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Kaitiakitanga Essay Outline

Western and Mäori Values for Sustainable Development


David Rei Miller, Ngäti Tüwharetoa, Ngäti Kahungunu, MWH New Zealand Ltd


Forestry, fishery and agriculture account for $1 billion of the $1.9 billion Māori economy annually, but these industries are under threat from environmental destruction and unsustainable resource use. Māori leaders of today and tomorrow must negotiate the interface between Te Ao Māori and Western science to ensure long-term sustainability of the environment, society, economy and cultural values. 

This paper examines the Māori and Western scientific worldviews, describing the fundamental differences and emerging similarities found at the interface. The emerging mindset in Western sustainability science has notions compatible with and complementary to mātauranga Māori. The current legislative framework requires and enables partnerships between Tangata Whenua and local government in resource management.  

Case studies are given that strive to meet the objectives of both parties. In general, these have proved successful, but there are areas where improvement is needed. It is concluded that Māori are well-placed to become world leaders in sustainability.  


As the 20th century drew to a close, we began writing a new chapter in the history of Aotearoa. In 2004, Mäori have greater control over resource management and decision making than at any time in our colonial past. Treaty settlements, iwi ventures and partnerships with government have been used to bring the Mäori economy into the marketplace of the modern world, the global economy. However, the global economy and humanity in general are now facing enormous challenges due to resource depletion and environmental degradation. Forestry, fishery and agriculture  account for $1 billion of the $1.9 billion Mäori economy annually (NZIER, 2003). These industries are greatly at risk from threats such as global climate change, seasonal algal blooms, acidification of the atmosphere and unsustainable resource use.  

The Māori leaders of tomorrow must be aware of their unique relationship with the environment, and of ways in which the long-term sustainability of the environment, society, the economy and cultural values can be ensured. It is not enough to simply achieve short-term goals of economic progress. It is necessary for Māori leaders to negotiate the interface between Te Ao Māori and Te Ao Whānui, so that Māori can be citizens of the world while still retaining cultural identity. The four signposts to guide this negotiation are the exercise of control, the transmission of worldviews, participation in decision-making and the delivery of multiple benefits (Durie, 2001). 

The objective of this paper is to examine the worldviews of Māori and Western science with regard to sustainability (the ability to meet the needs of the present generation while ensuring that the needs of future generations may be met). The interface between the two worldviews is examined, with the hypothesis that there is an area of common ground enabling Western and Māori principles of sustainability to be used for mutual gain. Government legislation providing a framework for partnerships between Tangata Whenua and local government to manage resources is described. Several case studies are examined which strive to meet the objectives of both parties to ensure the sustainability of the environment, society, economy and cultural values. 

Mātauranga Mäori and Kaitiakitanga 

The Māori Worldview 

Long ago, Tane Mahuta ascended the poutama into heaven and brought back three baskets, containing knowledge of the worlds Tua-Uri, Te Aro-Nui and Tua-Atea. 

Tua-Uri is the world of dark that existed before the natural world we now perceive. This world lasted for 27 nights, each of which spanned an aeon of time. Tua-Uri cannot be perceived by direct means. It is where cosmic processes originated that operate as complex, rhythmic energy patterns upholding, sustaining and replenishing the life energy of the natural world. Tua-Uri is the place where all things are gestated, evolved and refined before becoming manifest in Te Aro-Nui, the natural world of sense perception. Tua-Uri and Te Aro-Nui are part of the cosmic process, but not ultimate reality. 

Tua-Atea is the third world, which is infinite and eternal, existing beyond space and time. This is the abode of Io, the creator, and is the transcendent, eternal world of the spirit. It was before Tua-Uri, and is the ultimate reality which Te Aro-Nui is tending towards.  

Throughout the genealogy of the cosmic process, mauri, hihiri, mauri-ora and hau-ora occur at different stages. Mauri occurs early on in the genealogy of the cosmic process. It is the force that penetrates and binds all things. As the various elements of the universe diversify, mauri acts to keep them all in unison. Hihiri is pure energy, manifested as radiation or light. It is a refined form of mauri and is an aura which radiates from matter, especially living things. Mauri-ora is the life principle, further refined beyond hihiri. Mauri-ora is the binding force that makes life possible. Hau-ora is the breath of the spirit, infused into the cosmic process to give birth to animate beings. The genealogy from hau-ora through to Ranginui and Papatuanuku is shown in Figure 1: 

Figure 1: Early Genealogy of the Universe (Marsden and Henare, 1992) 



























































From the union of Ranginui and Papatuanuku came the atua, including Tane Mahuta guardian of the forest, Tangaroa of the ocean, Haumietiketike who presided over wild foods and Rongomatane whose domain was cultivated crops. The resources under the protection of each atua emanate from them, and have spiritual and physical aspects. 

