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.

Kai-ti-a-ki-tang-a

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’.

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