Sustainability is not a fad. Its a belief. A life long pursuit.
Our tupuna (Maori ancestors) were the original kaitiaki (resource managers) of Aotearoa. Kaitiakitanga is a responsibility that has now passed to us, the present generation.
The true essence of kaitiakitanga is transferred from one generation to the next, from a father to son – mother to daughter. It is transferred through a combination of whakapapa, belief and practice, hence the practice is closely held within close knit communities of Iwi, hapu and whanau.
Others try to redefine kaitiakitanga but to us its meaning is simple. It is both an obligation and a desire to provide for the needs of our whanau and of those in our community who cannot provide for themselves, in a way that will allow our children a future ability to do the same for their whanau.
The concept is often misconstrued and constrained to mean conservation and preservation. While these are essential components, defining kaitiakitanga in this way is one-dimensional because it ignores the aspect of providing for the needs of the whanau. They are in fact oppressive in that they fail to recognise the need for Maori, as a developing nation, to develop their assets.
Our people feature in the worst statistics on poverty, ill-health, suicide, unemployment and more. Commercial fisheries is a vital source of income to provide the foundation toward a self-determined and autonomous solution to these ills. But more than this, it reconnects us with the past and the cultural practices that our ancestors once performed and enjoyed when they fished these waters some 1,000 years ago.