Water is a signiﬁcant cultural resource that connects Ngāi Tahu to the landscape and the culture and traditions of the tūpuna. All water originated from the separation of Rangi and Papatūānuku and their continuing tears for one another. Rain is Rangi’s tears for his beloved Papatūānuku and mist is regarded as Papatūānuku’s tears for Rangi.
For tāngata whenua, the current state of cultural health of the waterways and groundwater is evidence that water management and governance in the takiwā has failed to protect freshwater resources. Surface and groundwater resources are over-allocated in many catchments and water quality is degraded as a result of urban and rural land use. This has signiﬁcant eﬀects on the relationship of Ngāi Tahu to water, particularly with regard to mauri, mahinga kai, cultural well-being and indigenous biodiversity.
The policies in this section are intended to guide freshwater management in a manner consistent with Ngāi Tahu cultural values and interests. They provide a general policy statement to sit alongside catchment speciﬁc issues and policy identiﬁed in Part 6 of this IMP. The anticipated outcome is the restoration of the cultural health of freshwater resources of the region, mō tātou, ā, mō kā uri ā muri ake nei.
A signiﬁcant kaupapa that emerges from this policy section is the need to rethink the way water is valued and used, including the kind of land use that water is supporting, and the use of water as a receiving environment for contaminants such as sediment and nutrients. Fundamental to tāngata whenua perspectives on freshwater is that water is a taonga, and water management and land use should reﬂect this importance.
“Because of the fundamental importance of water to all life and human activity, Kai Tahu maintain that the integrity of all waterways must be jealously protected…. This does not preclude the responsible use of water, but merely states the parameters which Kai Tahu believe any such use should remain within. The utilisation of any resource for the beneﬁt of the wider community is encouraged, providing that it is done with the long-term welfare of both the community and the resource in mind.”