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From Tapu to Noa - Māori cultural views on biowastes management: a focus on biosolids

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posted on 25.07.2019 by James Ataria, Virginia Baker, Joanna Goven, E. R. Langer, Alan Leckie, Mark Ross, Jacqui Horswell
Tapu and noa are key cultural constructs that were central to traditional Māori society, and continue to inform thinking and practice in Māori society today. The intent of this document is to provide some insight, generic language and frameworks about how these concepts might be considered in biowaste management – with a particular focus on biosolids. Importantly, this is to guide non-Māori towards knowing how to ask the right questions in their conversations and engagement with local hapū and Iwi. The report is based upon qualitative research and community engagement work undertaken by the CIBR1 programme to explore the social and cultural feasibility of the beneficial reuse of biosolids2 and effluent from municipal and smaller scale on-site waste and wastewater treatment systems.

Here the application of the concepts of tapu and noa to human biowastes (biosolids) has been explored using explanations and examples of tapu and noa and a model of how objects of tapu interact and interface with each other as proposed by Shirres (1982, 1996). The general discussion of these concepts has benefited from the insights given by various Māori communities that CIBR has collaborated with on the issue of biowaste management.

Funding

Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE)

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