Hineahuone, the first human, was created by Tane breathing life into the earth. Humans are both descended from and created by the atua, and hold both divine and mortal principles. 

Māori Mythology 

The worldview of the Māori is expressed most frequently through the use of myths or legends. Māori myths and legends form the central system on which a holistic view of the universe is based. 

Myths and legends were neither fables embodying primitive faith in the supernatural, nor marvellous fireside stories of ancient times. They were deliberate constructs employed by the ancient seers and sages to encapsulate and condense into easily assimilated forms their view of the world of ultimate reality and the relationship between the creator, the universe and man. 

(Marsden and Henare, 1992) 

Atua provided a rational and orderly way of living and perceiving the environment. For Māori the environment exists on several different levels at once. A mountain can be the personification of a particular atua, as well as being rock, a resource to be utilised, and having qualities such as beautiful or cold. This worldview has a number of connotations for resource gathering and management. The appropriate karakia must be spoken when gathering resources, for example when felling a tree to ensure the blessing of Tane Mahuta. Desecration of resources is destruction in a physical sense, but also an insult to the spiritual powers who created them (Kawharu, 1998). 

The physical world was these atua. Tane was a tree, also Tane was a person, likewise, water was Tangaroa. They were not silly, they knew water was wet and all that, but they also knew it as Tangaroa. 

(O’Regan, 1984) 

Māori perceptions of reality (in other words, what was regarded as actual, probable, possible or impossible), were deliberately placed in symbolic mythology for several reasons. Firstly, this enabled them to easily imprint upon the mind, allowing finer details to be added in progressive order, until the entire body of knowledge was learned. At the same time, however, due to the tapu nature of knowledge it was desirable to use symbols to hide inner meanings and prevent misuse or abuse of the information within. Through mythology and genealogy Tangata Whenua are reminded that they are a product of the environment, rather than being in a superior position to it. The two myths of Rata and Te Ika a Maui demonstrate Māori beliefs regarding the use of resources. 

After a series of events, it came about that Rata needed to fashion a waka to recover the relics of his father from an enemy. He felled a totara tree for the purpose, and after his labour left it lying in the forest until the next day. On his return, he found that the log was no longer there. Looking around he recognised the tree, growing tall exactly as he had found it. There were not even any wood chips remaining on the ground. He felled the tree again, this time trimming it as well, and stripping off the bark before returning home. The next day, the totara was back in place as though it had never been touched, and not a chip nor scrap of bark was out of place. Rata once again chopped down the totara, and this time he trimmed it, shaped it and began to scoop out the inside of a waka from the trunk.  

Rata left the half-formed waka and returned home. But later that night, he crept back into the forest. As he approached the spot where the tree lay, he could hear singing, and see light shining through the trees. Creeping nearer, he could see the hakuturi of Tane, fairy folk, birds and insects working away to restore the totara. Birds were carrying leaves and twigs in their beaks. Thousands of insects swarmed over the log, replacing chips and filling up the hollow. Angrily, he leapt from the trees to confront the hakuturi. They fled, the singing ceased and the lights went out. Rata was standing in the forest alone. He then repented and spoke of his sorrow in cutting down the tree, saying that he would never cut down a tree again. Then he heard a voice, which said “You may, but you must ask Tane Mahuta, guardian of the forest and birds for permission. He created all these trees, and you must ask him when you wish to use them.” 

Maui decided he wanted to go fishing with his brothers so he hid in their waka. When the brothers detected his presence, they decided to take him back. Maui refused though, and told his brothers that they would have to find land, as Maui had used his powers of karakia to push the waka far out to sea. The brothers became afraid and Maui told them to go to his fishing grounds. Soon the brothers were pulling in plenty of fish. Suddenly the hook Maui was using, which was a jawbone he obtained from his grandmother, caught onto the tekoteko of a wharenui belonging to Tonganui, grandson of Tangaroa. Soon a great fish appeared, which eventually became known as Te Ika a Maui.  

Maui left his brothers to look after the fish before dividing it up, while he went to see a tohunga to free them from the tapu of catching such a large fish. He also knew that Tangaroa was angry so he wanted to make peace with him. When he returned his brothers had already begun to cut the fish up. It thrashed and writhed, and then when rigor mortis set in, the cuts became mountains, rivers and valleys, which is why the lie of the land in Te Ika a Maui is so bad today. 

