Māori values are derived from a common or universal Māori belief system. These Māori beliefs are:
- derived partly from a religious base
- central to Māori life.
Fundamental concepts include:
- Whakapapa - genealogical descent, lineage;
- Mauri - the life force, the essential essence of being, an energy which permeates through all living things;
- Ritenga - custom, rules, regulations, protocols, includes rāhui and tapu.
The traditional Māori whakapapa begins with Ranginui the Sky Father, and Papatūānuku the Earth Mother. They had several children, who are departmental gods (atua). Included amongst them are Tangaroa (parent/origin of water or god of the sea) and Tāne Mahuta (god of forests and man). The Māori view of the world can be broadly defined as a series of states or dimensions:
- the material or physical state, which is familiar to most people. It is exposed to us through our senses, and it is the one we can directly observe and describe (e.g. taha tinana);
- the mental or intellectual state, which requires us to think holistically to understand the whole system, with all processes, not just one part of it (e.g. taha hinengaro);
- the spiritual state, which many people are unfamiliar with. It is the spiritual dimension of Māori culture (taha wairua);
- the related/associative state, which is learnt over a long period of co-existance and association with the environment. We say that we learn by experience (e.g. taha whanaunga).
Land, water, and air to Māori are special taonga. Their use and management require special care and attention. There are a number of terms commonly used in resource management today derived from the traditional Māori belief system:
ahi kā: The principle of occupation, caretakership and use.
aroha: Wise use of resources based on the motive of care and concern.
kaitiakitanga: Spiritual/cultural and physical guardianship based on tikanga. The root word is tiaki which means "look after".
mana: Authority, influence, prestige.
rāhui: Regulation on the use of resources for conservation purposes.
rohe: Area of land within a generally recognised boundary.
tapu: The principle of respect which enables good and proper decisions to be made regarding the use of resources.
tikanga: Social norms, customs, practices and lore adhered to by Māori.