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American Indian ceremonial dancer in all of their amazing colors and details at a Pow-wow with storyteller Marie Haley of The Seventh Generation.

Introducing The Seventh Generation Principle – to Promote True Sustainability

The Seventh Generation Principle is an Indigenous Concept, to think of the 7th generation coming after you in your words, work and actions, and to remember the seventh generation who came before you.

The Seventh Generation Principle

The seventh generation principle is based on an ancient philosophy of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy (Iroquois), which is recognized as the oldest democracy in the world and believed to be the model of the American Constitution, the foundation document of the most powerful and prosperous nation on earth.  

The Seventh Generation Principle American Indian
The American Indian culture custom and costume is central to their very existence.

Maori, the indigenous people of New Zealand have similar concepts to the seventh generation principle, in reciting whakapapa or the genealogy of all things and is central to all Maori institutions, connecting people to the past, present and future and the non-human world. So as the American Indians believe, all things are connected, air, water, land, and animals.

For me the seventh generation principle comes from seventh generations of living on one piece of land, that we have stood here, breathed here, cried here, died here. While I have had a thousand influences in my life from many different cultures and belief systems, it is the land that has taught me. It is the truth of living in place that has taught me the seventh generation principle, because we are simply on a continuum. I belong only to this place.

Native Americans never took a stance; we’ve always respected the earth. Anytime we do something that will affect nature, we ask ourselves, how will this affect seven generations? The earth is our mother, the sky is our father, and everything in between is our brothers and sisters. Everybody deserves respect and the right to be listened to.

Dale Carson
Sustainability Regenerative Tourism
The Seventh Generation Principal – Akaroa Natural and Cultural History Tours

Looking back over seven generations can create an ecological baseline, my family were the first French settlers to Akaroa, the first planned European settlement in the South Island of New Zealand. When they arrived to Akaroa it was a paradise, with white sand beaches, abundant birdsong, clean water and giant forests, this was recorded by the explorers and settlers of the time. The harbor was filled with fish to eat and whales came inshore to breed.

All of this has changed, now the hills erode into the sea with every storm, causing sediment laden brown water and filling the harbor with sludge, it is difficult to ever catch a fish within the harbor and we are battling against a plague of introduced predators, ship rats, cats and mustelids that kill and eat the bird-life. The forests were felled and within 90 years only 1% of the original forest remained.

“It serves not only as a reminder of the wrongs of the past but also the hopes and aspirations of the future seven generations.”

Tāwera Tahuri

In Akaroa so much has come to pass in seven generations, from the bloody 1830 Brig Elizabeth incident involving the first Europeans in inter-tribal warfare where 200 Maori were killed, leading directly to the first British Resident to New Zealand and the Declaration of Independence that gave way to the Treaty of Waitangi that was first signed at Onuku in the South Island, and the first demonstration of British sovereignty over the South Island to beat the French in the ‘race for Akaroa’, the establishment of Akaroa French town, and the destruction of the forests.

tents of French settlement Akaroa
When the French settlers landed they erected the sails of the ship for tents so they could sleep on land. They found the bird song in the morning so loud!

Then the Kemp and Mantel Land ‘Purchases’ where the Maori were forced to sell large tracts of land for a pittance. The influence and other disease outbreaks that decimated the already small population. Urbanisation from the land to the cities for employment and the associated loss of culture and connection to place. And finally, the resurgence of cultural identity and language in the 1970’s and 80’s leading to the Waitangi Tribunal and settlements of grievance claims.

“Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it.”

Winston Churchill (paraphrased)
Akaroa Private Tours Things to do in Akaroa
The Seventh Generation Principle – Natural and Cultural History Tours.

The Seventh Generation Principle in Action in my Life.

In knowing my history and my connection to the ground upon which I stand, my tūrangawaewae, I know who I am. This gives me the power to take responsibility for my past, and for the future of the land and community in which I belong. My actions are for the future with a mind to the past, this is guardianship or kaitiakitanga, for the seventh generation after me.

I now apply the seventh generation principle to regenerate the land that holds me, to create a deeper and richer abundance of life force or mauri, in what I call true sustainability. To raise animals that are well-loved, hand feed and named. To grow my child with homegrown food, in soil I have touched. At two when asked ‘what is in the garden?’ she replied simply ‘dinner’.