These myths show that before resources are taken, karakia must be addressed to the proper atua. This ensures that nature is treated with due care and respect. If karakia are not performed correctly, the anger of the atua may be aroused, with dire consequences. Through their associations with the atua, these myths were sanctified and became a foundation on which kaupapa (first principles) were established. From these guiding principles, tīkanga (custom or practices) could be derived and validated (Walker, 1978). 

Tangata Whenua and the Environment 

In Te Ao Māori, resources belong to the earth, the embodiment of which is Papatuanuku. Humankind, just like birds, fish and other beings has only user rights with respect to these resources, not ownership (Marsden and Henare, 1992). The relationship between Tangata Whenua and the environment is a symbiotic one of equality and mutual benefit (Figure 2). 

Papatuanuku is seen as a living organism, sustained by species that facilitate the processes of ingestion, digestion and excretion. Pou whenua, the prestige of the land, relies on marae and human activity for its visible expression (Douglas, 1984), and the environment also provides sustenance. In return, mankind as the consciousness of Papatuanuku has a duty to sustain and enhance her life support systems.  

Figure 2: Tangata Whenua Relationship with Land 

 Tangata Whenua are descended from the land, and the word whenua also refers to the placenta. At birth, this is traditionally buried in the land of the hapu, strengthening relationships with the land and with whānau. Land, water, air, flora and fauna are ngā taonga i tuku iho, treasures handed down. Eventually these will be passed on to ngā whakatīpuranga, one’s descendants. The land gives identity and also turangawaewae, a place to stand. Without a relationship with the land, Māori are cut adrift and have no place to stand. Douglas (1984) emphasises that if the Māori relationship with land is not recognised, they are obliterated as a people. 

Each hapu will whakapapa back to a particular area of land, a mountain, and a body of water from which they have sprung. The identification of a hapu with their surrounding area is so strong that in cases where hapu have moved location for some reason, they have changed their name accordingly. Within the area of each particular hapu, resources are managed and accessed collectively, without individual ownership. Ownership would imply that humans are in a superior position to the environment, which would be contrary to the Māori worldview. 

Mauri is a concept of prime importance in Māori resource management (Morgan, 2004a). Mauri is the binding force between spiritual and physical; when mauri is extinguished, death results. Mauri is the life force, passed down in the genealogy through the atua to provide life. It is also strongly present in water; the mauri of a water body or other ecosystem is a measure of its life-giving ability (or its spiritual and physical health). Where mauri is strong, flora and fauna will flourish. Where it is weak, there will be sickness and decay.  

Water is thus highly valued for its spiritual qualities as well as for drinking, transport, irrigation and as a source of kai. Bodies of water that hapu include in whakapapa have mana as ancestors. Their physical and spiritual qualities are key elements in the mana and identity of iwi, hapu and whānau. Water is defined in terms of its spiritual or physical state as shown in Table 1: 

Table 1: Categories of Water (Douglas, 1984) 


Purest form of water, with potential to give and sustain life and to counteract evil.


Water that has come into unprotected contact with humans, and so is ordinary and no longer sacred. Has mauri.


Water that has been debased or corrupted. Its mauri has been altered so that the supernatural forces are non-selective and can cause harm.


Slow moving. typical of swamps, providing a range of resources such as rongoa for medicinal purposes, dyes for weaving, eels and birds.


Water which has lost its mauri. It is dead, damaged or polluted, with no regenerative power. It can cause ill-fortune and can contaminate the mauri of other living or spiritual things.


The sea, surf or tide. Also used to distinguish seawater from fresh water.


When an incident has occurred in association with water, for example a drowning, an area of that waterway is deemed tapu and no resources can be gathered or activities take place there until the tapu is lifted.


Mixing water of different types is a serious concern for Māori. The mauri of a water body can be destroyed by an inappropriate discharge, with serious consequences for the ecosystem concerned. Hapu reliant on the spiritual and physical well-being of the water body will also be affected. Mauri is defined on the basis of catchments (as are tribal boundaries). The diversion or combining of waters from different sources or catchments is considered inappropriate. 


Kawharu (1998) examined the set of principles relating to kaitiakitanga, and the evolution of the term, in detail. This source is heavily drawn on in the current section. 

The word kaitiakitanga is a recent development, although the underlying principles have most likely been practiced for hundreds of years. It developed recently as Māori increasingly sought to demonstrate their political and social status, particularly in relation to resource management. The word comes from “tiaki” meaning to care for, guard or protect, and the generic term “kai” which leads to “kaitiaki” to indicate a guardian, caretaker, conservator or trustee. Some iwi instead use the term “te hunga tiaki” to avoid juxtaposing “kai” with “tiaki”, which could cause offence since the word “kai” is used of food.  

