Māori believe that humans are connected to the natural world and that the environment is a reflection of our health, wellbeing, connection within ourselves and others. People aren’t above nature; instead, humans and nature are one.

Life is about aligning yourself with the natural world through connecting into our ecosystem around us and de-attaching from the ego.

Diagram ‘Ego-Eco’-Humankind is part of the ecosystem, not apart from or above it. This diagram depicts this simple fact clearly (diagram: S. Lehmann, 2010).
Conference picture, by Isabella Penrose

Recently, my cousin (Mairangi Bennett) and I had the amazing opportunity to attend a two-day symposium in Ōtautahi on behalf of Ngāi Tai ki Tāmaki and Revive Our Gulf. 

The symposium was based around promoting and celebrating indigenous knowledge(s), with a specific focus on maramataka (the Māori lunar calendar), kaulana mahina (the Hawaiian lunar calendar) and tatai arorangi (Māori celestial knowledge). It was held at the University of Canturbury hosted by Ngai Tahu and had many great speakers such as Rereata Makina, Dr Pauline Harris, Billy Kinney and more… 

Throughout the symposium there was an underlying theme of re/connecting with our natural environment, ourselves, and each other.

As I see it maramataka is one way to build all these connections. For example, Rereata Makina and Apanui Skipper talked about how maramataka allows you to better understand what is happening in the environment by looking at the different moon phases, stars, cloud formations etc. Kiri Solomon talked about how maramataka can connect us to our emotions and supports us with navigating our emotions in a more holistic approach.

The symposium was amazing overall and I’m very grateful for Revive Our Gulf and Ngāi Tai ki Tāmaki for supporting my cousin and I to attend.

To end I want I ask some questions to help you think of your relationship with the environment.

  • How are you making an impact on the natural world?
  • How can you relate to the natural world?
  • How can you connect with your environment?
  • How can you improve the health of your environment?
  • How can you create a mutually beneficial relationship between yourself and the natural world?
    Conference picture, by Isabella Penrose