori during times of conflict (McFadgen et al., 1991), and the day-to-day living and functioning of the tribe occurred in the Kainga outside the confines of the Pa (Buck, 1952). Fortification and defensive works varied locally but were more elaborate and sophisticated than anywhere else in Polynesia (Vayda, 1970). The designs of such settlement were influenced by the geography and topography of the landscape. Pa served a variety of functions. Many Pa were constructed as fortified villages, others as refuges and some as defended stores (Davidson, 1987). During the New Zealand land wars of the 1850’s and 1860’s many Pa were constructed for the sole purpose of war. Gate Pa in Tauranga illustrates the extensive excavations and earthworks undertaken for the construction of temporary battle sites (Figure 3). There are many New Zealand examples of historic Pa dotted over landscape. Prominent historical Pa include, the many traditional settlements established on the extinct volcanic cones around the Auckland region.
Figure 2: Model Pa or fortified village, constructed by J McDonald, (Best and Board of Maori Ethnological Research (N.Z.), 1927)
It is suggested that by the 18th and 19th century, Maori occupied a number of different settlement types during any one year. Base settlements were constructed as a focal congregation centre. These settlements were characterised by the length of time and frequency a tribe would occupy these sites. Groups often spent winter in base settlements and gathered and stored provisions they needed to cover the needs of the tribe during seasonal periods (Davidson, 1987). Temporary and seasonal settlements were established in different parts of the tribal area to access or harvest foodstuffs and other raw materials (Buck, 1952, Best and Board of Maori Ethnological Research (N.Z.), 1927).
Figure 3: Gate Pa in Tauranga, (Best and Board of Maori Ethnological Research (N.Z.), 1927)
A study completed by Groube (1965) suggests that Maori settlements be defined as either a domestic or communal unit. A domestic unit is referred to as the smallest social unit of people such as a family. These settlements might normally consist of sleeping, storage and cooking facilities. Communal settlements refer to larger groups of people sharing common facilities and activities. Communal settlements were highly organised and ordered, and included any number of the following physical structures, fences, palisades, sleeping houses, food storehouses, cooking areas, gardens, storage areas, latrines, rubbish dumps, open space, burial areas, stone workshops and access to fresh water. Many of the buildings were highly decorative with carved symbolic figures depicting tribal ancestors, history and traditions (Harmsworth, 1997a). Much of the raw material used for settlement construction was sourced from the environment (Firth, 1959). Patterns and models of Maori settlement and their relationship with the land remain important aspects of urban design (New Zealand. Ministry for the Environment. and Urban Design Advisory Group (N.Z.). 2005).
The low population densities of traditional Maori settlements ensured resources were managed sustainably. As a result the ecological footprint of Maori settlements were restricted to what was available and accessible within the surrounding environment. Maori existed and lived in a state of balance with the environment, rather than being superior to nature, Maori remain apart of nature (Durie, 1998).
3QUALITY URBAN DESIGN
Like many other cities around the world, New Zealand cities face similar environmental problems from increased population growth (Greenaway et al., 2005). The growing importance of urban design has been one of the most significant developments in the planning profession over the past decade (Dewar, 2004). Much of New Zealand’s development in our urban centres is increasingly being driven by changing trends and lifestyles (New Zealand. Ministry for the Environment, 2002). The New Zealand government identified cities as a key programme area to achieve sustainable development in the New Zealand context (New Zealand. Dept. Of the Prime Minister and Cabinet., 2003). Intensification of urban settlements has not only affected the natural and built environment but also severely affected the relationship Maori have to traditional resources, landscapes and other sites of significance (Rolleston, 2005).
The urban environment functions as part of an integrated social and ecological system (Greenaway et al., 2005). Modern urban expansion has a propensity to overlay landscapes, natural features, resources, settlements, occupations, land-use and activity with little recognition of what was there previously. Trade, military and port settlements are a historical feature of New Zealand’s colonial development. Each layer has an expression of value, meaning, importance, significance and usefulness to those that connect to those particular spaces. Occupation of land over generations by Maori has instilled those connections and expressions of value into the landscape and natural resources (Firth, 1959). There are many examples throughout the country where neighbourhoods and communities are designed to reflect exotic styles which exhibits no characteristics or qualities of New Zealand’s culture, landscape or environment.
