The debate of who owns water in New Zealand has been highlighted in a new book 'Tupuna Awa'. Author Dr Marama Muru-Lanning gives insights to the political issue through the eyes of the government, commercial operators and guardians to provide a perspective from Māori and the State.
The Waikato river is a life-source for tribes, its a subject of power for Crown and businesses. But, Marama Muru-Lanning has taken the political debate from the stories of those who live along its treasured banks and put it into her book.
"It's the flaxroots people that make this book special, because it really is a critique of what the power brokers that are brokering power around the river," said Dr Muru-Lanning.
From Nukuhau near Taupo to Port Waikato, Marama spoke with whānau from the tribes of Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Ngāti Tahu, Ngāti Whao and many tribes of the Tainui canoe, who've been affected with poor health.
Muru-Lanning said, "Those people that live next to the river who are living in un-insulated homes who are suffering from respiratory sicknesses, from arthritis and rheumatism. I want people to remember that they are living there and that their lives haven't changed even though a lot of people are making a lot of money out of electricity generation now."
In 2009 Waikato-Tainui signed the Waikato River Deed of Settlement. Since then it's stirred much ownership debate between the Crown, commercial operators and Iwi leaders.
"It's really important that our Māori leaders remember who they represent, they represent those flaxroots people," she said.
Muru-Lanning's next research is looking at how kaumātua in Te Taitokerau are aging well despite limited resources. Proceeds from the book will go towards a future kaumātua Conference.