Geothermal gas emission and its impact on hauora and taiao at Whakarewarewa, the Living Village

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Mazot A, Huata R, Bradshaw D, Davy PK, Millar B, Warbrick J, Davis J, Markwitz A. 2019. Geothermal gas emission and its impact on hauora and taiao at Whakarewarewa, the Living Village. Lower Hutt (NZ): GNS Science. 56 p. (GNS Science report; 2019/56). doi:10.21420/9BZ4-7987.

This research explores the effect of Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S), a primary geothermal gas and in a certain extent Carbon Dioxide (CO2), has on humans when exposed to extreme environmental conditions. In this report we document and record the traditional histories/Mātauranga concerning the connection between H2S and the hauora (health) of people at the Whakarewarewa Village. An integrated database helped with the integration of technical, scientific and traditional Māori information, and the support of agile knowledge transfer. Over time, health effects may emerge due to exposure of the people living and working at Whakarewarewa to geothermal gases, but from the local stories of Wāhiao –The people of Whakarewarewa, these natural emissions showed more natural healing than may have been harmful to people. Furthermore, medical studies showed no impact on people’s health. The gas data provided a knowledge-base to be implemented for indigenous hazard assessment and management plans through community awareness. This project underpinned community monitoring, informed future planning, supported geothermal and Māori tourism, and guided scientific investigation. The report combines indigenous knowledge and western science in the field of environmental impact, with respect to geothermal gas emissions. In this report binary information sets are discussed, compared and jointly presented for the benefit of both, indigenous knowledge and western science. H2S is degassing in the geothermal area located in the Whakarewarewa Village, but from this study there was no record of elevated H2S acquired via science nor iwi knowledge. (auth)