Rights: Copyright 2013. University of Waikato. All rights reserved. Published 12 June 2017 Download

NIWA's Maori development officer, Apanui Skipper and Weno Iti, the Te Kūwaha manager (NIWA Māori Development Centre), describe what kaitiakitanga means to them.


Kaitiaki means guardian – a person that has the responsibility to ensuring that their natural resources are going to be left in a sustainable way for the community, so that when they do go down there to harvest or anything like that, there’s going to be food there – not just food of course, but their natural resources, and to ensuring that those natural resources are in good nick.

Those that have been brought up in the, in Māori communities, they would have a strong sense of kaitiakitanga. They’re very, very serious about notions of kaitiakitanga, notions of sustainable ways of working with the environment.

I grew up where kaitiakitanga was fostered in the bush, in the river, those things. But whenever my father and his brothers went pig hunting or to catch tuna, there was always a karakia, those kinds of things. Kaitiakitanga for me is that guidance to how a person should treat a taonga. A taonga is something beautiful, so when we refer to those things like something that’s precious to you, then that is how you would look after that. You would give it its appropriate care. Kaitiakitanga is about respecting those things that mean a lot to you.

Apanui Skipper, Weno Iti, Andrew Swales and Raiha Tuahine, NIWA
Alastair Jamieson/Wild Earth Media, NIWA
Dr Shaun Ogilvie, Dr Dave Taylor, Cawthron
Dave Hamon
Professor Dave Kelly, University of Canterbury