Kaitiakitanga was introduced to encapsulate a wide range of ideas, relationships, rights and responsibilities. The use of a single word allowed the Crown to translate this concept into something they could understand. It has variously been translated to mean “guardianship” or “stewardship”. Stewardship is not a correct translation, since the implication is that a steward looks after someone else’s property. Guardianship does fairly well to translate one part of the concept of kaitiakitanga, that of ensuring the sustainability (long-term survival) of resources.

Māori concepts of kaitiakitanga, however, involve a much broader range of principles and activities than the current Pākehā understanding of the term. Included in kaitiakitanga are concepts concerning authority and use of resources (rangatiratanga, mana whenua), spiritual beliefs ascertaining to sacredness, prohibition, energy and life-force (tapu, rahui, hihiri and mauri) and social protocols associated with respect, reciprocity and obligation (manaaki, tuku and utu). 

The purpose of kaitiakitanga is to ensure sustainability (of the whānau, hapu or iwi) in physical, spiritual, economic and political terms. It is the responsibility of managing resources to ensure survival and political stability in terms of retaining authority over an area. As well as a practical process, kaitiakitanga is an exercise of spiritual authority or mana. Through genealogy, kaitiakitanga becomes a responsibility delegated by the atua. The management of resources is most often carried out at the hapu level. Kaitiaki are usually hapu or whānau, or significant individuals within these groups such as rangatira, tohunga and kaumatua. Kaitiaki in the spiritual sense could also be taniwha or ancestral guardians. 

The key feature of kaitiakitanga is reciprocity. The reciprocal agreement between kaitiaki and resource means that the resource must sustain the kaitiaki (physically, spiritually and politically), who in return must ensure the long-term survival of the resource. As well as being conserved, resources were also there to be used. A hapu has mana whenua or mana moana (rights of resource use) over a particular area, from which it gains prestige and respect. But the resources also have mana associated with the ability of the land to produce the bounties of nature. Reciprocity is a means of keeping balance, and also a way of insulating the kaitiaki against political, economic or spiritual harm. 

Kaitiakitanga, as well as being a resource management framework and an environmental ethic, is also associated with the social structure. It is overall a socio-environmental ethic which delineates relationships humans have with the environment, the atua, and each other. The most important social dimension of kaitiakitanga is manaakitanga, providing for guests. This too is a reciprocal arrangement. The host group provides hospitality predominantly in the forms of shelter, protection and kai. In return, the visitors are acknowledging the host as Tangata Whenua, with mana whenua and mana moana in that area. The more the host gives, the greater their mana. Various districts and marae take pride in the specialty foods of their area, particularly in regard to kai moana. In customary times, it was the exercise of the rights and responsibilities of kaitiakitanga that proved an association with and ties to an area or resource, distinguishing a group as Tangata Whenua. Kaitiakitanga was a right delegated by the atua, but these rights had to be asserted. Principally this was done through occupation, hosting guests, naming features, marae, taonga, burial grounds and oratory. 

An important dimension of kaitiakitanga was tuku (similar to the concept of lease), through which a hapu with mana whenua or mana moana would grant temporary user rights to another hapu. This allowed a neighbouring hapu or a related hapu to become kaitiaki within a certain area, but with an obligation to give something in return. This was as much a social alliance between hapu as it was a practical operation, and often occurred in return for the promise of warriors, as a peace offering, or as compensation. Mana whenua or mana moana was not transferred, and the group receiving tuku did not usually use the land or resources as if they had mana over them (for example, their dead were not buried on tuku land). Tuku would either be short-term (1-2 generations at most) or long-term, in which case the rights to manage land and resources may eventually be combined (for example through marriage). In some cases, it was made implicit that title remained with the original rangatira. These cases were referred to as tuku rangatira. Other concepts similar to tuku were taiapure, which involved coastal iwi setting aside areas for inland iwi to fish, and mataitai, which similarly set aside areas for shellfish gathering. 

Kaitiakitanga represents a number of concepts that tie together the physical, environmental, spiritual, economic and political aspects of Māori society. It establishes relationships humans have with the environment, the spiritual world and each other. It also provides a means through which hapu identify with an area or resource and strengthen their ties to it. In particular, kaitiakitanga provides a framework in which practices for responsible management of resources may function. 

