Ā Mātou Whanonga Pono
What We Stand For
Te Tira Whakamātaki is a values-based organisation.
Our work is guided by the values we live by:
Our interpretation of them and what they mean to our work is defined below.
Acknowledging and elevating Māori experts, kaitiaki, knowledge, and lore to environmental spaces.
We seek out, empower, promote, and protect experts, leaders, and knowledge holders/users (kaitiaki) of mātauranga Māori so that their voice can be elevated, well-supported, and appropriately resourced. The design and delivery of our work acknowledges and provides spaces for tohunga and kaitiaki to meaningfully contribute our lore to environmental spaces.
In other words, we privilege and safeguard the knowledge of iwi, hapū, and whānau because they are best suited to lead environmental rejuvenation and restoration strategies in Aotearoa – New Zealand.
Part of Te Tira Whakamātaki’s role is to protect tohunga, kaitiaki, and Māori knowledge from being misused or stolen by creating opportunities for engagement, research, and policy change, focused on promoting and appropriately using mātauranga Māori.
We further action this value by educating the Crown and other non-Māori entities on te ao Māori to confirm that our people’s knowledge is present in colonial decision-making places (including advocacy for using the appropriate processes, protocols, and laws governing access to such knowledge).
Upholding the mana of everything and everyone with kindness, generosity, respect, decolonization, and equitable practices.
Our activities and efforts embody the expectations of care and reciprocity to the taiao (environment), and those living in it, that is inherent to Māori society. We elevate the mana of those we work with by creating and maintaining a healthy connection to the environment through our research, engagement, and policy work. Successfully doing so helps prevent environmental degradation and allows for mana to be fulfilled.
Manaakitanga for us is also about decolonizing systems that have prevented a healthy connection with the environment, and we approach this with kindness, generosity, respect, and equity. It also means we embody and advocate for anti-oppressive principles and practices on a day-to-day basis through our research, activities, and partnerships.
Finally, we endorse policies and research that are based in mātauranga Māori because they embody manaakitanga and are our best chance to restore mauri (life force) to its original state. By fulfilling these fundamental responsibilities in our work, we can improve the lives of everything and everyone living in Aotearoa – New Zealand.
Fostering reciprocal relationships built on the intention of strengthening connections, especially between people and te taiao.
We actively foster and maintain relationships between iwi, hapū, whānau, kaitiaki, experts, research organizations, and governments to ensure the strong connections necessary to create long-term, positive environmental impact. Whanaungatanga also serves as a reminder to foster reciprocal relationships, including our task to strengthen Māori communities by creating spaces and places for sharing ideas and mobilizing communities committed to decolonizing environmental systems, including spaces for youth.
We also intend for Te Tira Whakamātaki to be a physical and metaphorical place where Māori and allied researchers feel a sense of genuine belonging and a place where they can enhance their connection with the environment without burden or barrier.
Asserting Māori rights, sovereignty, and law in everything we do.
Using our skills, network of kaitiaki, and TTW’s systemic position we work to ensure that taiao policy, research, and governance genuinely reflects Māori rights and ways of governance, including our law.
Our work is designed to pave the way so that Māori kaitiaki are empowered to exercise independence and sovereignty over the taiao, meaning it is fundamentally rooted in Te Tiriti principles, UNDRIP, and actioned through our facilitation of subsequent partnerships between Māori and the Crown.
We also demonstrate rangatiratanga by promoting honest, transparent, and measurable leadership in the environmental space. This means safeguarding Māori data sovereignty, ensuring Māori kaitiaki have access to vital information, and by staunchly advocating for environmental research/policy that reflects the needs and priorities of iwi, hapū, and whānau.
Finally, we focus on decolonizing and transforming current environmental systems to better reflect mātauranga Māori and, working alongside our other values, shift research and decision-making power from institutions to Māori.
Living and interacting with te taiao on our own terms (self-determination).
In all aspects of Te Tira Whakamātaki’s design and delivery, we enable the right for Māori to be Māori (self-determination). We create spaces and places where Māori can freely exercise their authority over their lives and taonga tuku iho (bio heritage). To us, this means using our skills, networks, research, and policy work to ensure Māori can live their lives and interact with the taiao on their own terms and according to Māori philosophies, values, and practices including tikanga (culture), kawa (traditions) and whakapono (beliefs) Māori, without any repercussion, dismissal, and/or purposeful exclusion by non-Māori entities.
Wairuatanga is built directly into our governance structure, via our Kāhui Māori, and is a core principle that enables us to go where we are needed, when we are asked, in a safe manner.
Finally, we use our position within the broader research and government systems to look out for and correct instances where tikanga Māori (Māori ways of being) are being intentionally or unintentionally ignored or misused.
Acting on our responsibility and right to care for and protect te taiao.
Kaitiakitanga speaks to the intergenerational responsibility and right of Māori as tāngata whenua to care for and protect the environment, its bounty and mauri, for our children and mokopuna (grandchildren), and is closely linked to manaakitanga. Simply, we have a responsibility to show care towards the environment and everything in it because it protects, sustains, and cares for us. This is a responsibility that we inherited from our whakapapa (descent) and extends to all life on earth.
To deliver on this responsibility we promote and protect mātauranga Māori and its associated kaitiaki at every step in our research, education, engagement, and mobilisation processes to ensure it leads Aotearoa – New Zealand’s environmental decision making and on-the-ground work.
One driving force behind this is our active contribution to the expansion and capacity of a global network of kaitiaki to ensure Indigenous solutions are privileged to address the climate and biodiversity crisis. However, we also simultaneously guard the intellectual property of Māori and Indigenous peoples from misuse.