Te maramataka—An Indigenous System of Attuning with the Environment, and Its Role in Modern Health and Well-being
The connection between the natural environment and human health is well documented in Indigenous narratives. The maramataka-a Māori system of observing the relationships between signs, rhythms, and cycles in the environment-is underpinned by generations of Indigenous knowledge, observation, and experimentation. The maramataka enabled Māori and our Pacific relatives to attune with the movements of the environment and ensure activities essential for survival and well-being were conducted at the optimal times. A recent revival of the maramataka in various communities in New Zealand is providing uniquely Indigenous ways to 'reconnect' people, and their health, with the natural environment. In a world where people have become increasingly disconnected from the natural environment, the maramataka offers an alternative to dominant perspectives of health. It also provides a mechanism to enhance the many facets of health through an understanding of the human-ecosystem relationship in a uniquely Indigenous way. This conceptual paper (i) highlights a uniquely Indigenous way of understanding the environment (the maramataka) and its connection to health, (ii) discusses the connections between the maramataka and scientific research on health and the environment, and (iii) introduces current and potential applications of the maramataka in improving health and well-being.