Resource Management Practices 

According to Kawharu (1998), Māori resource management philosophies and practices were highly structured and organised. The Māori lunar calendar (maramataka) had a specific name for every day of the month, each day being important for particular activities (e.g. planting, harvesting or fowling). Various practices were, and still are used by Māori to ensure the long-term survival of resources, and therefore hapu and iwi. 

The most notable of these practices was rahui, a ritual prohibition enforced to temporarily remove a resource from use. Rahui is implemented whenever the mauri of an area or resource is in jeopardy through over-use or some other significant event. The most frequent reason for placing an area under rahui is to allow time for a resource to recover from over-use. But rahui could also be put in place where a resource was marked out for a particular purpose (e.g. a certain tree for use as a waka) or to be harvested for a significant event (such as a tangi or tribal gathering). If there was a death at sea and the body not found, rahui would be implemented on resources in the area. Rahui was sometimes used as a form of agricultural rotation, removing individual areas from use on a cyclic basis. 

When rahui is implemented, a tohunga will perform a karakia asking the relevant spiritual powers to intervene, render the area tapu (sacred and prohibited), offer protection and strengthen the mauri. The enhancing of mauri in the resource is the key outcome of rahui. Once mauri is restored, the life-giving ability of the resource will once again flourish. While mauri is not created by humans, a tohunga could imbue particular objects (such as a building or stone) with mauri by careful observation of karakia. These objects could then serve as a vessel for the spiritual powers to promote well-being within an object or area. Mauri stones were used in this way to aid regeneration during rahui. 

Agricultural practices always involved the use of karakia. On some occasions, a stone or particular tree may have had karakia performed to give it the authority to contain the mauri of an entire resource. The object could then act as a vessel for spiritual powers to mediate, offer protection and ensure that the resource was well-managed. For example, a significant stone in a kumara plantation would be selected, through which Rongomatane could intervene and assist with generating a good crop. In some cases, a kaitiaki such as a lizard would also be appointed to look after the mauri (Kawharu, 1998). 

Karakia were performed at every stage of managing resources, from early preparation to harvesting. Offerings were made to atua prior to planting, karakia were recited to encourage fish into fishing grounds and also before snaring kiore. The growing season was considered tapu, as were fowling seasons, and even those engaged in preparing or harvesting resources. Karakia were then subsequently performed to lift tapu as required. Karakia and tapu were used to discipline the behaviour of those directly or indirectly involved in resource gathering. Respect for spiritual authority was important if fish, birds or crops were to be healthy and plentiful (Kawharu, 1998). 

Western Concepts of Sustainability 

Fragmented Worldview 

Until the 16th century the Western world had a holistic view of nature as God’s plan. The holistic worldview interconnected knowledge of the environment, the spiritual world and culture, as shown by the circle in Figure 3. As rational, scientific thought began to develop, specialised branches of knowledge emerged. Figure 3 shows that as this occurred, each branch became separate from the others, and fragmented from the whole body of knowledge: 

Figure 3: Holistic and Fragmented Worldviews (Morgan, 2004b after Roberts, 2001)



 The heliocentric universe of Copernicus was developed solely from a scientific standpoint, without recourse to spiritual or cultural knowledge. In fact, this theory was condemned as heretical. Breaking away from religious and cultural constraints allowed Western science to freely explore the universe, leading to an unprecedented level of detailed knowledge and technological innovations. However, social, cultural, spiritual and environmental concerns soon fell by the wayside. The industrial revolution and technological progress increased our ability to destroy ecosystems, acidify the atmosphere, damage the ozone layer and pollute aquatic or terrestrial environments. In 1798, Malthus predicted that Earth had a finite carrying capacity for the human population, beyond which it could not sustain us. It is largely from considering the impacts that our species has had on the planet that a new movement in Western science began, leading to the development and now implementation of a sustainability ethic. 

Universal Concepts 

Until the turn of the 20th century, Western science viewed the universe as composed of indestructible atoms of solid matter existing in infinite space and absolute time.

It conformed to strict mechanical laws operating in an absolutely predictable manner. New physicists such as Max Planck (quantum theory), Albert Einstein (relativity), Werner Heisenberg (uncertainty principle) and others introduced entirely new concepts. 

