Māori cultural values and soil fertility management – an exploratory study
Collectively owned Māori farming entities work much of the remaining Māori freehold land in Aotearoa New Zealand (~5% of total) and the majority of these are registered in the Māori Land Court. The effective and sustainable management of these farms is vital to
landowners (e.g., whānau/hapū/iwi) whose prosperity is dependent on the wealth and strength of connection generated from this land (whenua), which is also a source of wellbeing. There are some distinct features of the institutional factors of Māori farms that impact on how they are managed. For example, because Māori land can never be sold (Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993), realising capital gain is not an option for Māori farmers. Māori farm managers hence focus on cashflow and profit within the farming operations, which can sometimes put pressure on important yet discretionary investment expenditures, such as fertiliser costs (Cottrell 2016). However, as nutrients are taken off farms through animal products, soil fertility management is fundamental to the replenishing of nutrients on farms to maintain productivity and profitability (Haynes and Williams 1993). Consequently, fertiliser costs take up a significant proportion of farm expenditure for most New ealand farms, impacting on their profitability (Hedley 2015). The retention and control of Māori land remains a top priority for Māori land managers, with whom the continuous provision of return through productivity or profitability is seen as essential for landowners (e.g., whānau), and the long-term sustainable management
and delivery of services is largely driven by cultural values. So, where does the balance lie between ongoing provision and potentially discretionary expenditure? The present research set out to explore the nuances behind such a question.
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