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‘Dare we elevate kāinga as a way of achieving regionalised ecological accountability, and in the process can we bring humanity back into balance with the universe?’

Through his own experience and the stories of his tīpuna, Paul Tapsell (Te Arawa, Tainui) charts the impact of colonisation on his people. Alienation from kāinga and whenua becomes a wider story of environmental degradation and system collapse.

This book is an impassioned plea to step back from the edge. It is now up to the Crown, Tapsell writes, to accept the need for radical change. The ecological costs of colonisation are clear, and yet those same extractive and exploitative models remain foundational today. Only a complete step-change, one that embraces kāinga, can transform our lands and waterways, and potentially become a source of inspiration to the world. 

  • Explores the Māori system of agriculture based on ecological interconnectedness and knowledge passed down through generations.
  • Reveals the extent to which colonial land-grabs and the introduction of plants, insects and animals destroyed the carefully maintained harmony between people and the land which had supported Māori farming while allowing native biodiversity to flourish.
  • Suggests a way forward for Aotearoa – reconciliation and the prospect of marae communities supported to re-establish lost links with whenua, regenerate their land and become generators of agricultural wealth.
  • Paperback book
  • 160 pages
  • Published December 2021
  • ISBN: 9781988587585


Paora/Paul Tapsell is a local tribal member of the Arawa people of the Bay of Plenty. He was raised on the ancestral gardens of his grandparents, named Te Whatitiripataihi (the spine tingling thunderclap signaling time for autumn/fall harvest). Paul Tapsell is Professor of Indigenous Studies at University of Melbourne. His recent work includes a digital web service, designed to assist urban-raised Māori youth reconnect to their ancestral communities (www.maorimaps.com).