Kia Maia ki te Kanga o Ta Koutou Ahi: Keeping the Home Fires Burning
This thesis articulates physical activities of tangata whenua occupation and use as being central to the operations of ahi ka and fundamental to the demonstration of mana whenua and mana moana. The focus on use and occupation of land expresses ahi ka as a practical tool, but more importantly, as a catalyst of Maori tribal identity and cultural permanency. The customary framework of Nga Tatai Ahi Ka is applied to demonstrate intricacies, flexibility and fragility of ahi ka as a holistic tool, symbolic of identity, permanency and well-being. A richer understanding of ahi ka shows that its practical functions exceeds mere occupation and use by contributing to the socio-political, cultural, spiritual and intellectual landscape of Maori tribal peoples. The visioning of ahi ka casts the indigenous net wider by examining the local context of Mer Islands located in the Torres Strait Archipelago. Meriam customs and practices reveal the Malo ra Gelar framework as a holistic law of organisation, akin to ahi ka . Together, the Nga Ta tai Ahi Ka and Malo ra Gelar frameworks illustrate two complex and pragmatic knowledge systems as an assertion of two indigenous peoples' holistic relationships to their surrounding landscape. The usefulness of this research serves to open up new spaces of inquiry into ahi ka and Malo ra Gelar as holistic applications of self-determination, self-identification, and sovereignty of our future landscape, destinies and realities. Furthermore, its application could extend towards other indigenous nations to continuously challenge their colonial landscapes by privileging their holistic approaches as assertions of autonomy over people and place.