My deep and real connection to place and to indigenous concepts led me in my university years to a scholarship to Idaho in America where I had the absolute privilege to study with the chiefs of the Nez Perce and Cœur d’Alêne tribes, while studying Buddhism, ecology and geology, completely mixing up these world views. From the American Indians I learned to cross the boundaries between ‘us’ and ‘them’, and to recognize the Great Spirit and all my brothers and sisters. This was quite a step from my Pakeha upbringing.

Hinewai Reserve The Seventh Generation Principle
Mature old growth forest once covered the hills of Akaroa from summit to sea.

Holding a ‘seventh generation principle’ worldview has enabled me to envision the abundance and beauty of this place as it was and has guided me to work in community-based conservation to protect and enhance for the future. It was from this that I discovered my love of storytelling and this was when my The Seventh Generation Tours business was born. I now tell stories that teach our history, but more importantly to me stories that share my vision for the seventh generation coming after us.

For as it was, so again it can be. White sand beaches, with forest growing from summit to sea, clean and clear waterways with a life force or mauri that is apparent and strong, bird song to accompany our day and natural quiet in which our dreams can grow.

Nature, beauty, abundance and life. This is the story I tell, to give people hope for the future. And inspiration that we have come so far, through so much, and that life really is just getting better all the time. That in the past we did not value the natural world, we did not see the economic value of bees, fresh air and water, we did not value our native people, language and customs. There is hope, and that hope is real. Think of “the faces that are yet beneath the surface of the ground—the unborn of the future nation.” THIS is THE SEVENTH GENERATION PRINCIPLE IN ACTION!

Native Forest on Farmland In New Zealand
Native forest is regenerating without stock thanks to fencing funding from Christchurch City Council and Environment Canterbury

The Seventh Generation Principle in Regenerative Tourism

The ‘Tourism with Purpose Plan for Regenerative Tourism‘ adopts the seventh generation principle as it’s ‘higher purpose’ to create a tourism industry that helps the community flourish, to regenerate and not extract, to enhance the visitor through the experiences and places shared authentically, “That unique visitor experience transforms their souls, and they take with them a piece of [the] history and culture, as well as indelible impression of our people and place.” The plan identifies the need to think of place as a living system, that tourism develops in harmony with place and in relationship with place and community.

“The broken parts of this planet need to be fixed. The Māori tangata whenua suggest that, among other things, a sense of identity and belonging can grow from a positive relationship with the natural environment. Likewise, degrading the environment risks weakening identity and belonging. A poor relationship with nature triggers consequences that impact everyone’s wellbeing. Destination development must work to understand the land as well as protect and promote its vital resources.”

Bay of Plenty Tourism with Purpose, A Plan for Regenerative Tourism

The New Zealand Government lead by Jacinda Ardern is taking COVID-19 as a opportunity to ‘reset’ and ‘build back better’ delivering funding to Regional Tourism Organisations to plan for regenerative tourism that contributes to the New Zealand economy, communities and environment when the international boarders reopen. There is a shift towards incorporating Maori concepts and biculturalism and telling the stories of New Zealand in more compelling ways. Not simply returning to a revenue driven tourism sector with high rates of international visitors.

  • Marie Haley is a storyteller, historian and ecologist who as well as a full time Mum, is raising all the vegetables, meat, eggs and firewood her family needs, has a milking cow and the beginnings of an orchard and extensive berry garden. Marie runs the regenerative tourism business The Seventh Generation and a regenerative farm, with extensive conservation efforts for carbon sequestration and to protect the native forest ecosystem, waterways, and animal life that share their home with her. Marie is committed to telling authentic stories that ground you in place and help you question who you are.

Best Tour Ever! Marie Haley has extensive knowledge of the culture, history and geography of the area. She is personable, friendly, and you will a better person after spending time with Marie.


Marie Haley

I am your guide, Marie Haley, I was born and raised on Banks Peninsula. The seventh generation direct decedent of Akaroa’s very first French settler. I grew up on the family farm following in the footsteps of my Grandfather, and his Grandfather before.