For centuries, Maōri communities living in Aotearoa* New Zealand practiced Kaitiakitanga: a unique cultural system founded on the belief that people are guardians of nature and have a responsibility to protect and maintain the lands, rivers and coastlines for future generations. This Indigenous worldview guided how the land was managed, how fish were caught, crops were planted land was preserved and wildlife was protected. 

Based on this philosophy and acknowledging that conservation can go faster alone but further together, The Kotahitanga mō te Taiao Alliance, meaning “Collective Action for our Nature”, is a top-of-the-South Island alliance of 17 iwi and government partners. The Alliance works collectively to restore habitats, protect threatened species, connect people to nature and support economic, social, community and environmental resilience for communities across this 3.4m square kilometres of land and sea (an area more than 5x the size of Singapore).  

The Kotahitanga mō te Taiao Alliance is the only community conservation initiative of its kind in Aotearoa, NZ. And since 2020, Commonland has supported the Kotahitanga mō te Taiao Alliance to reach its strategic and operational goals and objectives through ongoing funding. 

Discover the full range of activities implemented by the KMTT alliance on their dashboard: https://www.nature.org/en-us/about-us/where-we-work/asia-pacific/new-zealand/stories-in-new-zealand/kmtt-alliance-projects/  

Strategic Vision:

Our extraordinary natural heritage is flourishing, having been restored over large areas, including where people live. Across the region there is an alignment on understanding, protecting, enhancing and future proofing the value of nature critical to the Top of the South. People live, care for, and benefit from the environment in ways that bolster natural ecology together with the more-than-human communities that live within them. 

People live, care for, and benefit from the environment in ways that bolster natural ecology together with the communities that live within them. 

Mission:

To create a connected and aligned region that understands, protects, enhances, and future proofs the values of nature critical to the Top of the South that this flourishing nature in turn enriches its communities. 

Challenges:  

  • Invasive, introduced plant and animal species that damage the local ecology 
  • Increased frequency of extreme weather events and lack of resilient natural infrastructure 
  • Highly modified and fragmented landscapes due to human impacts 
  • Polluted rivers, estuaries and lagoons 
  • Communities disconnected from each other and the landscape 
  • Financial resource  

Opportunities:  

  • A whole landscape under habitat restoration 
  • Protection of the native and threatened local ecology 
  • Flourishing terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems 
  • Connected human and more-than-human communities thriving in harmony together 
  • A Top of the South Island society that integrates and lives the values of Kaitiakitanga