The current Western scientific view is that the universe is finite in extent and relative in time. There is no absolute rest, size or motion. Matter does not exist of indestructible atoms of solid matter but rather as a complex series of rhythmical patterns of energy. Under these conditions, the atom needs only a minimal space and time in which to exist (the uncertainty principle). It is process, not simply inert matter. The new physicists proposed a construct for the universe consisting of a real world behind the world of sense perception. This world cannot be apprehended by direct means, but the concept may be grasped by speculative means and the use of symbol: 

E = m.c 2



Development of Sustainability Principles 

In 1962, Rachel Carson wrote Silent Spring, speaking about the effects of agricultural pesticides on animal species and human health. This book used Western scientific principles to show interactions between the economy, the environment and human well-being. This was a watershed event, and has been referred to as a turning point in our understanding of these interconnections (Boyle, 2004). The genesis of sustainability as a concept in Western science was in 1987, when the World Commission on Environment and Development published the Brundtland Report. This introduced and defined sustainable development as being: 

Development that meets the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. 

(World Commission on Environment and Development, 1987) 

On a national level, the New Zealand Society for Sustainability Engineering and Science (NZSSES) was launched in 2003 to contribute to the development and implementation of sustainability engineering and science and prepare informed comment on public policy issues. The NZSSES provides a network through which engineers, scientists, planners, policy makers and others can make sustainability a part of all engineering and resource management activities within New Zealand. The three guiding principles of sustainability as seen by the NZSSES are: 

·        maintaining the viability of the planet

·        providing for equity within and between generations

·        solving problems holistically 

Sustainability attempts to change the recent narrow-minded focus of Western society on technological innovation or financial gain. The three pillars of sustainability are seen as the economic, social and environmental spheres, all of which are inter-related. Figure 4 shows the three as distinct, but with some overlap. Sustainable activities must take place at the intersection of all three. This model is referred to as weak sustainability, since it does not accurately represent the real situation. For instance, the model shows a large part of the economy existing outside the environment, when in reality it requires the input of natural resources. 

Figure 4: Weak Sustainability



The strong sustainability model (Figure 5 ) recognises that the economy only exists within the confines of society, which in turn only exists within the environment. 

Figure 5: Strong Sustainability



 The differences between the two are highly significant. The strong sustainability model indicates, quite correctly, that unlimited economic growth is impossible. The economy only exists to serve members of a society, and it requires the input of resources from the environment to function. Definitions of the pillars of sustainability vary somewhat. The Dutch Social-Economic Planning Council uses people, profit and planet. In the 19th century, Le Play proposed a similar framework emphasising family, work patterns and environment. Additions to the three key pillars include cultural, ethical, technical or functional. Where culture is not allocated a separate category, it must be considered as an integral part of the social sphere. Technical or functional issues can in some cases be considered under the economic sphere.

Kettle (2004) incorporates sub-categories within the three main categories to give the framework shown in Table 2: 

Table 2: Sustainability Categories (Kettle, 2004) 








Natural Environment

Built Environment


These are the more subjective qualities.


These processes represent the interactions between people and their built and natural environment.

Institutional refers to legal and regulatory considerations.



Air/land/water quality and pipes/buildings. The more concrete, objective qualities.



Measuring Sustainability 

Various sustainability measurement techniques have been developed, the most common of which is triple bottom line (TBL) reporting. Using TBL reporting, companies that previously reported only their financial performance are now also measuring and reporting their impacts on the environment and society. Sometimes, cultural impacts are assessed separately, in which case this is referred to as quadruple bottom line (QBL) reporting. TBL reporting provides a pathway for companies to become more socially and environmentally responsible. Once measurements of performance are given, targets can be set and improvements made. TBL reporting also enables shareholders and other interested parties to assess the overall performance of a company, and take a more holistic approach to investment decisions. A growing segment of consumers make decisions based on factors other than quality and price. This is the reason for the increasing popularity of products such as plant-based washing powder, organic foods and fair trade coffees. With ethical investors in mind, a Dow Jones Sustainability Index has been created, ranking companies listed on the stock exchange in terms of environmental and social as well as economic performance. The Global Reporting Initiative, associated with the United Nations Environment Programme, was formed to produce sustainability reporting guidelines that could be applied globally, to any organisation. The guidelines are currently translated into 10 languages. 

A number of other measurement techniques have been developed on the same principles as TBL reporting. Figure 6 shows a technique developed for a mine site, with scores given for 16 possible environmental or social impacts specific to the operation.  100 % represents no impact, with greater or lesser scores representing positive or negative impact. The data behind the construction of this diagram is detailed enough to be meaningful, but the diagram enables the environmental and social performance of this mine to be assessed visually, and compared with other sites or a reference case. The more negative impacts there are, the smaller the shaded area becomes. This particular site scored well on minimising visual, noise and dust impacts, but poorly on greenhouse gas emissions and solid waste minimisation. 

