Māori have an ancestral and multi-generational relationship with the land
Māori have strong cultural and spiritual connections with their land, protected under New Zealand law. In particular, the Resource Management Act 1991 recognises that Māori, as Tangata whenua, have an ancestral relationship with the land. This relationship gives rise to the ongoing rights and responsibilities of kaitiakitanga.
Kaitiakitanga “denotes the obligations of stewardship and protection ... [and] is most often applied to the obligation of whānau, hapū and iwi to protect the spiritual wellbeing of natural resources within their mana”(New Zealand Law Commission, 2001, p. 40). Kaitiakitanga is closely linked to whanaungatanga – the organisation of relationships through whakapapa or familial connections. The Waitangi Tribunal explains:
Kaitiakitanga is really a product of whanaungatanga – that is, it is an intergenerational obligation that arises by virtue of the kin relationship. It is not possible to have Kaitiakitanga without whanaungatanga. In the same way, whanaungatanga always creates kaitiakitanga obligations. (Waitangi Tribunal, 2011, p. 105)
Kaitiakitanga is about ensuring that future generations have a relationship with Te Ao Tūroa that sustains them in the way that generations before have been sustained.
Measures to reduce GHG emissions from land-use are likely also to have benefits in protecting the health (mauri or life-supporting properties) of New Zealand’s lands, forests and waterways. Māori values about land and the natural environment, and the multi-generational perspective these entails, are a potential source of strength in New Zealand’s search for a path to a low-emissions economy.