SESSION THEME | Values - Lakes


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

Wednesday 1 April,  4:15pm - 4:45pm

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:  Charlotte Šunde & Kiely McFarlane

Social Scientists, Cawthron Institute

Drs Charlotte Šunde and Kiely McFarlane are social scientists at the Cawthron Institute in Nelson. Their current research is on New Zealand lake histories and changing societal attitudes to lakes, reflected in legislation and governance. This forms part of the Lakes380 project ( Charlotte has a PhD in Planning, on cross-cultural understanding in environmental practice. Kiely holds a PhD from the University of British Columbia, focussed on Canadian water governance.


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