Research by Andrée Mathieu

New Zealand is all nature! Imposing, generous, extravagant nature! It looks as if the Creator had made this land into a vast workshop where He would have built a sample of all that we can find on this planet: never ending beaches, mountains of all sizes, plains as far as the eyes can see, volcanoes among which some are still active, glaciers, rain forests worthy of the most beautiful cathedrals, cheerful rivers, abyssal gorges and spectacular lakes nested in wonderful massifs. And what about the vegetation? All tones of green are delicately punctuated by seasonal flowers. When the sun comes down on the horizon, nature seems lighted from within. It's magic! Its no surprise that the environment dwells within my thoughts...

For Maori, protecting the environment takes on another dimension; they are the kaitiaki of their land. This Maori concept of kaitiakitanga should inspire anyone who is interested in sustainability. But to really understand the meaning of this word, one must understand the holistic world view of the Maori. For them all is interrelated: the divine and the human, the living and the inanimate. It is impossible for me to describe their vision in its fullness within these few lines, and I certainly don't claim to do it on their behalf, but I will all the same try to tell you how I understand that concept of kaitiakitanga after three months in New Zealand. We must first go back to their founding myths, but here I should make a point. The Maori I met don't like anyone referring to their gods using the word “myth”. Speech originates in Io, the supreme god, and the Maori consider that their history was told to them through oral transmission since the beginning of times.