New Zealand's indigenous plants and animals are an integral part of Māori culture. They are taonga, treasured beings.
From an iwi perspective, these taonga all have stories to tell about the histories, whakapapa or genealogy of their people. All taonga have a mauri (life force), a wairua (spirit or soul), a tapu (sacredness) and a mana (prestige).
To enhance mauri and restore mana, the protection and restoration of taonga (highly values species) and significant biodiversity sites need to be targeted through incorporation of Te Ao Māori (the Māori worldview) into biodiversity management programmes and plans.
Developing a cultural framework with tangata whenua is important to help identify, map and assess the condition of taonga (treasured) biodiversity sites using Mātauranga Māori values and tools. Indigenous knowledge increases our understanding of habitats and species, and ensure indigenous cultural values sit alongside biodiversity values and complement current legislation. This will greatly assist the appropriate application of solutions to indigenous challenges of advocacy, management, use, protection and enhancement of native plants, animals and places.
Ngā Whenua Rāhui is one way Māori protect and enhance their land.
Tangata whenua lead the official opening of Pekapeka Regional Park in 2010 after the wetland had extensive restoration.
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