Decisions about what to do with the whales that died in a recent stranding offers an example of the different worldviews. Scientists want to dissect the dead whales to help determine why they stranded and try to stop it happening and this is laudable. But how many whales have already been dissected and are we actually any closer to understanding these strandings? If pollution was found to be the direct cause does that mean that will stop people polluting? Or if something else, like a virus is found, will pollution reduce then?
I am not saying that there is no value in knowing causes but there is likely to be multiple causes from systemic breakdowns across and within the whole ecosystem. Thinking of the whales as a part of an ecosystem is holistic, and it can offer insights because you come from an angle of connection rather than difference.
The māori worldview is holistic and places importance on not violating the whale by dissection. Under many circumstances the māori view would be discarded out of hand and the dissection proceeded with. But we are making progress, because that didn't happen here...
"Kaumatua Alan Hetaraka said scientists could take DNA samples, "but we don't want [the whales] to be chopped up. It doesn't fit with our culture".
The former marine biologist said his scientist head told him to let the experts take their samples, but his cultural heart told him to bury them intact."Good on you Alan, it is good to have someone who understands both worlds considering these issues. Although the dissections won't be available, the DNA is, and understanding why these mammals strand can still be worked on. I think this was a good decision and it shows the value of the legislation that requires the intent of the treaty, and thus the māori worldview, to be considered.
Footnote - further information on the maori worldview and this situation.
"Ngati Kahu kaumatua Alan Hetaraka said last week's mass stranding on the Karikari Peninsula was just a few hundred metres from a subdivision which the iwi was due to fight in the High Court in less than two weeks' time.
"It's ironic that these things turn up at that spot. You could say it's nature doing what nature does. But to us it's a sign ... It's a sign that they've come to support us."
The court battle centres on a former campground behind the dunes, where an American millionaire is creating eight sections. The 7km-long beach is so far untouched by development.
Mr Hetaraka said the developer wanted to build houses on a slight rise where burial caves were. The caves were used for the children of Ngati Kahu ancestor Kahukura; ordinary people were buried in the dunes.
The firm behind the subdivision is Auckland-based MBR Developments, while Carrington Farms is owned by American Paul Kelly, who owns the adjacent golf course, hotel and vineyard"I tautoko the fight to stop this development. And it puts the decision around the dissection into perspective. Utu - reciprocity - the whales have supported the iwi, the iwi return the favour.