The Concept of Kaitiakitanga
Kaitiakitanga can be described as guardianship to the sky, land and sea. The Māori people believe that the Earth is a taonga (treasure) and should be protected and cared for. We can offer Kaitiakitanga by conserving the Earth and protecting our natural environment. We are all considered kaitiaki (guardians) of the sky, land and sea and then we pass that responsibility on to the next generation. At New Zealand School Jakarta, we believe in this idea and we aim to be positive changemakers.
There are four overlapping areas of focus that allow us to promote the concept of Kaitiakitanga; people, programmes, practices and place.
People are at the heart of our community and as kaitiaki, we are all responsible for carrying out Kaitiakitanga. At NZSJ, we believe in empowerment and providing opportunities for people within our community to reach their full potential. It is important to work collaboratively and to understand that we can achieve great things if we mahi-tahi (work together). We must be reflective of our practices and understand that our own actions affect others and the environment around us. We must respect and celebrate diversity and appreciate how unity in diversity leads to the betterment of ourselves and our society as a whole. Our aim is for all members of our community to become confident, connected, actively involved lifelong learners who play an active role in creating a more sustainable environment.
The programmes we carry out have an impact on our world, either through our mindset or through our habits and behaviours. Our academic programme emphasises the connection between people and the environment, while highlighting the importance of sustainable development. Our approach to teaching and learning enables our students to become reflective and critical thinking practitioners that understand the impact they can have on the world around them. We hope our programmes can help shape and develop attitudes and behaviours that lead to a more sustainable future.
Talking about important issues and showing awareness is the first step towards a more sustainable community but we must put those thoughts and ideals into practice. Turning ideas into actionable steps is necessary for it to become part of our lives. We can show our children that it is possible to live sustainably and move towards a future that doesn’t compromise our sky, land and sea. Sustainable practices should be part of the school culture and all stakeholders should be involved. There is more we can do but we are committed to this endeavour by improving our practices and our own behaviours.
Astrophysicist and Science Communicator, Carl Sagan, once described Earth as a ‘pale blue dot’ when reflecting on a photograph of Earth taken from the Voyager 1 space probe. From this cosmic perspective, Earth looks small and fragile. However, it is also a humbling reminder that we are the momentary occupants of this special place and we have a responsibility to care for and protect it. This planet is our home and we share this place with other plants and creatures. We can make a difference by thinking globally and acting locally and this starts within our school.
Kaitiakitanga is about safeguarding the future. It is about realising our connection with the natural world and understanding the impact we have on it. It is about recognising that we are kaitiaki (guardians) and have a responsibility to be preservers instead of only users and protectors instead of destroyers. This starts here, it starts now, with me, with you, with all of us.
By Tim Maitland
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