Whakapapa, an indigenous form of genealogy of the Māori people of Aotearoa New Zealand, is a powerful tool for understanding social phenomena. In this paper, the environmental histories of Aotearoa New Zealand are converted to whakapapa/genealogical sequences and kōrero tuku iho/narratives derived from whakapapa, to demonstrate this explanatory power. It is argued that whakapapa is much more than a method for mapping kinship relationships. Whakapapa enables vast amounts of information to be collated and analysed, to reveal a multitude of narratives. It also facilitates a critique of indigenous rights issues, revealing Māori agendas for environmental management. Therefore, the whakapapa sequences and narratives created as part of this paper provide an understanding that is not restricted to the grand narrative or the past as whakapapa is never-ending, dynamic, fluid and future-focused.
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