Environmental Monitoring

A way to measure and assess the environmental health of a site or resource.

Environmental health monitoring is used in the development of policy and planning documents, in the assessment of environmental problems, and the measurement of environmental gains. While environmental health monitoring systems are useful tools by which to address the condition of your local environment and taonga, many do not make provision for cultural and spiritual values.

Many systems that monitor environmental health are based on western science models. This means that they are often most concerned about monitoring things that can be measured and counted. For example, a typical stream health monitoring kit might look at (among other things) the number and type of fish in a stream, and the level of pollutants in the water. This kind of information is important to know, however these types of systems do not allow other aspects of natural resources – that are just important – to be monitored. Nor do these types of systems accommodate Māori knowledge, values and beliefs such as mauri, mana and mahinga kai.

Cultural and spiritual values are essential aspects of Māori natural resource management. Cultural environmental monitoring systems recognise this and include the beliefs and knowledge of tangata whenua along side the measurements of western based science. Cultural Health Indices (CHIs) and Te Rūngana o Ngāi Tahu’s State of the Takiwā are two useful examples of environmental monitoring tools designed to incorporate Māori knowledge, values and perspectives and allow tangata whenua active participation in looking after and meeting their natural resource obligations.

Key idea: Cultural and spiritual values are essential aspects that Māori consider when monitoring the health of their natural resources.


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December 12, 2012

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December 12, 2012


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