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Kaitiakitanga

By Laurel Lanner | Posted: Wednesday September 13, 2017

Today, as I write, the students are wearing mufti to raise money for tools for the school Enviro Group. The group has worked hard to make the whole school community aware of our obligation to care for our environment and each other. They also have found practical ways to show that care.

The Old Testament verse, Genesis 1:28, has often been translated into English and understood as God giving humans control, authority or dominion over the natural world. The English translations have been used to justify our right to possess, manipulate and exploit the world’s creatures and resources for our benefit with little consideration for the future and often the people who immediately suffer from a degradation in their environment. The Maori word, kaitiakitanga, gives a much better sense of the duty of care, protection and wise (sustainable) guardianship that the original biblical text implies.

Pope Francis has been outspoken about environmental issues and has been unafraid to challenge world leaders, as well as Catholics, to take steps to care for creation now, before it is too late. A few years ago, he released the Encyclical called ‘Laudato Si’ (On Care for our Common Home). A quick way to access his thoughts are found in ten ‘commandments’ he suggested for how we can practically improve our relationships with our environment and each other:

1. Think of future generations – ‘What kind of world do we want to leave?’

2. Embrace alternative energy sources

3. Consider pollution’s effect on the poor – ‘Touch the hearts of those who look only for gain at the expense of the poor and the earth.’

4. Take the bus!

5. Be humble – ‘We are not God.’

6. Don’t become a slave to your phone – ‘True wisdom…is not acquired by a mere accumulation of data which eventually leads to overload and confusion, a sort of mental pollution.’

7. Don’t trade online relationships for real ones

8. Turn off lights, recycle, don’t waste food

9. Educate yourself – ‘There is a nobility in the duty to care for creation through little daily actions, and it is wonderful how education can bring about real changes in lifestyle.’

10. Believe you can make a difference – ‘We must regain the conviction that we need one another, that we have a shared responsibility for others and the world, and that being good and decent are worth it.’