SESSION THEME | Values - Lakes

NZ LAKES: OUR FORGOTTEN HISTORIES

Reflecting on forgotten histories, neglected values and silenced voices in New Zealand lake policy

Wednesday 1 April,  

The health of waterways and people who interact with them are key political and policy issues at present that are likely to significantly shape New Zealand's regional planning and resource management into the future. Yet, lakes continue to suffer from a historical legacy of limited awareness, monitoring, and consequently protection. The Lakes380 science project seeks to re-centre lakes - their health and values - in the national freshwater discourse by reconstructing their forgotten histories, including their paleolimnology, connections to tūpuna, and changing social uses and values. We build on interviews with freshwater experts in the policy sector and draw from an analysis of key legislation and regulatory instruments since 1840. This presentation explores how certain lake 'imaginaries' have prevailed and shaped freshwater management, and exposes whose voices and which values are overlooked in the process. We assert that New Zealand's large tourist lakes have dominated lake legislation, public perceptions, and management for decades, resulting in lack of appreciation for the full diversity of lake environments across the country, and contributing to the degradation of less visible yet locally and culturally prized lakes. We argue that private property rights, governance fragmentation, and an under-resourced environmental sector have all fostered this public disconnection from lake environments. Nevertheless, lakes continue to hold significant value and meaning to tangata whenua, communities, scientists, and landholders. Drawing on Lakes380 project research on specific lake histories, this presentation concludes by considering how we - practitioners, researchers, and communities - might better attune to the diversity of lake values and voices in New Zealand.

Presenters:  Dr Charlotte Šunde & Dr Kiely McFarlane

DR CHARLOTTE ŠUNDE 
Social Scientist, Cawthron Institute

Dr Charlotte Šunde is a social scientist at the Cawthron Institute in Nelson. She is currently contributing to the Lakes380 project (www.lakes380.com), together with Dr Kiely McFarlane, through an analysis of New Zealand lake histories and changing societal attitudes to lakes, reflected in legislation and governance. Charlotte has a PhD in Planning, on cross-cultural understanding in environmental practice. 

DR KIELY MCFARLANE
Postdoctoral Researcher, Cawthron Institute

Dr Kiely McFarlane is a social scientist at the Cawthron Institute in Nelson, with interests in freshwater policy and governance. She is currently contributing to the Lakes380 project (www.lakes380.com), together with Charlotte Šunde, through an analysis of New Zealand lake histories and changing societal attitudes to lakes, reflected in legislation and governance. Kiely's PhD research at the University of British Columbia, Canada, examined the transformative potential of water law reform.

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