In traditional Maori knowledge, wai (water) is classified in a number of ways. Some of these categories include: Te Mauri (the lifeforce) of every Maori is their natural resource, nga awa (rivers). Wai (water) he waiora (to sustain life), he waitapu (sacred water, waters used for ceremonial purposes), he waimaori (pure water, water rich in mauri, used for cleansing and for ceremonial purposes), he waimanawa-whenua (water from under the land).
All cultures have been fascinated by water — its moods, nature, strength and tranquility. Like fire, water is a crucial life-giving element that is also destructive.
Sages have used water to guide and predict human behaviour, or for ritual purposes, believing that its cleansing properties reach beyond the physical plane of human existence to the spiritual plane.
In Maori culture, many tribes directly or indirectly consider water as the source or foundation of all life. This is reflected in traditions which speak of te taha wairua, often translated as “the spiritual plane (of existence)”. The term te taha wairua is widely used to refer to the “real world”, which lies both behind and within the world of normal experience.
Much of life, according to the traditional world view, is concerned with coming to see, experience and understand the interplay of this “real world” with our more limited everyday life.
Te taha wairua can literally be translated as “the dimension of two waters”, a conception that likens spirituality to water.
Our whenua and all contained therein are a part of our wairua (sacred spiritual being); take these away, we perish. We as their kaitiaki (guardians) have been charged with the responsibility to care and nurture these sacred resources for the generations that are here now and those yet to be born. Hei kona.