In Te Mana o te Wai, Tangata Whenua and Tangata Tiriti (other New Zealanders) have responsibility to protect the mauri and health of water. Tangata Whenua lead and help guide this journey to transform our thinking. Te Ao Māori encourages a different approach to how WSP delivers infrastructure, framing it as a catalyst for positive environmental impacts on our freshwater taonga rather than applying a mitigation approach.
“For me as a civil and environmental engineer who designs and manages assets and water resources it introduces a way of thinking about how a project might affect a water catchment that goes beyond measuring units of contaminant loading or sedimentation,” says Alistair.
“It makes understanding mai i uta ki tai, the journey of water from mountains to the sea, and the health and wellbeing of the whole catchment, the primary consideration. It reinforces putting the health of the water and the health of people front of mind and part of the purpose, rather than something that is a negative effect to manage or mitigate.”
Te Mana o te Wai is inclusive of mātauranga Māori and scientific approaches, which are brought together to holistically meet water quality standards. To deliver on this, Alistair’s team includes hydrologists and environmental scientists as well as “green-engineering engineers”.
This broad range of skills and thinking means WSP’s Water Resources teams are able to help shape projects right across WSP’s practice areas, leading water quality change in our Transport, Power, Water Assets, Environment and Hazard Management project delivery.
“We are key to change, we implement the policy and lead the step change to give effect to the aspirations of the policy statements,” says Alistair. “We can, through embracing the Te Mana o te Wai in our design leadership, make improvements to biodiversity and fresh water quality a fundamental part of all our work”.
“It is easy to celebrate restoring a wetland which sets out to provide obvious environmental benefits. Our challenges and some of our greatest uncelebrated successes are when we influence the design a state highway, road or a bridge in such a way that the mauri and health of the surrounding catchment, and the freshwater within it, is better than it was before”.
Alistair says that organisations who are making the effort to understand what the NPS-FM is trying to achieve, who are working in support of the regional councils and local communities who own the quality targets, and who are embracing the national environmental policy and standards, will see their mana grow alongside the health of Aotearoa New Zealand.
WSP NZ can trace its whakapapa in Aotearoa back 150 years. With this whakapapa and heritage, WSP’s kete holds knowledge from its past and present experience. This uniquely positions WSP to create what matters for future generations and be leaders of this change.