09 Jul Project Mounga – spiritual connections
BAF is undertaking research for Project Mounga looking at the spiritual connection of people and communities in Taranaki to Mount Taranaki. This research will explore concepts including identity, sense of belonging and coming home.
Maori have a well-defined sense of spirituality, expressed as wairuatanga or wairua, but these terms are not well understood by much of New Zealand society. However, we know anecdotally that for many people in Taranaki the mounga is a fundamental part of their identity and their connection to their community and their region. Seeing the first glimpse of the mountain on a return journey is a signal that we are nearly home, the mountain is embedded in the logos and identity of many of our schools, organisations and businesses. In this way Project Mounga has the potential to connect deeply with peoples’ sense of who they are and where they belong – a potentially spiritual dimension to the project.
What we want to do
- Develop our understanding of how people connect to the maunga and explore more fully how important it is to people in the region in terms of their identity, sense of connection / belonging and their definition of ‘self’;
- Develop a spiritual language that is seen as ‘safe’ and pan-community and enables people to express their connection to nature and Project Mounga from a values base;
- Support Maori and Pakeha to find common ground for their connection to, and sense of stewardship over, the maunga by enabling discussion within Project Mounga to reference both the Maori concept of wairua and a pakeha concept of spiritual connection to nature.
- Use the above outcomes to create a framework for specific actions that contribute to building the sense of ownership of people and the mounga which in turn make it easier to engage people in practical projects focused on the sustainability of the mounga environment.