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Maori to help guide world heritage conservation

Maori to help guide world heritage conservation

New Zealand Maori are being called on to help guide the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) on world heritage conservation.

UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura is visiting New Zealand as a Guest of Government on 1-4 February as part of his study tour of UNESCO’s work in the Pacific. He has asked during his visit to explore Maori concepts of intangible cultural heritage - that there is more to heritage conservation than protecting what the eye can see.

Mr Matsuura will visit Tongariro National Park and meet kaumatua to learn about the significance to iwi of this World Heritage site and how intangible cultural values can be protected. He will be hosted by Ngati Tuwharetoa Paramount Chief Tumu te Heuheu, New Zealand’s head of delegation to the World Heritage Committee.

Mr Matsuura’s visit recognised New Zealand’s world-leading role in safeguarding world heritage and has added weight to our successful World Heritage Committee candidacy last year, Conservation Minister Chris Carter said today.

“Cultural heritage is not just about archaeological sites or artifacts in museums, it is a living thing for the people associated with it, and should be recognised as such when we are protecting heritage sites.”

New Zealand is the first State Party on the World Heritage Committee to have stood for election in its own right and on behalf of a region, namely Pacific Island countries. Mr te Heuheu gained on behalf of New Zealand and the Pacific 100 of 163 votes, a record level of support in the committee’s history.

“I met Mr Matsuura in Paris during the elections and he told me he was particularly interested in Maori perspectives on protecting intangible cultural heritage,” Mr te Heuheu said.

“I said during my campaign speech that there is more to Tongariro for our people than the mountain. The volcanic peaks in our rohe (traditional place) represent our tupuna (ancestors). They are the source of our mana (prestige) and are therefore sacred to tangata whenua. ”

Tongariro National Park was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1990 on the basis of its natural heritage values. The “associative cultural landscape” of the mountains sacred to iwi was recognised and added to the area’s heritage criteria in 1993. Until that time, the World Heritage Convention only recognised cultural heritage represented by physical evidence, such as man-made structures or earthworks.

The ground-breaking case by Ngati Tuwharetoa to UNESCO influenced Mr Matsuura in developing the Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage. Adopted last year, the Convention will enter into force after it has been ratified by 30 UNESCO states parties.

Two examples of intangible cultural heritage in the Pacific have since been recognised - the lakalaka dances and sung speeches of Tonga, and the sand drawings of Vanuatu.

New Zealand has been a party to the World Heritage Convention since 1984, but not represented on the heritage committee until now.

“We will now be able to add a Pacific voice to the committee’s work,” Mr te Heuheu said. “We will also be able to help Pacific Island countries access support for listing and protecting world heritage sites.”

New Zealand would work with Pacific Island countries, UNESCO and other interested groups to develop a World Heritage programme for the region, he said. “We will be planning public consultation to identify possible new World Heritage sites in New Zealand.”

Koichiro Matsuura’s visit and cultural heritage: Q & A

Koïchiro Matsuura bio Japanese national, elected the eighth Director-General of UNESCO on 15 November 1999, and the first of Asian origin. Born in 1937, studied economics and law at the University of Tokyo and in the United States. At 22, he entered the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs as a diplomat. Assignments included postings to the OECD, representing Japan at the G7 Summit in 1994 as Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, and as Japan’s Ambassador to France. Author in the fields of economic co-operation, bilateral relations, and perspectives on development. Chaired the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO.

Tumu te Heuheu bio Direct descendent of Horonuku Te Heuheu, who in 1887, as Paramount Chief of Ngati Tuwharetoa, gifted the mountains of Tongariro to the people of New Zealand. Has continued the leadership work of his forefathers in conserving the natural and cultural heritage of this area and has extended this to conservation issues in New Zealand and the Pacific. Member of the Tongariro-Taupo Conservation Board, Waitangi National Trust, New Zealand National Parks & Conservation Foundation, of the Board and the Maori Heritage Committee of the New Zealand Historic Places Trust. Chairman of Nga Whenua Rahui (a Government-funded programme to help conserve indigenous natural resources on Maori-owned land). Led the bid for recognition in the World Heritage List of associated cultural landscapes, on the basis of the merits of Tongariro National Park. As kaitiaki (guardian) for his iwi, Mr te Heuheu has helped form partnership links between Ngati Tuwharetoa, the Crown and the community. Acting-chairperson on the Tuwharetoa Maori Trust Board, Lake Taupo Forest Trust; and Rotoaira Forest Trust.

