Nándor Tánczos describes himself as a Dad, social ecologist, educator, permaculturalist and a Whakatāne District Councillor. Others describe him as New Zealand’s first Rastafarian MP and one our our first Green MPs. We talk about what drives him, how he became socially active (radicalised in Darlington!), his new project – social permaculture, and our bigger goal – to recreate our society and culture as a homeotelic culture.
We need to be better at imagining and rehearsing paradise
That awoke me to the potential – a transformation of consciousness.
The soft infrastructure is just as important for well-being
Social permaculture – how do we apply ideas of permaculture to regenerating society?
We need to avoid ecology becoming a reductionist science.
I’ve been inspired by Goldsmith‘s concept of homeotelic – to maintain and enhance the integrity of the whole. The default behaviour of any healthy part of the system serves to maintain and enhance the integrity of the whole. Human culture was – Goldsmith calls it the vernacular culture – and can be homeotelic – but in our industrialised culture the default behaviour of human individuals serves to undermine and degrade the integrity of the ecological whole. Our industrial society is hetereotelic. It was a real moment for me, realising that the task is to recreate our society and culture as a homeotelic culture. So it’s about mindset.
This whole reality is our collective creation – we can change it.
There’s a profound shift taking place.
Superpower: ability to work with different people
Challenge: Writing. We need people to be painting how things could be different.
Louise Shaw describes herself as an earthbuilder, a teacher, a gardener, a mother (and new grandmother). She and her family live near Whakatane where we talk about building soil and regenerating ecological systems.
We need to change our view of capital, a bigger picture, a longer picture – soil is our capital, we need to build and improve that.
I can’t be self sufficient unless I’m living in a sufficient world
Ordinary but extraordinary
The more you start making (our impacts) visible, the more ugly it becomes. We’ve become good at hiding that, but we need to fix the ugliness.
People talk about better life not a lesser life, and it’s true, we’re so rich it’s awesome.
We can’t just be self-sufficient, we have to be community sufficient.
Positive, but shit-scared.
There’s so much learning in every single day. These things add up to big things.
Superpower: Doing it. Sniffing out other people doing it. A virtuous circle and community.
Dr Rob Whitbourne works in conservation in Whakatāne. We talk about how he came to be involved in conservation and how this is driven by Rongoā Māori medicine.
(note: We apologise for the sound quality of this conversation, the main recorder failed, so this is the back-up. All hail the back-up).
Always into nature
Lucky that our playgrounds and experience in life was always based around the bush. My father was always a bushman…when you grow up with people like that they impart on you a sense of understanding….You grow up knowing the names of the trees, where different birds nest, how trees change during the seasons
Sense of curiosity and understanding
(after teenage years in Australia) For a long time after I came back I had this sense of the New Zealand bush as this foreboding dark forest
I went to a rongoā wānanga, a workshop on traditional medicines…it opened my eyes, gave me a feeling of really knowing the bush
PhD focussing on traditional crops and how their significance is maintained today…The bigger question: how indigenous communities engage with research institutes?
The social side of knowledge, isn’t given the same focus – especially when it comes to Western Science and indigenous knowledge systems – the focus is often on factual knowledge and deeper assumptions, ontologies.. and the social stuff isn’t given that much attention..and that leads to a focus on difference…here’s the body of knowledge that one system has, and here’s the body of knowledge that this other system has, or a deeper level, we see the world this way and you see the world that way. That tends to draw out difference and it doesn’t give much room for common ground or interaction.
If we put more attention on the social side of things, on the practitioners, how can the people who do Mātauranga Māori, or people who practice indigenous knowledge in Peruvian communities, how can they best interact? How do the people interact? So the questions are of who has decision making control? How do you respectfully engage with and respond to each others knowledge traditions?
It’s too easy to say these indigenous ideas of nature having a spiritual element, well empiricism doesn’t deal with that so they’re incompatible. But if we say people who work and live in urban institutes and others who live in rural communities, they speak different languages, they have different values, they make decisions in different ways, how can those come together? That gives you more scope to work together.
We lose knowledge when our people are depleted. The two are the same.
We might be lucky to name 5 or 6 plants. We know the world we are familiar with, today we might know 300 logos, before it was 300 plants and animals.
How do we get people connected, to feel part of those places? We are those places
We need to find the spark that’s already there for people – in my case it was rongoā o wananga.
It’s a love of those places, and a love for each other in those places, we are those places.
Environmental management is really people management
A Māori perspective – we are all family (people and land), do you know your family, do you care for them? I’m surrounded by my family.
It reminds us that we are part of something bigger than ourselves.
Activist: Yes, I’ve always stood up to confront and fight for the positive. In a sense of accelerated disruption and destruction there’s a real need for urgency.
Superpower: A genuine commitment to the world around me and its people. I’m an idealist, positive. Maybe that comes from the sense of being I have.
Challenge: conservation on Māori land.
Advice: All of these things require the collective, none you can do on your own.