Environment - Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu


Environmental Kaitiakitanga

The Vision:
Our dream is that our ancestral landscape is protected and our people have living relationships with their whakapapa and traditions through the environment. The goal is that Ngāi Tahu is a principled kaitiaki (steward) of our takiwā (tribal territory).

Survival in the harsh climate of Te Waipounamu demanded the wise use of all available resources, processing and preserving these for times of need. Whānau travelled the takiwā to gather food and other resources on a seasonal basis and in the process helped weave together the social structure of the iwi through alliances and intermarriage.

Our lands have always been fundamental to our tribal identity. We know our place in the world through our whakapapa to our takiwā, it carries our stories of creation, warfare, marriage and times of change. Restoring our tribal footprint to our ancestral landscape, in both traditional and contemporary forms, is a galvanising force within the iwi.

Our relationship with the natural environment was at the heart of Te Kerēme – The Ngāi Tahu Claim, and much of the Ngāi Tahu Settlement gives expression to our relationship with the takiwā. The Settlement restored our place names, recognised our histories, vested ownership of tribal taonga in the iwi and provided for Ngāi Tahu people to be members of important decision making bodies, such as the New Zealand Conservation Authority. These tools are immensely significant to the iwi as symbolic recognition of our whakapapa, but more importantly, they allow us to honour our values of kaitiakitanga (environmental guardianship).

Kaitiakitanga is expressed in many different ways. Papatipu Rūnanga plant native species, negotiate how development can ensure that fish and eels can still travel from spawning grounds to the sea, put detailed submissions into government planning processes and closely monitor the health and wellbeing of the environment. The responsibility of kaitiakitanga is felt deeply by our whānau and rūnanga because our landscape and its resources are the main inheritance we will leave future generations.

Our people also need opportunities to reclaim their heritage and to express our values in this rapidly changing world. Te Rūnanga is using the 21st century technology of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to record and map ancient place names and oral histories. We also support rūnanga to come together to collectively manage resources, such as fisheries. Outwardly how Ngāi Tahu practices kaitiakitanga will continue to change, but the reasons for doing so and the values associated with it will remain constant across generations.

Environment Stories

Conservation project hopes to maintain momentum

The leader of a Jobs for Nature project run by Te Hapū o Ngāti Wheke, in partnership with Living Springs and Conservation Volunteers New Zealand, is welcoming a funding transition strategy designed to keep the mahi going. Jobs for Nature is a $1.19 billion programme that manages funding across multiple government agencies to benefit the…

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Māra Moana: Kelp reseeding in Whakaraupō/ Lyttelton

May 12th Our moana is changing fast and the warming of our seas is creating new and complex challenges for the life within them. In Aotearoa we are ‘experiencing longer and more intense marine heatwaves that are going beyond the thermal threshold of some of our native kelp populations’ which is having significant effects on…

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Ngāi Tahu attend The United Nations Water Conference 2023

17 April 2023 Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu Kaiwhakahaere and Te Kura Taka Pini Co-Chair Lisa Tumahai has recently returned to the Ngāi Tahu takiwā after attending The United Nations Water Conference 2023 in New York. The occasion marked the first time in forty-six years that global leaders have come together to address worldwide water…

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For us and our children

MŌ TĀTOU, Ā, MO KĀ URI A MURI AKE NEI – FOR US AND OUR CHILDREN AFTER US By Matiu Wikaira, Technical Forester, Ngāi Tahu Forestry Limited “I te timatanga mai ko te kore – In the beginning there was nothing” Since their arrival from Polynesia, Māori, the Indigenous people of New Zealand, have maintained…

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The growing mana of the kākāpō

The rimu are expected to mast in the South this summer, supporting the kākāpō population to breed again. Following highly successful breeding seasons in 2016 and 2019, the kākāpō population is doing well and is currently sitting at 201 individual birds.

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