What makes a world heritage site? Outstanding natural and cultural values that meet the criteria of the World Heritage Convention. Worldwide, there are 754 sites listed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. http://whc.unesco.org/ nwhc/pages/doc/main.htm

What is natural heritage? Defined in the World Heritage Convention as physical, biological, and geological features; habitats of threatened plants or animal species; and areas of value on scientific or aesthetic grounds or from the point of view of conservation.

What is cultural heritage? Defined in the World Heritage Convention as: a monument, group of buildings, or site of historical, aesthetic, archaeological, scientific, ethnological or anthropological value.

New Zealand’s World Heritage sites Tongariro National Park, Te Wahipounamu (Westland/Tai Poutini, Aoraki/Mt Cook, Mt Aspiring and Fiordland National Parks), and New Zealand’s subantarctic islands, such as Campbell Island. http://www.doc.govt.nz/Conservation/World-Heritage/index.asp

Pacific World Heritage Sites The Pacific Island countries, while spread across one-third of the globe, have only one site on the World Heritage List - East Rennell, the eastern part of Rennell Island in the Solomon Islands. Recognised as a stepping stone in the migration and evolution of species in the western Pacific, Rennell is an important site for the science of island biogeography.

The United States and Chile each have one world heritage site in this region, the Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park and Easter Island’s Rapa Nui National Park, respectively.

To put this into perspective, Spain alone has 38 sites inscribed on the World Heritage List.

Why is Tongariro National Park a World Heritage site? Important Maori cultural and spiritual associations as well as outstanding volcanic features. It was New Zealand’s first national park, and the fourth in the world, following the gift of the sacred peaks to New Zealand in 1887, by Te Heuheu Tukino IV (Horonuku), then Paramount Chief of Ngati Tuwharetoa.

The whakapapa (genealogy) and legends of Ngati Tuwharetoa are venerated accordingly: Ko Tongariro te Maunga Tongariro is the mountain
Ko Taupo te Moana Taupo is the lake
Ko Tuwharetoa te Iwi Tuwharetoa are the people
Ko Te Heuheu te Tangata Te Heuheu is the man

What is the intangible cultural heritage of Tongariro National Park? The cultural associations that Ngati Tuwharetoa and Te Atihauanui a Paparangi have with the Tongariro mountains are expressed in traditional oratory, songs, chants, prayers and dances. They represent the spiritual and ancestral associations between people and the surrounding volcanic landscape. To iwi the mountains are sacred and revered, and represent their tupuna (ancestors) and are a source of mana (prestige), cultural and tribal identity and spirituality.

What’s important about intangible cultural heritage? Imagine if the New Zealand Rugby Football Union dropped the performance of Te Rauparaha’s haka before test matches. Imagine if the Government banned the Church from officiating at weddings, baptisms, and funerals. Many people would express outrage at such acts because their intangible cultural heritage had been affected. Such traditions are part of what makes us human, and are part of both western and indigenous cultures.

Pacific examples of intangible cultural heritage The lakalaka dances and sung speeches of Tonga, and the sand drawings of Vanuatu have been included in a list of Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity, announced by Mr Matsuura in November last year.

Lakalaka dances and sung speeches celebrate important events in Tonga such as coronations and inauguration ceremonies. Lakalaka means to step briskly or carefully. The tradition originated in pre-colonial dances and thrived in the 20th Century, with the patronage of Tonga’s royal family. The dense polyphony of the vocal music coupled with the swaying in unison of hundreds of male and female dancers is an impressive spectacle.

Sand drawings represent a unique method of communication in the world, practised among the members of various language groups living on the central and northern islands of Vanuatu. Elegant geometric patterns scratched on the ground transmit information about local history, indigenous rituals and cosmologies, kinship systems, natural phenomena, song cycles, choreographic patterns and farming techniques. Expert sand drawers must possess intimate knowledge of the numerous graphic patterns and understand their complex layers of meaning.

Why the need for an international agreement on protecting intangible cultural heritage? The World Heritage Convention is unable to recognise cultural heritage not represented by man-made structures or earthworks. Indigenous peoples wishing to preserve intangible cultural traditions till now have had no easy means of seeking UNESCO help.

The Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage was adopted at the 32nd Session of the UNESCO General Conference on 17 October 2003. It will enter into force after 30 countries have ratified it.

The Convention’s purpose is to safeguard intangible cultural heritage; to ensure respect of it for the communities, groups and individuals concerned; to raise awareness locally, nationally and internationally of its importance; and to provide for international cooperation and assistance.

The Convention provides for setting up two lists: a Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, and another of intangible cultural heritage in need of urgent safeguarding. http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0013/001325/132540e.pdf

World Heritage Convention The Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage was adopted by the General Conference of UNESCO at its 17th session in Paris, on 16 November 1972.

States Parties to the Convention are obliged to help protect all world heritage and identify world heritage sites if requested. New Zealand became a party to the Convention in 1984. As of 28 November, 2003, 177 states have signed the Convention. http://whc.unesco.org/nwhc/pages/ home/pages/homepage.htm

World Heritage Committee The Committee is made up of representatives from 21 States Parties and is the governing body of the World Heritage Convention. It is responsible for implementing the Convention, has the final say on whether a site is accepted for inscription on the World Heritage List, and monitors world heritage protection work.

The Committee allocates finance from the World Heritage Fund for sites in need of repair or restoration, for emergency action if sites are in immediate danger, for providing technical assistance and training, and for promotional and educational activities.

New Zealand’s election to the World Heritage Committee New Zealand was successful in what is recognised as one of the toughest UN elections, a seat on the World Heritage Committee. It was held during UNESCO’s 14th General Assembly of States Parties to the World Heritage Convention, held at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris on 14 and 15 October 2003. Twenty-six candidates contested seven seats, with 176 countries eligible to vote. New Zealand had never previously sought election.

New Zealand’s candidature was unique; we stood on behalf of an entire region rather than in our own right alone. That region - the South Pacific - is culturally rich but had no representation on the Committee. This was an opportunity for New Zealand and the region to have its voice heard.

In having New Zealand’s candidature headed by the highly respected Maori leader Tumu te Heuheu, Paramount Chief of Ngati Tuwharetoa, the Government was expressing its commitment to partnership with Maori. As well, Mr te Heuheu has a strong track record in protecting cultural and natural heritage.

Members are elected every two years, for up to six-year terms of office. Current practice is to serve four years, to allow other countries to take part in the Committee’s work, which New Zealand will follow.

What will the election mean? The culture and interconnectedness of the Pacific, its geography and dispersed population are not readily appreciated by people with no first hand experience of the region. When Australia stepped down from the World Heritage Committee in 2001, after 19 years of continuous service, the Pacific lost its only voice on the Committee. That is now restored.

New Zealand will now be able to help Pacific Island developing countries access technical support and financial support from the World Heritage Fund.

New Zealand will work with our Pacific neighbours, UNESCO, other NGOs and agencies to Pacific to develop a World Heritage programme for the region. In July last year the World Heritage Committee approved a programme outline responding to the cultural and natural heritage needs of Pacific Island communities.

Planning is underway for public consultation to identify possible new world heritage sites in New Zealand and to develop a better appreciation of the significance of world heritage listing and the work of the Convention.

Role of the Department of Conservation DOC is the government agency representing New Zealand in respect of the World Heritage Convention. It manages the three properties on the World Heritage List and is responsible for conserving New Zealand’s natural and historic heritage.

DOC works with many government and non-government agencies and individuals within New Zealand with expert knowledge on the work of the Convention, among them Te Puni Kokiri and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Role of tangata whenua in world heritage management DOC works with iwi and hapu in almost all aspects of its work, including world heritage site management. This relationship is anchored in the Conservation Act 1987, Section 4, which requires DOC to “give effect to the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi”.

Tangata whenua are represented in DOC’s principal policy, management and decision-making processes, through representation on the New Zealand Conservation Authority and regional conservation boards. Within the department, a network of Kaupapa Atawhai managers assists the relationship between DOC and tangata whenua and advises it on its Treaty responsibilities.

Links have been established between Maori and traditional owners of Australia’s world heritage sites, and between New Zealand, Australia, Canada and the US on indigenous world hertiage issues.

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