Respecting the earth, soil, and underground forces

Respecting the earth, soil, and underground forces holds profound significance in the small island environments of Te Moananui Oceania. The rich cultural heritage is deeply intertwined with their natural surroundings. Atua, such as Papatūānuku and Rūaumoko in Aotearoa (New Zealand), Papahānaumoku and Honua in Hawai’i, Hikule’o in Tonga, and Papa in the Cook Islands, are thought of as embodiments of the earth mother. The relationship between the people and these Atua is characterized by reciprocity, respect and stewardship. Recognising and respecting the relationship between people and the earth is not only a cultural imperative but also a practical necessity in the fragile island ecosystems of Te Moananui Oceania. Sustainable land management practices, conservation efforts, and community-driven initiatives are essential for preserving the ecologies, biodiversity, and resilience of island environments particularly as the climate changes and the seas rise. The following nature-based solutions may be useful in celebrating, regenerating or respecting the earth, soil, and underground forces.