Tiaki: the heart of New Zealand sustainability


A magical land of natural wonders and unique marvels, New Zealand holds a special place in the hearts and minds of not only its residents but also the inquisitive travelers who flock to its tranquil shores to experience everything that the country has to offer. Well known for its stunning scenery, pristine wilderness, and native wildlife, Aotearoa is an extraordinary place… like none other on earth.

Such delicate beauty is a fragile, finite resource and must be carefully protected and conserved for the benefit of everyone and for the generations yet to come. Preserving the land, history, and culture of New Zealand is a sacred trust… a responsibility that we all share. It is up to us… all of us… to come together and act as joint custodians, to let our shared love of the land and our appreciation for its hidden secrets and untold stories inspire us to think broadly and carefully consider the consequences of our actions. We need to look with hope toward the future, while maintaining our connections to the past, and ensure that we are nurturing an ongoing commitment to preserving and sustaining this land and the world around us.

The Maori people have long understood that our own well-being is inextricably linked to the natural environment and the land that supports and sustains us. They recognise that these bonds are strengthened over time and are reflected in our history and our interactions with those who share our world, whether immediate family or distant neighbours, and in the hospitality that we offer to strangers, securing the future and building the foundations of friendship.

This is epitomised in Te Reo Maori, the Maori language, as Tiaki, meaning to guard, hold in trust, protect, and conserve. Ultimately, Tiaki means caring for people and place… for nature, for people, and for culture.

Care for nature

In New Zealand, our land and natural environment is one of our most prized and precious resources. It falls to us, and to all who come here, to safeguard the land, taking care to conserve it for future generations.

If we commit ourselves to embracing eco-friendly practices and to leaving the land just as we found it, we are well on our way to becoming sustainable, toitu, and upholding one of the core principles of Tiaki. We must all act as kaitiaki, guardians, and devote ourselves to protecting the bounty that nature has provided by sheltering and enhancing our environment… our land, our oceans, and our wild creatures. We must tread lightly and leave no trace.

“Take only pictures; leave only footprints.”

By taking care to reduce our impact on the environment and paying attention to the natural world around us, we become champions of Tiaki, defending nature and standing as an example to others.

Care for people

Just as important as caring for the land, Tiaki also emphasises the importance of caring for each other. As New Zealanders, Kiwis pride themselves on their manaakitanga, their hospitality and generosity, and providing a warm welcome to all.

“He aha te mea nui o te ao? He tangata! He tangata! He tangata!”
“What is the most important thing in the world? It is people! It is people! It is people!”

These people come to New Zealand from all over the world, whether to visit, to work, or to live in this amazing country. This diversity is one of the things that makes Aotearoa so unique and is one of our greatest strengths. It permeates our communities and our way of life and opens up windows into understanding each other and the world we live in.

Getting to know the locals and experiencing authentic Kiwi living and the warmth of our hospitality is an integral part of enjoying the true character of New Zealand. Visitors, too, can contribute to and support Tiaki by sharing that same care and respect with those around them as they explore the wonders of this great country.

By working together, embracing our differences, and taking responsibility for our own behaviour and safety we demonstrate respect and care for all people and cultures. We ensure that New Zealand remains the warm welcoming place that has captured the hearts and imaginations of the world.

Care for culture

One of the things that draws visitors to New Zealand is our extraordinary culture. Whether it is the unique perspective of our indigenous people, Maoritanga (Māori practices, beliefs, and way of life) or just the everyday colour of our ‘Kiwitanga’ (Kiwi-ness), New Zealand culture is a fundamental part of our mutual heritage and identity… of who we are as a people and as a nation.

Our shared history and experiences underpin the entirety of New Zealand society and provide visitors with unique opportunities to participate in ways that promote fellowship and genuine understanding… one that fosters open hearts and open minds. This inclusive culture is one of our taonga, or treasures, and treating it with well-deserved respect and care ensures that our history, values, and stories are preserved and passed on to future generations.

From the solemn importance of Matauranga Maori – the body of knowledge originating from the Māori ancestors… the Māori world view, creativity, and cultural practices – to the beloved whimsy of Kiwiana – those treasured artefacts of New Zealand nostalgia – each and every element that contributes to our culture holds a key place in the overarching whole. In order to ensure that these valued traditions and customs endure, we must all share a commitment, Kiwis and visitors alike, to care for New Zealand and stand as guardians of this precious cultural heritage.

