J a c q u i O 'R e i l l y
Te Awa Kairangi / Hutt River
The Te Awa Kairangi / Hutt River flows for 56 kilometres through the southern region of
the North Island of Aoteoroa New Zealand. Prior to 1855 the river was a major arterial
route for Māori in the lower and upper valley and mountainous pass of this southern
region. The river was a significant freshwater fishery, with species such as pātiki
(flounder), kanae (mullet), piharau (lamprey), kōkopu (giant and banded bully fish),
īnanga (whitebait), ngaore (smelt), and long-finned tuna (eel) being abundant.
This river, along with over half of all rivers in Aotearoa New Zealand, is polluted with
toxic algae due to the impact of the dairy industry and its rapid growth of mass
production over the last thirty years. New Zealand now supplies over a third of the
global market’s dairy products. Māori in the North and South Islands have begun legal
proceedings against the Crown regarding the degradation of fresh water systems,
including an unprecedented High Court challenge. These proceedings seek recognition
for Māori of rangatiratanga, or chieftainship, over freshwater, so they may intervene in
this ecological crisis to reverse degradation through authority and autonomy.