Monday, July 15, 2024

Wellington sludge plant gifted Māori name

A te reo Māori name for the sludge minimisation facility being built at Moa Point has been formalised during a site blessing today.

The name, Te Whare Wai Para Nuku, was gifted during a Matariki ceremony at the construction site this morning. 

Sludge minimisation facility project director, Janet Molyneux says it has always been important that the way sludge is treated aligns with the values of mana whenua. 

“These names also point to the circular nature of what we’re going to achieve, with the treated sludge being able to be used in useful ways, rather than always buried in the landfill as it is now.

“It’s also great that the name supports and acknowledges how important what we are doing is for future generations to come.” 

Kaitohutohu of the sludge minimisation facility, Nate Rowe (Ngāti Mutunga, Ngāti Porou, Rongowhakaata, Te Whānau-a-Tauranga, Te Whānau-a-Taiaoa), researched tikanga that was traditionally practiced to make sure kene or sludge was safely managed, keeping both people and their taiao (environment) safe.

He says the name relates back to the values of mana whenua and the project. 

“The essence of the name is aspirational, nuku relates to one of the prime atua Papatuanuku. It’s aspirational because of the potential for the product to go back into the environment.”

“It’s a constantly aspirational thing for whoever is operating the facility, that they know the mana of the name, and they uphold that now and into the future.” 

To ground the name, a ruruku or karakia has been introduced onsite to encapsulate the meaning of the name in a way that reminds everyone why the facility and its technology is being built and why it is important for the future of the city.

Wellington City Council Deputy Mayor, Laurie Foon says Te Whare Wai Para Nuku will help protect the environment from the waste created by the city, and having such a meaningful name gifted helps to convey that important message.

“We’re honoured by the thought mana whenua has put into coming up with this name, they’ve really captured the spirit of what we’re trying to achieve by creating a solution for our sludge that is better for the environment, lowering emissions and helping us divert waste from landfill.” 

Te Whare Wai Para Nuku will break the link between the wastewater treatment process and landfill, removing the necessity to bury 40-50 tonnes of sludge in landfill waste each day. 

Staff working on site are given cultural inductions, and training on the meaning and narrative of the name and of the importance of the work being done.

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