Te ao Māori
Te ao Māori
"Toi tu te kupu, toi tu te mana, toi tu te whenua"
This proverb was spoken by Tinirau of Wanganui. It is a plead to hold fast to our culture, for without language, without mana (spirit), and without land, the essence of being Māori would no longer exist, but be a skeleton which would not give justice to the full body of Māoritanga (Māoridom).
An understanding of the Māori world (te ao Māori) embraces an interconnectedness and interrelationship of both living and non-living things. 'Te Hoe Nuku Roa' (Durie, 1995) provides one framework for understanding elements underpinning Māori identity.
- Tangata whenua: The people’s relationship with the land (which provides a sense of belonging).
- Wairua: Spirituality (which provides a sense of meaning, connection and purpose).
- Whakapapa: Ancestral ties (which provide ancestral-based wisdom and appropriate guidelines for living).
- Tikanga Māori: Customs (which carry values and cultural practices unique to Māori people).
The 'Koru of Māori Ethics' was developed by Manuka Henare in 1998. The core Māori values of Mana (respect), Mauri (life force), Tapu (sacredness), Io (God), and Hau (essence of vitality) are depicted in the centre of the koru as the founding values that inform the ethical concepts and practices of Kotahitanga, Wairuatanga, Whanaungatanga and Kaitiakitanga.
Tikanga Māori values
|What it looks like
|A sense of belonging
|Getting to know one another
|Ability to extend aroha
|Rangatahi helping each other, Tautoko, coaching, awhi-support, active listening, walking the walk, follow up
|Everyone doing the same thing at the same time
|Being in control
|Sharing of information
|Building on knowledge
|Learning something and how to apply it
|Tuakana / Teina
|Experienced helping those less experienced
|Guard our taonga e.g. traditional Māori takaro, tikanga, natural resources
|Benevolent guardianship – not so much keeping others away, as sharing with reciprocity (giving back)
|Genealogy of the rangatahi, the history of the tipuna and the waahi
|Making whānau links in groups. Mihi / Pepeha, learn and share, whakapapa of taonga takaro, place names, waka, connections
|A sense of wellbeing. A connection to whenua, ngahere, moana, maunga, awa
|The placing into practice that which is correct
|Understanding rules and boundaries and what is right thing
|Sharing of kai, Whakawhanaungatanga
|Paying respect to nga Atua
|Karakia, knowing & respecting the realms of each atua and their roles in our everyday lives. Learning around Nga Atua Māori and the roles they play in te Ao Māori
Indigenous knowledge has value
The power of Kawa, Tikanga, and Kaupapa to provide answers to today's problems - By Curtis Bristowe, TEDxRuakura.
Mana: The power in knowing who you are
Providing an historical, contextual discussion of Māori identity in the context of treaty settlements, collective identity, connection to the land and iwi - By Tame Iti, TEDxAuckland.
Some Māori have a strong sense of place in te ao Māori while others may feel their identity is less strongly connected to their Māori heritage, or they're disconnected from this world. It’s never too late to begin exploring your heritage further.
If you would like to explore these questions yourself, or to learn more about te ao Māori, contact your nearest Maori Cultural Advisor, Kaumātua or Marae.