Predator Free pathways: Whānau, hapū and iwi expressing kaitiakitanga

Department of Conservation —  13/03/2020

With the launch of the Predator Free 2050 strategy: ‘Towards a Predator Free New Zealand’, we’re doing a series of blogs about the pathways identified in the strategy which are going to help us get to Predator Free.

One of those pathways is mā nga whanau, hapū, iwi e whakatau I tō rātou kaitiakitanga – whānau, hapū and iwi expressing kaitiakitanga. Pou Tairangahau, Huia Lloyd, shares her thoughts on how the strategy has reflected Mātauranga Māori values.

I have to admit, when I was first asked to participate in the development of the Predator Free 2050 strategy, I was a bit ‘meh’. My first thought was ‘Great, another strategy, a whole lot of talking, chuck in a few conversations with Iwi, include a sprinkle of Māori titles and words to Treaty Partner it up, then a whole lot of time on a bookshelf gathering dust’

I was interested to see if the integrity of developing it with whānau, hapū and Iwi would stay throughout the design and implementation and how this strategy would accurately reflect Mātauranga Māori.

The fundamental principle of Mātauranga Māori values the human connection physically and spiritually to the world around us – land, water, forests, air, species. We are an essential part of an ecosystem, and ecosystems are an integral part of us. This connection is transmitted through mauri, mana and whakapapa using kawa (cultural practices) and tikanga (cultural principles).

Tawa forest in mist, near summit of Kapiti Island. 📷: Leon Berard

Mauri is commonly used to explain the energy or essence that binds and animates all things in the physical world. It can be applied to a physical object, individual, ecosystem or social group in which this essence is located. 

The mauri of a person or species continues to exist, even if its form changes. Think of a whale or bird whose mauri continues to exist when its teeth, bone or feathers appear in another form like a necklace, musical instrument, weapon or korowai.  This change cultivates mana and whakapapa. 

Whakapapa is the connection of all things through kinship. It is not limited to be between people, but includes flora, fauna, land, water: the whole ecosystem.

Kaitiakitanga is a relatively new popular term to describe ‘guardianship’ and ‘custodianship’. For whānau, hapū and Iwi, kaitiakitanga is also about responsibility. In the tribal area where I am from, my ancestors blood, and therefore my blood is deeply rooted in the ground. I have some accountability of everything that is special and unique to there – flora, fauna, land, water, people. They all have a whakapapa and are connected to me as I am to them. 

Hamiora Stretch checking a stoat trap at Te Teko. 📷: Sabine Bernert ©

The Predator Free 2050 Strategy is a fantastic attempt and opportunity to engage these Mātauranga Māori value sets. There is already a wealth of knowledge among agencies and organisations concerned with protecting indigenous species that is gathered, held and shared. Mātauranga Māori has been doing the same, just in different data sets and knowledge systems. 

PF2050 is the opportunity for the whole Predator Free movement to increase knowledge sharing and decision making and restoring the mauri to our biodiversity. 

So do I still feel ‘meh’. To be honest, I’m not sure. But I do feel like Predator Free 2050 is an honest attempt to have a Māori framework to create space for realising there is no ‘one way’ of doing things. This has the potential to be a tool for whānau, hapū and Iwi to apply different knowledge systems and management decisions that are closer to Mātauranga Māori values and worldviews.

Let’s just be brave enough and go there. Mauri Ora!

Towards a Predator Free New Zealand

A future Aotearoa, flourishing with abundant native wildlife and forests is the bold vision that has galvanized thousands of New Zealanders into active support for a predator free New Zealand by 2050.

The Predator Free 2050 strategy, ‘Towards a Predator Free New Zealand’, sets out a framework over the next 30 years for New Zealand to address the current biodiversity crisis and achieve the predator free goal.

One response to Predator Free pathways: Whānau, hapū and iwi expressing kaitiakitanga

    Colin Ryder 13/03/2020 at 1:45 pm

    This is great.