Figure 6: Impacts from Mining (Burkitt and Preston, 2004)


The overall impact that a product or service has on the environment can be determined through a life cycle analysis (LCA). LCA evaluates environmental impacts associated with each life stage of a product or system, from raw material through production to finished product and end of life disposal or recycling, including transportation between stages. At each stage, the raw material and energy inputs required and the emissions to air, land or water are assessed. Where inputs have associated environmental effects these are also included, for example greenhouse gas emission from coal-fired electricity generation. An LCA establishes a baseline estimate of the total impact that a product or service has on the environment. It is then possible to identify areas for improvement or compare different scenarios. Conventional LCA does not calculate economic or social impacts. 

Hellström et al (2000) proposed a set of criteria which could be used to rank the overall impacts of a project or process (Table 3). These criteria can be used to compare the relative sustainability of a number of different options at the planning stage (multi-criteria analysis).  

Table 3: Hellström Model Criteria (Hellström et al, 2000) 







Health and Hygiene



·         availability of clean water

Māori culture and values in business

"Many Māori organisations have multiple purposes. This means that they are not set up just to make a profit. Many have to balance being financially viable with the social and cultural aspirations of the owners as their core purposes. Although the organisations may trade commercially and measure themselves against economic indicators, wealth creation is not seen as an end in itself."


Māori businesses will incorporate some or all of the concepts and principles discussed in this section into their business approaches, policies, and practices.

Te kaupapa pakihi: The foundations of business

This concept refers to fundamentals that apply across the range of business domains, whether the enterprise is small, medium, or large; mainstream or Māori focused; a social, community, or profit driven venture.

These fundamentals include:

See also:

Pūtake: The origin or reason for being

Every business has a reason for being. Many Māori businesses exist for the same reason as other businesses; that is, they are there to provide goods or services at a profit and to enrich the business owner(s). A significant number, however, have very different reasons for being – reasons that are associated with collectively-owned resources (such as land, tribal estates) and/or whakapapa-based groupings, such as whānau, hapū and iwi. Such businesses can encounter legal, cultural, and business complexities that are not experienced by mainstream businesses.

A Māori business may initially be formed to hold, manage, develop, and/or grow profit from Māori resources such as people (for example, youth or older people or whānau, hapū, or iwi groups), land, water (lakes, rivers), farms, forestry, or other collectively owned resources. Later, other entities such as companies or trusts may be created to manage and grow specific ventures under the umbrella of the original business or entity.

Many Māori businesses focus on a 'multiple bottom line', where social, cultural, environmental, spiritual, and economic goals are identified in mission statements and annual reports alongside profit-related goals and reporting and incorporated into everyday business operations.

Some Māori businesses are formed to provide an avenue for cultural expression and/or to foster pride and maintain Māori culture, language, and arts. Such enterprises may relate, for example, to tourism, Māori arts and crafts, design, clothing, or kaupapa Māori/Māori-focused education, music, or performing arts.

While such enterprises may look for profit so as to be self-sustaining, social or cultural goals are central to their existence. Research from Te Puni Kokiri (Ministry of Māori Development) indicates that the Māori 'brand' is also advantageous in the global marketplace.


Tūranga: The positioning/anchor of the business

Some Māori businesses make use of structures that are available to all businesses (for example, limited liability company, partnership, sole trader, trust or charitable trust). But businesses formed around collectively owned assets may be subject to specific laws that govern their operations.

“In setting up and selecting the type of legal structure for an organisation, it is important to clearly know the intended purpose of that structure. For example, if Māori land is the core asset, because this land will never be sold, for either legal or tikanga reasons, the organisation will not be able to make trading decisions following usual commercial models. This can make running a Māori organisation particularly challenging.”



Tikanga: Values, rules, priorities, and ways of doing business

Many Māori businesses operate by a set of values that sets them apart from other businesses, particularly businesses that operate solely to produce a profit for the owners/shareholders. These values include:

Ngā matatini Māori: Māori diversity

This principle acknowledges the wide range of ways in which Māori may or may not express their identity as Māori in connection with business.

Kotahitanga: Māori unity, shared sense of belonging

This principle refers to decisions made by Māori to identify and work as Māori in association with Māori for the benefit of Māori development.

Tino rangatiratanga: Self-determination, ownership, control

This principle relates to self-determination, control and ownership, whether personal or by whānau, hapū, iwi, or collective. Can be a motivational element in business.