Connect with Care

If we all do our part and approach everything we do here sustainably, with Tiaki foremost in our thoughts and behaviour, we can secure a bright future for New Zealand and the continued joy and promise it brings.

As Kiwis we can:
• Embrace sustainability as a core practice and measure of success
• Exceed expectations and provide true value to those who visit our shores
• Come together as a community for the greater good
• Restore, protect, and enhance the environment for the benefit of all, not and in the future

As visitors you can:
• Care for the environment: land, sea, and nature
• Keep New Zealand clean. Tread lightly. Leave no trace.
• Travel safely and show respect, care, and consideration for all
• Respect culture and approach everything with open hearts and open minds

Ready to make the Tiaki Promise? Do your part.

Veronika Vermeulen is Director of Aroha New Zealand Tours Ltd. Aroha New Zealand Tours Ltd. has been offering 100% tailored journeys and private guided luxury experiences in New Zealand since 2000.

If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.


Comments (12)

  1. Roger says:

    It is remarkable how the Maori people are not only maintain their culture but are strengthening it. I am not an expert but it seems to me that respect lies at the heart of their world view. Their belief system will encourage them and future generations to understand that the fragile and finite ecosystems around them can and must be preserved. It is encouraging that young people are keen to research their Maori genealogy and are also eager to learn the language too.

    • Steve says:

      As ever with New Zealand I think that rugby is at the core of things. Maori Rugby sets the tone and values which feed into the All Blacks. People learn that they are just a small cog in the machine. They look after the All Black shirt for the next generation and that attitude spreads to the environment.

    • Hi Roger,
      yes, I believe it is the strength we have in our country and people should consider to learn about this when traveling in New Zealand. Not in a touristy way ore in a day to day environment.

    • Pete says:

      I’ve got to say that I’ve been impressed by many of the New Zealanders that I have met on my travels. They seem to have a strength of character about them, and I mean that in a good way. They just seem to respect people and things. If any race is going to preserve their environment then my money is on the Kiwis.

    • Hi Pete, I migrated to New Zealand 25 years ago. One of the reasons, was the people I met. No country is perfect and we have our fair share of problems, including some environmental issues, but I do hope like you that this Nation is stong enough to look into the future.

  2. Alison Williams says:

    The theme of care running through this well-written piece gives me a real sense of optimism for New Zealand’s future. I would definitely be willing to commit to the Tiaki Promise. Preserving our planet is a process that everyone has to commit too.

  3. Jensen Coombs says:

    It is precisely this care and respect for nature that has kept New Zealand’s natural resources and surroundings pristine. And I admire the people of this country as they also managed to ensure that even those who migrate to their lands are also influenced to care about the environment. Having your culture and nature intact in this rapidly-advancing and modern world is an amazing feat.

    • Hi Jensen, I have always argued that most new migrants to New Zealand are great keepers of the environment and culture as we moved here because we love this nation and we like to keep it pristine. We do not come here to get rich, we move around the globe in the knowledge how unique this place is. For me, I feel blessed to live in a great nation. And again we do have many issues we face and we are far of been perfect, but at least we can talk about things and can hopefully make a difference here and abroad.

  4. Rob says:

    I just hope that this concept of Tiaki spreads. To my mind the New Zealand example ought to be used as a case study on a lot of Travel and Tourism courses. Yes, I know that tomorrow’s travel managers need to learn their accountancy to manage the bottom line. But there’s more to surviving than keeping above break-even. More travel businesses must come to understand that if they don’t take more care of their environment today they won’t have anywhere to operate tomorrow.

    • I totally agree and I do believe in New Zealand most travel operators are very aware of the impact it will have in our future. As one of the biggest income earner in the whole country and another large industry beeing agriculture we need to make changes now. Otherwise, we will face huge problems in the long run.

  5. Kendra Stein says:

    This is the very reason why New Zealand is one of the happiest places on earth. They really care for everything that encompasses their nation and it’s also the reason why I really love this country and I also love to visit it. Friendly and welcoming people, beautiful places and sceneries, and a peaceful environment. The country is also known for their love of their indigenous people, the Maori and the way they preserve their culture is absolutely fascinating. Hands down!

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