The recently released New Zealand Urban Design Protocol identifies seven essential design qualities that create quality urban design. Each design element reflects not just quality urban design of today, but may also provide some insight into urban design of the past (New Zealand. Ministry for the Environment. and Urban Design Advisory Group (N.Z.). 2005). The seven design qualities include:
It can be argued that all seven of the essential design qualities featured in the Urban Design Protocol apply to Maori settlement patterns. However, the explanations associated with each quality need to be examined from a Maori perspective, that is to say:
Context: Maori settlements were traditionally reflective of their location and were constructed within a natural environmental context. Settlements were not isolated from the environment but were reflective of the surrounds. The construction and design of buildings and utilities were not intrusive or invasive but reflected the relationships and connections between people and the environment. Settlements recognised the landscape and surrounding environment as an integral component of the built form. Maori considered the placement and location of buildings and the design and function within the landscape (Photo 2).
Photo 2: Otatara Pa, Palisades of a Maori pa (fortified settlement) are silhouetted at sunset on a hillside above Napier (DeGraaf, 2001)
Character: The character of settlements portrayed the life and nature of the people that occupied those spaces. Maori instilled value, respect and appreciation for the environment in which they lived. These notions are evident in the narratives, myths, legends, historical accounts and oral traditions. Natural features such as water bodies, mountains, bluffs and islands were venerated and personified as living beings. The notions of personification were also exemplified within the design and construction of traditional buildings. The decorative carved art forms displayed on buildings depicted ancestors, important cultural icons, genealogy and stories.
Choice: The design of buildings and communities varied within their environmental context, which reflected the choice and diversity of the built form. Settlements were influenced by their location and position to natural resources and security and protection from enemy attack (Figure 4). The selection of a settlement site was extremely important and influenced the types of buildings that were constructed. The availability and accessibility of certain materials also affected the design of some structures.
Connections: Good connections between spaces, buildings and resources were essential. The only mode of transport available to Maori was walking or canoe, which emphasised the need for spaces to be accessible and well connected. In this instance site selection was very important, to enable efficient and effective access to available resources. Some tribes established links and paths with temporary settlements to enable seasonal gathering and harvesting of food sources. There are tribes that still maintain traditional paths and access ways as a means to preserve the traditional links between tribes and family groups.
Figure 4: McDonald, James Ingram, 1865-1935: Alarm in a Maori pa 1906 (McDonald, 1906)
Creativity: The design and materials used in settlement development created important connections with the surrounding environment. Design and planning of structures and communities required a level of creativity, especially in relation to site selection. Some Pa were constructed on coastal rock outcrops, cliff ledges and mountaintops. The enormous excavations that occurred for some Pa were extensive. The design and construction of fortified strongholds were elaborate.
Figure 5: The meeting house Porourangi depicting the carved panels on the facade (Harding, 1902)
Many Pa incorporated carved palisades into the outer perimeter of the settlement as well as panels and decorative arts on and within buildings. The carved art forms depicted tribal ancestors, genealogy and history (Figure 5).
Custodianship: Communities needed to be located and positioned to take advantage of natural resources while maintaining a high level of protection from enemy intrusion and attack. The reliance on the environment for survival persuaded and encouraged Maori to foster a guardianship or custodianship philosophy to caring for the environment. Maori consider themselves as caretakers and protectors of land and its associated resources, to preserve and maintain for current and future generations. Sustainable management, care, respect and regard for the environment is still maintained and practiced by Maori.
Collaboration: Leadership, expertise, knowledge and experience from the whole community supported in developing quality settlement design. Collaboration between different sectors and specialists within the Maori community assisted in creating effective design solution. Design was derived from a number of roles, Rangatira (chief), Tohunga (specialist), Pukenga (knowledge holders) and Toa (warriors).
4MAORI SETTLEMENT DESIGN QUALITIES
There is a growing recognition that no single skill or profession can deal with the complexity of change in towns and cities (Sternberg, 2000). Urban design is the process of shaping the physical environment and setting for life in cities, towns and villages. It involves the design of buildings, groups of buildings, spaces and landscapes, and establishing the processes that make successful development possible. Urban design is about the expression of a cultural perspective within a defined space and location (Schofield, 2004). The design of a single unit dwelling, subdivision, community or town centre reflects and replicates underlying cultural values of those that live or access services within those communities.
