Thinking Globally but Acting Locally: The Relevance of Indigenous Knowledge

By Te Kipa Kepa Brian Morgan.

Published by The Sustainability Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The conference preamble suggests that sustainability decision making needs to be situated in the context of longer, broader and deeper views. Decision making is indeed at the centre of sustainability outcomes, and a fundamental requirement of good decision making is a process that ensures the holistic consideration of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social well-being alluded to above in terms of the need for broader views.

The fourfold base line for sustainability assessment in Aotearoa New Zealand legislation is based on Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social well-being which has its limitations when interpreted within the contemporary context of economic rationalism dominating Western World decision making. More and more, economic rationalism is driving political expediency that over-values monetary based performance indicators. The decision making outcomes in such a context tend to be short-sighted and narrow, continuing the historic debasement and exploitation of ecosystems, cultures, and societies.

A new decision making framework known as the Mauri Model integrates the intrinsic value of ecosystems, hapū (tribes), whanau (families), and communities using the indigenous concept of mauri as the performance metric across all four sustainability dimensions. The Mauri Model has produced equally valid outcomes from workshops involving indigenous communities and professional engineers with strong agreement regarding the sustainability of common western engineering approaches such as wastewater reticulation. This workshop presents recent research outcomes and demonstrates the surprising alignment of thinking that can result from groups with diverse perspectives when using the Mauri Model decision making framework.

Keywords: Decision Making Support Framework, Sustainability Modelling, Life Supporting Capacity, Indigenous Knowledge, Mauri

The International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability, Volume 5, Issue 2, pp.285-294. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.420MB).

Dr. Te Kipa Kepa Brian Morgan

Senior Lecturer / Associate Dean, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, University of Auckland, Auckland, North Island, New Zealand

Kepa is a Chartered Professional Engineer and is affiliated to the Ngati Pikiao tribe of Aotearoa New Zealand. Kepa has been recognised for his consulting expertise on numerous occasions, working at the interface between Maori and Engineering, and has broad experience in governance and leadership roles in state and indigenous organisations. Now in an academic role, the focus of his research has been the creation of an integrated decision making framework, the Mauri Model, to improve the quality of sustainability decision making and therefore the commitment to sustainable management of natural resources in Aotearoa New Zealand. Kepa’s work has been published in ICE Engineering Sustainability and Desalination. The Mauri Model has been presented at international conferences as the topic of invited keynote presentations (Royal Society NZ Rotorua Lakes Symposium 2003, IPENZ Convention 2004, Maori Local Government Association 2004, Integrated Concepts in Water Recycling 2005, ANZSYS Systems Thinking / Managing the Complex V 2005, Sustainable Indigenous Communities 2006, IPENZ Congress Vision 2020) and most recently a sustainability workshop at the International Forum on Applied Sustainable Development in Quebec 2007 and Multi Criterion Decision Making 2008.

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