Environment, News

Report draws on mātauranga Māori

He taiao tōnui mō ngā reanga katoa – a flourishing environment for every generation.

This infographic from Environment Aotearoa 2022 shows the positions of the whetū in the Matariki cluster and describes the environmental domains they represent. Source: Ministry for the Environment, Stats NZ and data providers

The Environment Aotearoa 2022 report has changed the way it reports its findings, drawing more on mātauranga Māori and exploring the link between the environment and our wellbeing.

This unique approach, distinctive from other approaches around the world, interweaves different knowledge systems, presenting a richer and more relevant picture of the whole environment and the connections with people.

Some of the key findings of the recently released report were that pressures of land-use change, and intensification, pollution, invasive species, and climate change were having detrimental impacts on the environment. New Zealand’s rare ecosystems and indigenous species are under threat with 94 per cent of reptiles threatened with extinction or at risk of becoming extinct, and nearly three-quarters of terrestrial birds threatened or at risk.

The area of highly productive land that was unavailable for agriculture increased 54 per cent between 2002 and 2019. Our climate is warming, glaciers are melting, and sea-levels are rising. Air quality in Aotearoa is improving slowly at a majority of measurement sites, but in many places, pollution levels are above the new World Health Organisation (WHO) 2021 guidelines.

These changes to the environment were impacting our ‘wellbeing and our connection to te taiao’ states the report. ‘Our wellbeing is linked to a healthy environment’.

‘Bringing a Māori world view (te ao Māori) recognises the interconnectedness of all parts of the environment, including people, and speaks to something that connects us all to Aotearoa New Zealand.’

“Environment Aotearoa 2022 relates environment change to human wellbeing,” said Secretary for the Environment Vicky Robertson.

“The report brings together a wide range of information to give us a broad picture of the health of the environment. Wellbeing is linked to a healthy, functioning environment.”

Environmental indicator data underpinning the report comes from local and central government, crown and independent research institutes, industry associations, and in a small number of cases, international sources.

Ms Robertson said the report’s primary purpose is to provide New Zealanders with the evidence-based information they need to consider in any decisions about their environmental impacts and New Zealand’s future direction.

Forest & Bird Chief Executive, Kevin Hague said the report brings together a wide range of information to give us a broad picture of the health of the environment.

‘Wellbeing is linked to a healthy, functioning environment,” said Mr Hague. ‘This report shows that nature is helping us in many ways, but it’s clear that much more needs to be done to protect nature so that it can continue to support and protect us.

‘The previous reports [2018-2021] show that all environments – critical to New Zealanders’ wellbeing – are struggling with the impacts of human activity in our warming world. We rely on nature, yet it can only help us cope with the impacts of climate change and benefit our wellbeing if we take decisive action to restore and maintain its healthy state.” 

The report, produced every three years by the Ministry for the Environment and Stats NZ, draws on nearly 50 environmental indicators, including 11 updated specifically for the report. 

Meanwhile, the Government will be shortly releasing its implementation plan for Te Mana o te Taiao, the Government’s Biodiversity Strategy to protect and restore nature.