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The contribution of taewa (Maori potato) production to Maori sustainable development

McFarlane, Turi R.
Fields of Research
Indigenous peoples in many countries have come under increasing pressure to engage in 'successful development' as defined by outsiders. Frequently, traditional 'Western' models for development are imposed on indigenous communities where 'success' is measured by the realisation of economic outcomes. However, the Maori participants of this research have a broader, holistic appreciation of development, whereby well-being, is strongly influenced by cultural assets, the application of Maori values, a strong sense of cultural identity and the retention and use of Maori knowledge, in addition to economic outcomes. Maori sustainable development is a term reflecting these aspirations of contemporary Maori. The dissertation explores the relationships between taewa production and contemporary appreciations of Maori sustainable development. A case study of taewa growers associated with the Tahuri Whenua national vegetable growers collective was the focus of the qualitative research. The research provided insight into the livelihood outcomes associated with taewa production and explored these within a holistic appreciation of Maori development and well-being. The research has shown that taewa production contributes towards Maori sustainable development for growers in this case study, facilitating and enhancing growers' appreciations of well-being. Growers have related the significant relationship they share with taewa as being more than just about the physical crop. Taewa are a taonga which have been passed down through generations, and facilitate an important link between the people and the land. Taewa strengthen a relationship with this most precious resource, founded in whakapapa and fostered through care and nurture. Growers in this case study have prioritised the application of traditional Maori values such as manaakitanga (hospitality, giving) and whanaungatanga (kinship, togetherness) realised through taewa production. These intangible livelihood outcomes represent integral considerations contributing towards the well-being of these growers. Tangible aspects such as the realisation of economic outcomes are also associated with taewa production, and while these aspects are not necessarily prioritised by the growers in this case study, the growers acknowledge the need to be economically sufficient and recognise the opportunities taewa production can provide. Growers recognise the positive contributions taewa production can make and are motivated to use their knowledge and experience in this area to contribute towards the well-being of future generations. Cultural assets have been shown to be particularly relevant and significant in this context. A Maori worldview relates everything through whakapapa which is the foundation of Maori identity. Therefore, culture pervades all aspects of Maori livelihoods and influences the way in which other livelihood assets can be realised.
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