Sunday, 2 September 2012
Don't Mimi in the Water
Sometime ago I read - in a book by a Maori writer - it may have been Patricia Grace but I am not quite sure now - anyway, as the text went, the writer and her whanau (family) were down at the beach fishing from the sea and there the children were taught to never mimi in the water but to go up the beach away from the tide and make a hole there. Which they did.
The sea and the rivers were/are the food cupboard for the kai moana (seafood) and not to be used as a toilet.
This was especially important in a land with virtually no mammals bar some island rats (and before colonisation these rats were clean enough to eat - there was no rubbish to contaminate the rats). Protein was fish, birds including seabirds, and seals. What happens to the water has an impact on us all - water is life.
So tonight I was watching a very well researched documentary on Maori TV about a river here in Aotearoa New Zealand which has had industrial waste and town sewage pumped into it every day for years. Aerial shots show this once proud river brown and murky, the filthy bloom spread out into the sea and past the reefs where the shellfish used to grow huge and feed the local population - now they can't eaten at all. Surfers and swimmers find themselves experiencing stomach illnesses. One woman described opening a shellfish only to find a brown slimey goo.
We (speaking generally), in the Western world, we wipe out our houses obsessively with expensive chemicals and we think ourselves clean while in fact we are living in the midst of filth. We flush our chemicals unthinkingly down our waterways, we eat the food produced on farms which leach artificial fertilisers and sprays onto the land and into our lakes, we allow factories to spew industrial waste into our rivers and ultimately all of this finds it's way into the seas.
We are using our entire environment as though it is one great big toilet.