Seven cultural design qualities have been developed to consider how Maori concepts; models and values can be incorporated or integrated into the urban design and development process (see appendix 1). These qualities aim to assist and support the preservation of culturally significant resources and landscapes as well as build community identity based on Maori values. There are many examples where underlying cultural values are transformed, modified or discarded as a result of environment change. In order to protect and preserve those unique values and qualities, development must occur in a sensitive manner and consider those values impressed upon the landscape by previous tenants and occupants.
Matauranga, Knowledge and Understanding: The role of history, genealogy, mythology and cultural traditions has played an important part in shaping Maori attitudes, beliefs, values and behaviours toward environmental management (Buck, 1952). Maori culture is based on strong oral traditions, accounts, and descriptions (Barlow). Knowledge and understanding promotes, facilitates and builds community identification of local history and the importance of underlying cultural heritage values that relate to particular areas and resources of significance to local Maori. Settlement should reflect an understanding and awareness of local history through design.
Whakapapa, Relationships and Connections: Identification and connectedness of people to people, and people to place was traditionally maintained through marriage, occupation and the use of traditional resources. Marriage was an important institution and mechanism that preserved and sealed strategic alliances and connections between tribes and families (Salmond, 1991). These relationships played an important role in times of conflict as well as securing access, use and rights of scarce or specialised resources. The personification and identification of natural landscape features was also use to maintain the close relationship ties with the environment (Best, 1934a, Buck, 1952). Relationships and connections reflect the importance of the social interactions between people and people, and people and the environment. Settlement design should assist the community in making social and environmental connections.
Whanaungatanga, Participation and Membership: Maori are a communal people and value collective participation and membership. Traditionally, participation and membership was founded on genealogy, lineage and descent (Barlow). Each member of the collective had set roles, responsibilities and functions for the day to day living of the tribe. These notions recognise common interests to encourage and build community pride, identification and ownership. Spaces should encourage community participation and membership and not isolate or segregate members of a community.
Kaitiakitanga, Conservation and Protection: The conservation and protection of natural resources is a valuable cultural sustainable management mechanism (Harmsworth, 1997b, Minhinnick, 1989). The use of natural resources was governed and regulated through cultural lore and traditions of tapu, rahui and noa (sanction). Conservation and protection of the natural environment, promotes community awareness of inherent values contained within the environment. Important natural resources should be identified and protected as a taonga (treasure) for current and future generations. Innovative design solutions are possible to preserve significant natural assets.
Rangatiratanga, Recognition and Acknowledgement: Maori are recognised and acknowledged as the native and indigenous people of New Zealand (Minhinnick, 1989). As indigenous people, Maori developed a unique relationship with the environment underpinned by specialised protocols and values. Maori have struggled to maintain and protect their traditions and knowledge in an ever-changing environment (Harmsworth, 2002). Recognition and acknowledgement promotes community awareness of fundamental cultural values pertaining to the environment and landscape. Significant contributions to recognising a Maori world-view are possible.
Tikanga, Sustainable Management and Use: The Resource Management Act 1991 defines sustainable management as
5. (2) In this Act, ``sustainable management'' means managing the use, development, and protection of natural and physical resources in a way, or at a rate, which enables people and communities to provide for their social, economic, and cultural wellbeing and for their health and safety while—
(a) Sustaining the potential of natural and physical resources (excluding minerals) to meet the reasonably foreseeable needs of future generations; and
(b) Safeguarding the life-supporting capacity of air, water, soil, and ecosystems; and
(c) Avoiding, remedying, or mitigating any adverse effects of activities on the environment (New Zealand. Parliament., 1991)
Sustainable management is not only about protection and conservation, but is also concerned with allowing and providing for its use and development. Traditionally Maori were reliant and dependent on a balance between protection, conservation and use (Durie, 1998). Sustainable management and use of resources is an important cultural quality, which recognises the significance of intergenerational equity. Where natural resources are identified, settlement and community design should provide for its sustainable management, while balancing utilisation.
