Ki uta ki tai

Ki uta ki tai/From the mountains to the sea



Ki uta ki tai is a philosophy that reflects the Ngāi Tahu view of environmental and resource management. It is a traditional concept representing kaitiakitanga (guardianship) from the mountains and great inland lakes, down the rivers to hāpua/lagoons, wahapū/estuaries and to the sea. Kaitiakitanga reflects the special relationship Ngāi Tahu has with its environmental heritage. It is fundamental to the tribe’s culture and identity. Ki uta ki tai encapsulates the need to recognise and manage the interconnectedness of the whole environment.


In July 2011 the Crown approved amendments to the National Water Conservation (Lake Ellesmere) Order 1990 requested by Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu and DOC to take into account the high cultural and national significance of the lake.


Key changes included:

The words “Te Waihora” in front of Lake Ellesmere in the title of the Water Conservation Order and throughout the document, in line with current accepted practice.
Expanding the list of the lake’s “outstanding features” to include habitat for indigenous wetland vegetation and fish and significance in relation to tikanga Māori in respect of Ngāi Tahu history, mahinga kai and customary fisheries.
The Water Conservation Order only referred to wildlife habitat.)
Allowing additional lake openings at any level, primarily to aid eel migration, from April 1 to June 15.
For more information on recreational activities and special features visit here