The Tiaki Promise

Eliza Raymond
Jul 23, 2023

Imagine if you considered yourself a guardian of every place you visited on your travels. You didn't just take what you wanted from a destination, but you proactively took steps to protect and preserve it so that future generations could enjoy it too. This is the premise behind the recently launched Tiaki Promise in Aotearoa New Zealand.

New Zealand is precious, and everyone who lives and travels here has a responsibility to look after it. The Tiaki Promise is a commitment to care for New Zealand, for now and for future generations. By following the Tiaki Promise, you are making a commitment to New Zealand. To act as a guardian, protecting and preserving our home.

In te reo Māori, Tiaki means to care for, to protect. Kaitiakitanga means guardianship. As part of that, the Tiaki Promise encourages manuhiri (visitors) travelling to and around Aotearoa New Zealand to do so with an open heart and mind. New Zealand Māori Tourism Chief Executive Pania Tyson-Nathan explains:

Tangata whenua (people of this land/indigenous to Aotearoa New Zealand) are informed by values, such as manaakitanga (hospitality, kindness, respect, generosity) and kaitiakitanga (guardianship of the environment). These also underpin the Tiaki Promise. When manuhiri travel our country upholding these values, they will begin to see the interconnectedness of the world around them and gain a more meaningful and unique visitors’ experience.

GOOD Travel was honoured to attend the launch of the Tiaki Promise at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. It was inspiring to hear the leaders of the seven organisations involved speak about their vision behind the initiative, and to hear New Zealand's Minister of Tourism endorse the campaign.

What does the Tiaki Promise mean for GOOD travellers?

The Tiaki Promise calls on Kiwis and visitors to Aotearoa New Zealand to:

  1. Care for land, sea and nature, treading lightly and leaving no trace
  2. Travel safely, showing care and consideration for all
  3. Respect culture, travelling with an open heart and mind

We spoke with Rebecca Ingram from Tourism New Zealand to find out more about what these commitments mean in practice. She explained:

Put simply we are asking visitors to respect our people and home, this includes respecting our people and culture, keeping New Zealand clean by using rubbish bins, recycling bins and being sure to leave no trace, learning about our roads and road rules and driving carefully, and being prepared when heading into our beautiful landscapes.

At GOOD Travel, we believe that respecting culture requires GOOD travellers to be open-minded and to travel with an approach that focuses on learning from our hosts. However, behaving respectfully also requires knowledge and understanding of cultural dos and don'ts. Pania Tyson-Nathan from New Zealand Māori Tourism shared some things to think about when travelling around Aotearoa New Zealand, particularly in relation to Māori culture.

  • You may hear the word ‘tikanga’ a lot, in relation to Māori culture. Tika, in te reo Māori, means correct or right, and tikanga is about the right or appropriate ways of doing things.
  • Tikanga practices exist to give certainty and safety and tell people how to behave and why. These can vary between iwi and hapū, so make sure to observe and ask questions.
  • An example of a tikanga is not sitting or standing on tables, because that’s where you eat. Another is to take your shoes off before entering a wharenui (meeting house on a marae), or someone’s home, which has both practical and cultural implications.
  • Māori believe that everything has mauri (life force – think Pocahontas’ Colours of the Wind ‘I know that every rock, and tree, and creature, has a life, has a spirit, has a name’) and should be accorded respect.
  • Tohu whenua (landmarks) such as mountains and rivers have particular significance, as the markers by which iwi, hapū, and whanau orient themselves, and descend from as ancestral beings.
  • It should go without saying that manuhiri should be considerate when exploring te taiao (the environment) and not litter or defecate – this is by no means unique to Aotearoa New Zealand or Māori culture, but rather common courtesy!
The best thing you can do as a visitor is to research, listen, ask questions, learn from your mistakes, and be respectful of people, practices, and land.

Make the most of your time by learning more about the culture and stories of an area through a Māori tourism experience. You can find some of these enterprises on the New Zealand Māori tourism website.

Global pledges

The Tiaki Promise aligns with other initiatives in Iceland, Palau and Hawaii. The Icelandic Pledge, the Palau Pledge and the Hawaii Pono Pledge also encourage travellers to reflect on the way they travel and to follow guidelines to ensure that they protect the places they are visiting. In a similar vein, the Is It Too Much To Ask campaign led by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) calls on all travellers to commit to ten pledges to transform the tourism industry into a force for good.

As you can imagine, we get very excited about these kinds of initiatives here at GOOD Travel! We believe that change in the tourism industry has to start with travellers. Once travellers are inspired and empowered to have a positive social, economic and environmental impact on the places they visit, then tourism businesses will follow suit and the tourism industry can truly become a force for GOOD.

Do such pledges really make a difference?

Rebecca Ingram from Tourism New Zealand explains:

Tiaki was developed using research that indicated that it was important to inform people about the value New Zealanders place on our home and provide guidance on how to care for it. Tiaki seeks to change behaviour by informing and educating.

A recent study by found that 46% of globally travellers consider themselves a sustainable traveller, but only 5% of global travellers believe it is easy to travel sustainably. At GOOD Travel, we believe the Tiaki Promise is an exciting step in the right direction to addressing this problem. Travellers committing to the Tiaki Promise will now have clearer guidelines for how to travel sustainably in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Air New Zealand’s Head of Sustainability Lisa Daniell explains that the Tiaki Promise is also proving to be an exciting way to engage tourism businesses.

As one of the seven organisations involved in the initial development of the Tiaki Promise, I’m most excited by the fantastic response we have had from other tourism businesses who are also getting involved in communicating the Tiaki Promise to their customers. In order to get the message out to visitors, we need a collaborative effort across the tourism industry to educate visitors around how to travel responsibly and why it is so important we care for New Zealand.

The impact of the Tiaki Promise will become clearer with time. Rebecca Ingram states:

We will monitor views and engagement of Tiaki across our communications and promotional channels such as how many people view and engage with the website, social media and video etc. We will also be including a question about it in the Mood of the Nation survey and we are looking to include a question in the International Visitor Survey in January.

We asked Pania Tyson-Nathan from New Zealand Māori Tourism what changes she hoped to see in Aotearoa New Zealand as a result of the Tiaki Promise. She said:

  • For domestic and international visitors, we hope that people take heed of the concept of the Tiaki promise as a guiding principle and act as proud guardians while they are travelling around New Zealand.
  • Our intention is that our manuhiri, both domestic and international, seek out tours with Māori Tourism enterprises, be curious about our culture, and delight in our world class manaakitanga.
  • Manaaki manuhiri is an important concept in te ao Māori. It means to care and respect for all people, from all places. As tangata whenua, we hope that our visitors do the same with all cultures that live in Aotearoa New Zealand.
For domestic and international visitors, we hope that people take heed of the concept of the Tiaki promise as a guiding principle and act as proud guardians while they are travelling around New Zealand.

The level of influence that the Tiaki Promise has on traveller behaviour will ultimately depend on all of us. Each individual traveller can play a role in ensuring the success of the campaign - and that's where you come in.

Call to Action!

If you're a Kiwi or if you hope to visit Aotearoa New Zealand one day, here's what you can do right now:

  1. Go to
  2. Scroll down to Share your Promise
  3. Follow the steps
  4. Share your image with the hashtag #tiakipromise
  5. And most importantly, follow the commitments you have made.
July 23, 2023
5 min read