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Te Mahi Oneone – Hua Parakore; A New Māori Soil Sovereignty And Well-being Handbook

Te toto o te tangata he kai, te oranga o te tangata, he whenua, he oneone – While food provides the blood in our veins, our health is drawn from the land and soils

In te ao Māori, soil is taonga. It is also whanaunga – it holds ancestral connections and is the root of tūrangawaewae and whakapapa. It is the source of shelter, kai and manaakitanga. But until recently, little information has been readily available about the importance of soil for tangata whenua and their relationships with this vital resource.

Launched this week at an online hui, Te Mahi Oneone Hua Parakore: A Māori Soil Sovereignty and Wellbeing Handbook shines a new light on Māori relationships with soil, as well as the connections between soil and food security.

Edited by Dr Jessica Hutchings and Dr Jo Smith, underpinned by Māori-led scientific research, and published by Freerange Press, the book will be of interest to Māori gardeners, Māori communities, Māori and non-Māori researchers and people with an interest in the well-being of the soil and their health. Through a uniquely Māori lens, the book seeks to elevate the mana of soil through an emphasis on ‘taonga tuku iho’ (the heirloom nature of soil resources) and its whakapapa origins in Māori health and well-being.

An anthology of different cultural standpoints from experts and practitioners across New Zealand, the book draws on the hua parakore Māori organics framework developed and promoted by Te Waka Kai Ora (the National Māori Organics Authority) as a means for understanding people’s wide-ranging, diverse and interwoven relationships with soil.

“Kaitiakitanga is about caring for the land. We inherit the whenua, the waterways, the moana. We don’t own it, but our responsibility, our role to our people and to our whenua, is to care for it and to ensure its sustainability for future generations.” Hōhepa Hei (Chapter 7. Te Wharekura o Maniapoto: Kura-ā-Iwi – Educating the community).

“Whakapapa literally means to cause/to make like Papatūānuku – so my existence, my identity, my being stems from Papatūānuku, and that is exemplified by the fact that my relatedness and connections to people are through my whakapapa. That is why for us of Ngāti Manawa and Ngāti Awa and Mātaatua people, soil is papa, so soil health – papa oranga ki a mātou (the health of the soils which sustains us).” Maanu Paul (Chapter 5 – A Vision for soil and food-growing with Maanu Paul).

The scientific research that contributed to the book was part of an MBIE Endeavour-funded project – Soil Health and Resilience: Oneone ora, Tangata ora – led by Manaaki Whenua - Landcare Research. Nga Pae o te Māramatanga supported the book’s publication with a grant, the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at Victoria University financed the book’s images, and Our Land & Water National Science Challenge provided editing support.

Useful links:

Our Land & Water stories:

Manaaki Whenua’s work on soil health and resilience:


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