Mana Whakahaere, Access and Admission: Maori restricted and regulated access to certain areas through the use of tapu, rahui and noa (Durie, 2003). Sanctions were used to replenish sensitive or scarce food stocks, and to respect or honour a significant event or incident such as birth or death. Identified cultural sites of significance should be protected under traditional sanction mechanisms. However, the community should have unrestricted access to all the other resources and assets. Access and admission is concerned with encouraging community ownership and responsibility of important natural resources and features found within a community.
The seven essential design qualities identified in the New Zealand Urban Design Protocol are an important start in developing quality urban design in our cities. However, the design qualities must also respond and align with Maori settlement design qualities as featured in the previous section. A further exercise of this work is to compare and analyse the convergence of the seven urban design qualities and Maori settlement design qualities. Appendix 2 illustrates the start to that investigation.
The scope of this paper was constrained to identifying and assessing a Maori perspective to urban design. In doing so, the research omits a number of important questions, how are cultural values and design qualities integrated onto current urban design practice; how are practitioners encouraged to incorporate such values and qualities into urban design; what incentives are their for practitioners to consider cultural design qualities; what do these design qualities look like in practice; and are their any examples of where these design qualities have been included in a development? All these questions form an important part of further research and investigations into Maori perspectives to urban design.
Urban development and intensification has not only affected the natural and built environment, but also affected the relationship Maori have with the natural world. Maori environmental value systems are consistent with concepts of sustainability and can provide a positive contribution to environmental management and urban design practice.
A Maori perspective to urban design is very much a work in progress. Current urban development and settlement patterns in New Zealand tend to occur through applying conventional design trends and styles adopted from other parts of the world. Modern urban expansion has a propensity to overlay landscapes, covering significant natural features, resources, and historical sites with little recognition or acknowledgement of what was there previous. The application and occupation of each layer has an expression of value, meaning and significance to those that occupy those spaces. Settlement and utilisation of land and resources over time by Maori has instilled important connections and expressions of value. Maori in many areas struggle to maintain those connections and values with important cultural sites. There are many examples where underlying cultural values are transformed, modified or discarded as a result of environment change. In order to protect and preserve those unique values and qualities, development must occur in a sensitive manner and consider those values impressed upon the landscape by previous tenants and occupants.
This project is about identifying and exposing a new Maori cultural paradigm to current development practice. Urban design is more than the construction and placement of physical structures. It’s about making connections with people, places and spaces (New Zealand. Ministry for the Environment., 2002). The notion of connections between people, places and spaces is not a new concept for Maori. The paper has discussed a number of important questions namely: what is a Maori environmental world-view; what are traditional Maori settlement patterns; what are traditional settlement patterns in relation to current notions of quality urban design; and what are Maori perspectives of quality urban design?
There are opportunities to preserve those values and connections with cultural sites through innovative urban design solutions and integration. Further research is to be conducted identifying design solutions and concepts that support cultural values. The research will also investigate the question of integration, and how Maori perspectives of quality urban design might be integrated into current urban design practice.
Whatungarongaro te tangata
Toitu te whenua
Man will disappear
But land will always remain (Brougham et al., 1987)
This paper contributes toward PhD research through the University of Auckland investigating Maori Perspectives to Urban Design. The project is funded through the Foundation for Science Research and Technology under the Tuapapa Putaiao Maori Fellowship and support by the Planning Department, University of Auckland.
Appendix 1: Maori Settlement Design Qualities
Knowledge and Understanding
Knowledge and understanding of history, people and environment
To promote and facilitate community understanding of local history and the importance of underlying cultural heritage and values
Community heritage information boards, recognition of traditional place names through signage, recognition of history in common spaces
Relationships and Connections
Understanding of the relationships and connections between people and place
To promote the relationships between people and place that reflect social connections with the environment
Recognition and protection of sites of significance, protection of view shafts
Participation and Membership
Participation and membership in the community and social setting
To encourage community participation and pride through building and emphasising community identity
Communal facilities (community centre), common and civic spaces reflecting local identity
Conservation and Protection
Protection of significant landscape features important to the local community
To support the protection of important environmental and cultural features through community ownership and collective responsibility
On-site mitigation for 3 waters, recognition and protection of spiritual guardians, restoration of waterways