Kiwi, Kereru, and Kapu: The culture of community conservation in rural New Zealand-with a comparison to Hawai`i

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Harms, Matthew S.
Billings, Dorothy K., 1933-

The Māori and Pākehā (non-Māori New Zealander-European descent) bicultural society in a rural community around Mount Maungatautari, New Zealand, seems to have overcome some significant culturally-embedded differences as exhibited in collaboration on a large-scale and complex conservation project that is community-based and driven, with minimal government control and funding. The emergence of this and other such community-initiated projects in New Zealand invites an examination to determine the socio-cultural factors associated with the emergence of such projects. A comparison of Hawaii’s state of community conservation is felt to highlight those key factors. Through the comparison, Polynesian and Western cultural-historical factors emerge as part of a suite of socio-cultural factors contributing to the New Zealand community’s cross-cultural communication and collaboration. Maori-Polynesian culture and values influence the present stage of collaboration with the elements of valuing differences, the maintenance of strong ties to land through tribal organization, tribal land recognition, ever-stronger culture and identity transmission, and a willingness to apply their own notion of tapu (sacred restriction or removal from the sphere of the profane) to suspend other cherished cultural traditions, allowing the regeneration of species in conjunction with community conservation. Pākehā culture in this project is derived from the re-visioning of New Zealand as a nation intended to be a bicultural society by both group’s ancestors in the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi and contemporary Waitangi tribunals, the cultivation of a “kiwi” identity that expresses multiple-generational ties and affection to land, and an increasing valuation of local biota and indigenous tikanga (ways of doing things) through local and international cross-cultural and environmental discourse.

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Thesis [M.A.] - Wichita State University, College of Liberal Arts and Science, Dept. of Anthropology