Chapter 24 - Abstract and author bios

24. Ancestors for Sale in Aotearoa–New Zealand

Marama Muru-Lanning

Against the wishes of many Māori and non-Māori New Zealanders the national government privatised the country’s electricity-generating assets in 2014. Using the Māori concept of kaitiakitanga (guardianship) as a lens this chapter examines how privatisation redefines Māori relationships with their lands, resources and ancestral territories. The chapter investigates how Māori understand the sale of electricity companies that draw on resources understood as tūpuna (ancestors), taonga (treasures), atua (supernatural beings) and whānau (family); whether Māori have become shareholders in electricity generating companies and how the new role mediates their duties as kaitiaki (guardians).

Marama Muru-Lanning is Acting Director and a Senior Research Fellow at the James Henare Māori Research Centre for the University of Auckland. She is also an advisor of elderly health projects in the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences. Her research is concerned with debates and critical challenges in social anthropology where she focuses on the cultural specificity of Māori and their unique sense of place and belonging in New Zealand. What distinguishes Marama as a social scientist is her specialisation in water rights, environment and Indigenous issues. She currently holds a Royal Society Marsden Research Grant, is Chair of the Association for Social Anthropology in Oceania and is a Council member of the Journal of the Polynesian Society, New Zealand’s oldest scholarly journal.