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Kaitiaki Champions

Kaitiakitanga is a Māori concept where we are the guardians of the taiao. Kaitiakitanga is  recognised by academics and environmentalists as a valuable and effective model for caring for the environment for so many reasons!

Firstly, the science...

Kaitiakitanga is recognised by academics and environmentalists as a valuable model because of its: 

  • Holistic Approach: kaitiakitanga is not only about the physical aspects of nature but also its inclusion of spiritual, cultural, and social significance. This includes the immense positive impact on our wellbeing. 

  • Long-term Sustainability: kaitiakitanga values the interconnectedness of ecosystems and the preservation of resources and the health of the environment.

  • Indigenous Knowledge Integration: kaitiakitanga respects the wisdom accumulated over generations. This enriches the research and offers unique insights and solutions.

  • Community Participation: kaitiakitanga understands that community involvement increases the likelihood of sustainable outcomes.

Why this activity?

Understanding our role as kaitiaki and sustainable practices doesn’t need to be complicated. It can extend anywhere from developing an understanding of the importance of recycling to recreating the recycling system at your school or kura! This activity provides a welcome opportunity to take your learning outside but also support the long-term learning and role to care for our environment.

You'll need

Your adventurous tamariki! A sunny day will help too! 

What to do

Kōrero about what they understand about kaitiakitanga - at its simplest, taking care of the environment and preserving nature. Let them know that they have lots of options to explore some research and learning about their local taiao. 


You might like to offer this list of ideas to tamariki, or ask that in groups they all investigate one topic. 


  • Research new ways to protect and care for the taiao? Look to see if these can be implemented at your school or inside the community.

  • Collect rubbish inside the school and perhaps think of ways to support environmentally safe ways of disposing of rubbish

  • Identify two rākau and investigate how they support our environment, and us!

  • Find some evidence of wildlife at your school or kura - a nest, some tracks. What might the wildlife be - does it need protecting, or perhaps eradicating?

  • Research and create some cool graphs of how tamariki are traveling to school and how this supports te taiao.

  • Explore the wellbeing benefits of being outside - this might include some experiments, e.g. tamariki asking their peers to spend time outside, and ‘measuring’ their mood before and after doing so - this could be via a personal account, or their observations!


You might ask that tamariki report back with a presentation for their class, to the principal or as part of a community event.  Or they could look to their next steps and send letters to your local council, shopping centre community, or offer to support local environmental initiatives such as Te Papa Atawhai (Department of Conservation).

Kaiako card

Print and go with the Kaiako Card for this activity.

Whānau engagement

Invite tamariki to share their learning with whānau and perhaps as part of this mahi, they create some practical things that they can implement with their whānau as kaitiaki champions. 

If you’re asking tamariki to present their mahi, then invite whānau to see these.

And to add to this...

This waiata - We are kaitiaki by Lelia Franklin which would make an amazing assembly piece. Ka rawe!

If you're looking for some more activities to get your tamariki learning about the taiao check out the awesome activities ​we wrote for Te Wiki Tiaki Ao Tūroa - Conservation Week. Despite these being written for Te Wiki Tiaki Ao Tūroa they can be used any time of year you'd like to get some outdoor learning

Curriculum links

Health and PE Curriculum  

Personal Health and physical development: A1 - Personal growth and development

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