The Maori language (Te Reo Maori) has a lot of cool concepts inherent in the language itself. One word I learned recently is quite a mouthful, but the concept behind the word is pretty rad.

The word is kaitiakitanga.

I know it looks like a whole lot of syllallallables strung together, but sound it out and let it roll off your tongue.


Instead of defining it myself, I’ll defer to Te Papa, the national museum of New Zealand.

Kaitiakitanga – the protection and preservation of the gifts of our ancestors for future generations, most commonly defined as guardianship, but is also regarded in a wider sense as care and management of all resources – an expression of the responsibility of iwi and hapū to protect and care for taonga for future generations. Many also see it as an expression of rangatiratanga – ‘rangatiratanga is the authority for kaitiakitanga to be exercised’ (Merata Kawharu, Kaitiakitanga: A Māori Anthropological Perspective of the Māori Socio-environmental Ethic of Resource Management, The Journal of the Polynesian Society, Vol. 110, No. 4, 2000). See also M. Marsden and T. A. Henare, Kaitiakitanga – A Definitive Introduction to the Holistic World View of the Māori, November 1992.

(Iwi is analogous to tribe, hapū is an extended family within the tribe (like a sub-tribe), taonga is cultural treasure.)

So “kaitiakitanga” is like “conservation,” but the word itself contains the purpose and the context of the conservation.

That’s pretty bitchin’.