The New Zealand story

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International attendees at the World Veterinary Association Congress (WVAC) 2020 in Auckland will get an insight into the Māori worldview and the concept of kaitiakitanga.

In preparation for the World Veterinary Association Congress 2020 (WVAC 2020) in Auckland from 6 to 8 April, the NZVA has committed to drawing on the essence of Māori beliefs to give delegates a respectful and meaningful experience of New Zealand culture. This focus also helps to highlight the role and mana of the veterinary profession within a powerful worldview of wellbeing.

This story, which features in the WVAC 2020 prospectus, will be an integral part of our approach to hosting the international conference.

The Māori people have lived in Aotearoa New Zealand for centuries.

According to legend, the North Island of Aotearoa New Zealand (Te Ika-a-Māui) was fished up from the sea by Māui, a Māori demi-god.

For Māori, all parts of the environment are infused with mauri (life force) and are connected by whakapapa (genealogy).

People, plants and animals are all descendants of Ranginui (the sky father), Papatūānuku (the earth mother) and their children, which means humans are intrinsically linked and inseparable from animals, plants and the environment.

Kaitiakitanga (guardianship) is the responsibility to live respectfully with the environment to maintain the delicate balance between tangata whenua (people of the land) and the natural environment.

Kaitiakitanga seeks balance in sustaining our natural resources as the basis for our wellbeing.

Our history provides us with these powerful ideas, which we now see reflected in societal initiatives with this country's growing awareness of environmental sustainability.

In a similar way, 'One Health' is a global interdisciplinary approach that recognises the shared health of humans, animals and the environment.

Within this approach, the veterinary profession has an important role to play as guardians or kaitiaki of our shared health by addressing the health risks that can develop between animals, the environment and humans. This includes areas such as food safety, biosecurity, anti-microbial resistance and the impact of diseases that are easily transferred from animal to human.

As history is teaching us, the wellbeing of animals and the environment is inseparable from humans.

At the end of the day, their future is our future.