Stories in New Zealand

Kotahitanga mō te Taiao Alliance

Working As One for Our Environment

Ngāti Kuia whānau at Te Hoiere awa
Ngāti Kuia whānau Ngāti Kuia whānau at Te Hoiere awa © Melissa Banks Photography courtesty of Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Kuia Trust image library


For centuries, Māori lived undisturbed in Aotearoa* New Zealand’s epic lands, rivers and coastlines. They exercized kaitiakitanga—an intricate cultural system founded on the belief that all people are guardians of nature, not mere consumers of its bounty. It is everyone’s responsibility to protect and maintain the natural world for future generations. This Indigenous world view guided how fish were caught, crops were planted, land was preserved and wildlife was protected.

*Aotearoa is a Māori name for part of New Zealand, which is now used to represent the whole country.

Mountains in the distance with yellow grass in the foreground.
The Haystack 1000 Acre Plateau, Kahurangi National Park, New Zealand ©

Based on this philosophy and acknowledging that conservation can go faster alone but further together, 15 partners came together to form the Kotahitanga mō te Taiao Alliance, meaning “Collective Action for Our Nature.” The Alliance aims to get the best possible conservation outcomes for people and nature on New Zealand’s South Island.

Martin Rodd, Co-Chair of the Kotahitanga mō te Taiao Alliance, describes its purpose, “Our conservation challenges are vast as we seek to regenerate our freshwater catchments, from our mountains to our seas, revive our native plants and animals that exist within these landscapes and restore our peoples connection to them.”

Learn more about the Alliance of councils, Iwi and the Department of Conservation in the top of the South Island, plans to work collectively to restore natural landscapes.

The Nature Conservancy (TNC) is supporting the Kotahitanga mō te Taiao Alliance to provide funding, science, global expertise, financial tools and a commitment to engaging diverse stakeholders around common goals.

TNC is pleased that we can support the local Iwi and communities in achieving their aspirations for conservation through the Kotahitanga mō te Taiao Alliance.

Conservation Director, TNC New Zealand

“TNC brings independence, proven international experience leading landscape conservation programmes and access to the latest research and thinking in conservation, economic and social tools that can make working at this scale possible. I see our partnership with TNC as game-changing for achieving our vision,” said Martin Rodd, Co-Chair Kotahitanga mō te Taiao.


A map of the top of New Zealand's South Island.
Top of the South Areas where the Kotahitanga mō te Taiao Alliance works.

Strategic Vision

Our extraordinary natural heritage is flourishing, having been restored over large areas, including where people live. People live, care for, and benefit from the environment in ways that bolster natural ecology together with the communities that live within them.


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.




To care for each other, to be respectful, and an act of reciprocity of natural resources to be shared with others


Provision of active utilization, preservation, conservation, maintenance, and management of the environs (including flora, fauna, aquatic and marine)

Matauranga Maori

Acceptance and acknowledgement of Maori epistemologies within the construction of key concepts and projects


Unity of purpose and collective agreement for achievement of outcomes and goal


The chiefly right to determine use and management of the natural environment


The principle life force of our environs is protected including their tapu and wairua


Duty of care and responsibility to this Kaupapa, each other, and Iwi

Ehara taku toa i te toa takitahi, engari he toa takitini. Our strength does not come from ourselves alone, our strength derives from the many.

Co-Chair of the Kotahitanga mō te Taiao Alliance


Ngāti Apa ki te Rā Tō Trust
Te Pātaka a Ngāti Kōata Trust
Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Kuia Trust
Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Rārua 
Ngāti Tama ki Te Waipounamu Trust
Te Atiawa o Te Waka-a-Māui Trust
Rangitāne o Wairau Settlement Trust
Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Waewae
Tasman District Council
Nelson City Council
Marlborough District Council
Buller District Council 
West Coast Regional Council 
Kaikoura District Council 
Department of Conservation - Te Papa Atawhai

In the News

  • Young native plantings prove hardy against flood damage in Te Tauihu

    Kotahitanga mō te Taiao riparian planting projects in the top of the South showed their resilience during the floods of August 2022. Read More

  • Conservation alliance partners with leading international environmental org

    Kotahitanga mō te Taiao Alliance announces partnership with The Nature Conservancy Read More

  • Work begins on multimillion-dollar project to restore water quality

    The Kotahitanga mō te Taiao launches the Te Hoiere/Pelorus catchment restoration project Read More

Contact us to find out how you can help support the delivery of the outcomes or learn more