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Why Restore Ecosystems?

Information on this page is from the Department of Conservation. It summarises the values of ecological restoration. It also gives an overview for why we should get involved in ecological restoration and other conservation projects.


Aotearoa has many unique ecosystems worth restoring and protecting. Image: Pure Salt.

Without fresh air, water, seas, fertile soils, forests, animals and plants, we humans couldn’t survive. Everything, even the tiniest of bugs, has a role to play, and that includes us.

You are part of your local environment. You, your school and your neighbourhood are all part of a bigger ecosystem. Everything is connected – from the deepest ocean to outer space – and what we do, does make a difference.


These values come from the Māori perspective of the natural world.

  • Aroha means ‘love’ but it actually refers to a lot more than that. It is about compassion for the environment and understanding the environment. We are all connected to the natural world.
  • Manaaki means ‘to look after and to care for’. It is our responsibility to be good kaitiaki/guardians for the natural world. If we don’t look after and care for the resources, then we will not have them in the future. It is part of our responsibility to manaaki everything within the natural world.
  • Wairua means ‘spirit’. Everything within the Māori world has a spirit. Wairua is mainly associated with living things, with people, and humans. Wairua is about feeling and hearing the essence that is around us in the natural world.
  • Tapu means sacred. Every part of the natural world, including ourselves has tapu. Some places have a tapu placed on them if they are sacred or for spiritual reasons.
  • Mauri means the life force or life essence. All things are united through mauri. People are part of the natural world and connected through mauri. The mauri of the natural world has been weakened by pests and habitat destruction, but we can restore mauri by looking after our environment.
  • Mana means respect, power, authority, and relates to dignity. From the Māori world view, everything has mana within the natural world.

Everything is connected and every native species has a role to play, including insects such as this wētā. Image: LEARNZ.


Everything is connected

Ko au ko te taiao, ko te taiao ko au.
I am the environment, the environment is me. 

  • The planet is made up of several interconnected systems.
  • Everything in an ecosystem has a role to play.
  • Changing anything in an ecosystem impacts on everything else. It is often difficult to predict what the result of changing something might be.

The planet’s diversity is critical to our survival

Toitū te marae a Tāne, Toitū te marae a Tangaroa, Toitū te Tangata.
If we care for the resources of the land and the sea, we, the people, will survive. 

  • The health, well-being, and survival of humans depends on the health, well-being and survival of our planet’s ecosystems.

People are part of the natural world

He nohonga ngātahitanga ahau me te taiāo.
We live as one with our natural world.

  • People’s actions can impact both negatively and positively on the environment.
  • Individuals, especially young people, can make a positive difference to ecosystems.

Aotearoa is a special place with many species found no where else in the world. Image: Pure Salt.

Aotearoa/New Zealand is a special place because of its many unique species and ecosystems

Kāore he wāhi i kō atu i a Aotearoa me ōna koiora, me ona waahi ahurei.
There is no place in the world like Aotearoa with its special biodiversity and unique ecosystems.

  • Many of the species and ecosystems found only in New Zealand are threatened.
  • If New Zealand’s unique species die out, they disappear from the planet.
  • Because New Zealand is a long way from other land masses, many native species are at risk because they have not adapted to the activities of people and introduced mammals.
  • New Zealand’s natural world is part of who we are as New Zealanders.

Try the Why restore ecosystems? quiz.

Watch The Big Picture video - Bugman, Ruud Kleinpaste takes to the mountains to explore how our health, well-being, and survival depend on the health, well-being and survival of our planet's ecosystems. For more visit www.doc.govt.nz/bigpicture.

Watch Everyone has a role to play in conservation video - Find out about the wide range of people who are getting involved and working with the Department of Conservation to look after our special places, plants, and animals.

Check out national and regional conservation programmes - DOC supports a range of education programmes that get people involved with and promote conservation.

Audio Māori keywords:

After reading about the Māori perspective of the natural world think about your own values of the natural environment and the role of ecological restoration.