Whanaungatanga: An ethic of belonging, kinship

This principle acknowledges the importance of networks and relationships and, therefore, of developing, managing, and sustaining relationships. It involves caring for and working harmoniously with others to achieve common goals using relational strategies such as tuakana-teina. Whanaungatanga is expressed in a variety of ways in business settings; for example: culture, whānau-model systems and structures, support for and employment of whānau, use of whānau networks, and whānau support for the business. A downside is that a sense of obligation to whānau, and whānau expectations, can create problems for a business.

Kaitiakitanga: Guardianship of natural resources

This principle is about responsible environmental management and sustainable enterprise. It includes the taking care of assets for future generations, as opposed to ownership and the right to divest assets.

Wairuatanga: Spirituality

Attention and resources are committed to ensuring that spiritual protocols are observed, for example, in the construction and openings of new buildings, in everyday functioning within the organisation, and in relationships with others. The services of kaumātua and/or tohunga may be engaged to guide the spiritual operation of the organisation.

Manaakitanga: Hospitality, generosity, care, and giving

A group or organisation should be able to host and provide for people appropriately. Resources must be allocated for this purpose. Hosting may involve large groups of owners and visitors. Whānau may be expected to support this function.

Tuhono: Cross-sectoral alignment of Māori aspirations on all dimensions

This principle supports the holistic or 'multiple bottom line' approach: profit-related and socially-oriented goals can be intertwined.

Puawaitanga: The best possible return is sought on integrated goals

This principle supports the measurement of success against multiple outcomes, including, but not just, financial outcomes.

Purotu: Multiple responsibilities and levels of accountability

This principle emphasises the responsibilities and accountabilities that Māori organisations often hold to current and future generations, wider whānau, hapū, or iwi groups – and to represent Māori well. It relates also to the particular laws and requirements of Māori organisations, particularly those managing collectively-owned assets.

“Together these common values characterise Māori self-determined development” or the necessities of Māori-centred business. Identifying cultural values important to Māori business development "means that Māori retain the ownership and control of their cultural identity and property rights" (Hinch et al., 1998, p. 4) in enterprise and industry. It also helps ensure that Māori social and cultural expectations and requirements are met in ways that are relevant to business operations (JHMRC, 1997a, p. 284).



The exercise of guardianship, particularly in relation to natural resources, such as land, sea and waterways; also flora and fauna, including people, that comprise elements of the natural environment. This principle requires that sustainability and environmental protection is valued. As kaitiaki or guardians, the owners or trustees of an enterprise are responsible for protecting (and/or growing) resources for future generations – not just for short-term or individual profit.



Exercise of leadership, authority, guardianship, and ownership rights; particularly focused on resource production, utilisation, and management for current and future requirements. This includes strategic development and oversight, relationship development and maintenance, problem-solving, conflict resolution and peace-making, adaptation, risk analysis, and management.


Other important/useful business-related concepts

Associated with the fundamental concepts discussed above are a raft of concepts and principles that are broadly applicable and generalisable across the levels of the business curriculum. These “clothe” the business or venture. They include, but are not limited to:

Hangarau: technology; the proper utilisation of a range of traditional, contemporary, and innovative technologies.

Hoko: trade/trading, buy, sell, exchange, commerce.

Mana: prestige, standing, integrity, recognition; maintaining one’s own mana and that of the group and recognising and respecting the mana of others.

Penapena rawa: resource management.

Putea: finance, funds; ensuring financial accountability and proper accounting practices are followed.

Rawa: goods, property, wealth, chattels, resource; ensuring proper asset management.

Te ngira tuitui: entrepreneurship; entrepreneurial action, endeavour, and creation.

Umanga papatahi: the beginnings or first stages of a business or venture; enterprise creation.

Utu, whakautu: reciprocity, payment, cost; ensuring that costs are clear, covered and recovered to provide for a sustainable enterprise. Includes tax compliance.

Whakaukangia: sustainability, including the recognition and use of ecological values and methodologies.

Whakawhiti whakaaro: an entrepreneurial mindset, innovative thinking.


Ngā wāhanga: specific elements

Te taki i te ikeiketanga: self-empowerment

Te kaipakihi me ona whanaketanga: business knowledge and development

Te whakawhanuitanga pukenga: skill assessment, career exploration

Te hiringatanga matauranga: accountability for learning

Te hoko, a utu: buying and investing

Marua whakapuakitanga: community awareness, problem-solving

Te whakahoahoa, nga kaiarataki: friendships, mentors

Te whakatu pakihitanga: business formation

Te ara tipuranga, a mahi: career development

Te hekenga matauranga: educational attainment

Te whanonga putea: financial literacy

Te whanaketanga a marua: community development

Whanaungatanga a whakahaere: relationship management.

See also:

Last updated August 9, 2013


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