The DNA genes biological language is a physical expression of the whanaungatanga (family connectedness) we have with all living things from the Atua (Gods) to all of creation. This whanaungatanga is a feeling that we have a positive connection to each other and a contact with ourselves and all living things. The natural world of Maori is seen holistically and without segregated divisions. Maori hold a common understanding of the dynamic balance that exists inter-relatively between all matter and being. The interactions within the physical and spiritual dimensions are seen as an integral entity for future sustainment.
In the last 25 years scientists have been researching into genetic engineering and thereby how they can most effectively come outside of getting in touch with whanaungatanga and responsibility for the wholeness of life that whanaungatanga involves. As such, genetic engineering is a destructive utilisation of family interconnectedness.
The Biotech corporations and scientists are trying to replace contact and responsibility towards each other and nature with cold intellectualism and dissociation. As such, Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO’s) are an affront to Tikanga Maori (Maori protocols), a breach of the Treaty of Waitangi and a threat to both the health of Maori, the environment and conventional and organic agriculture.
Even introduced agricultural species, such as, vegetables like potatoes, carrots, corn, onions and animals like pigs, sheep, chickens and cows etc.., have become Taonga (treasures) species to Maori. Just as much as kai moana (sea food), tuna (eel) and kumara (sweet potato) were before them and remain to this day. These introduced Taonga species were in widespread agricultural production and commercially traded with by Maori even before Te Tiriti o Waitangi was signed. They have helped sustain us as a people in the past as part of an organic farming system and now we are rediscovering those past skills and making a contribution to feeding our people with healthy organic food as well as creating employment and profitable businesses as part of the rapidly growing commercial organics market. Unlike, conventional or GMO agriculture, organic farming allows us to do this in a way that does not pollute the environment, our kai moana and ourselves.
One of Te Waka Kai Ora’s main goals as part of developing the National Organics Organisation has been to help develop a framework for an indigenous organics verification and labelling system so that we can sell our own organic products under our own Maori organic standards. One of the biggest threats to this is GMO contamination from other farmers growing genetically engineered crops and animals. We know GMO contamination of organic crops and animals occurs overseas and we believe we have a Treaty right that guarantees our choice of staying free from contamination from such GMO pollution. Such choice can only be maintained if GMO’s are banned from use in the environment and agriculture in Aotearoa.
As organic farmers and consumers we completely disagree with this manipulation. We disagree with this because of our holistic world view where everything is connected through whakapapa and mauri where the quality of the final product is just as important as the process of producing it. With GMO contamination the whakapapa and mauri of the species concerned becomes degraded and falls far short of being a quality life giving product.
Therefore, we at Te Waka Kai Ora believe that Aotearoa/New Zealand should officially become a GMO Free Nation because:
- Genetic engineering is a new form of human colonisation that attacks the Whakapapa of the organisms, flora and fauna concerned and will significantly degrade the Mauri (life force) of our foods, flora and fauna.
- Genetic engineering threatens Te Ira Hinengaro (the continuity of consciousness) by introducing un-natural phenomena thus breaking the chain of events stretching across time and space. When humans genetically engineer a plant they destroy the contact between the organisms/plants/animals. When we eat the genetically engineered product we destroy our inner contact–whether we are conscious of the mechanism or not. That we don’t know what we are doing does not change the fact that we will suffer from the consequences.
- The Whakapapa of our indigenous and introduced agricultural Taonga species must be protected from being genetically engineered as this interferes with the Mauri of the species and usurps the role of the Atua (Gods) and the connectedness of all beings.
- Genetic engineering threatens to confiscate Tangata Whenua Matauranga (knowledge) and flora and fauna resources for the benefit of others who have no interests in protecting the Treaty rights of Maori.
- Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO’s) are an affront to Tikanga Mäori (Maori protocols), a breach of the Treaty of Waitangi and a threat to both the health of Mäori and our environment.
- GMO pollution through cross pollination, super weed hybrids and general pollution of the environment has already occurred overseas and this must not be allowed to occur in New Zealand as it destroys the possibility of any choice of farming organically.
- As Tangata Whenua (people of the land) we have an exclusive Rangatiratanga (absolute authority) and rights to ensure that our lands, forests, fisheries (both freshwater and marine) and Taonga (both indigenous and exotic) remain free from being genetically engineered and from becoming polluted from GMO’s being released into the environment.
- GMO pollution threatens Te Hua Maori (natural produce) and indigenous organic farming production of food, clothing and housing.
- As Maori we have a Treaty right to all of our agricultural Taonga species remaining free from GMO contamination no matter when they were first introduced to Aotearoa.
We stand at the precipice of a new age where everything that has gone before can now be remade, not in the crucible of creation/evolution, but in a scientists test tube. The scale of the proposed genetically engineered Second Genesis is one of turning every biological organism that has any material or economic value to biotechnology companies into genetically modified organisms. Despite its implications for all life on planet earth scientists and corporations with a lot of time and money are working to genetically engineer plants, animals, micro-organisms and people.
From our perspective as a Maori organisation, it is within the main principles of mauri (life essence), whanaungatanga (family connectedness) and whakapapa (ancient lineage) that we raise our absolute disagreement regarding genetic engineering and GMO’s. If these principles are damaged or tampered with in any way upsetting the holistic world balance, so too will be the mauri, whanaungatanga and whakapapa of Maori and following generations.