The mana of tamariki can be enhanced or diminished by the way we discipline and guide them.
Mana can mean prestige, influence and power. Māori believe mana exists in three forms.
- Mana can be inherited through our whakapapa.
- Mana can be given by others in recognition of good deeds or humility.
- A group can achieve mana too. Being acknowledged for how well they’ve treated manuhiri will lift the mana of a group.
Mana exists in all of us, even pēpi and tamariki. Everyone has mana to keep themselves safe. Mana can be having the confidence to speak up if something feels wrong or unsafe.
The role of whānau supporters
This is a reminder that if any of us are feeling wronged, we need to feel able to do something about it. As whānau supporters, we have a role to help whānau to express their concerns through the correct channels, or to help them understand that their behaviour may be diminishing the mana of their tamaiti.
Learn to use positive discipline not physical punishment. Page 12 of the Aroha in Action booklet suggests the simplest tikanga we can have for our whānau is ‘no hitting’. This helps maintain the mana and tapu of all whānau members and reduces the risk of anyone getting hurt.
Ngā Tohu Whānau, also known as the six principles of effective discipline, outline things that help kids grow up to be happy and capable adults.
- Te aroha me te mahana – love and warmth
- Te kōrero me te whakarongo – talking and listening
- Te ārahi me te māramatanga – guidance and understanding
- Te tūāpapa mō te tika me te hē – limits and boundaries
- Te mahi pono - ngā hua me ngā hapa – consistency and consequences
- Te hanga ao tōtika, ao haumaru – a structured and secure world
Using these strategies for positive relationships consistently upholds the mana of tamariki. When adults lose their cool, yell, shout, or hit children, they are trampling on that child’s mana. Helping whānau to consider how they feel as adults when their mana is not respected, and they are treated in this way, might get them thinking about the damage that can be done to young children through unsafe or disrespectful environments.
Āhuru Mōwai (pages 17–19) [PDF, 460 KB]
This comprehensive article begins by telling us that mana derives from the sacred power of the gods. It is passed down to tamariki from tīpuna and places them within the cosmic order.
Mana can be enhanced through an individual’s own actions and mana can also be lost, resulting in negative consequences for the entire whānau, hapū and iwi.
The common element with all five kaupapa whakahirahira in Āhuru Mōwai is mana:
- Mana Atua – wellbeing
- Mana Whenua – belonging
- Mana Tangata – contribution
- Mana Reo – communication
- Mana Aotūroa – exploration
Each embodies an area of learning and development that is woven into the whāriki of whānau, to provide a strong foundation for the ongoing positive growth of pēpi and tamariki.
All of the resources mentioned here have a consistent message. Mokopuna need adults who acknowledge them as having their own mana and who make their wellbeing a priority.
Tūpuna Parenting: Mana and Tapu
Tūpuna Parenting: Mana and Tapu (transcript)
Liz Harte and Hana Tuwhare appear on screen together, seated opposite one another surrounded by native bush. The following text appears on screen beneath them: Liz Harte - Ngati Porou, Ngāpuhi- Pēpi Penapena AND Hana Tuwhare - Ngāpuhi - Talking Matters.
Liz: So our tūpuna, our ancestors from pre-colonial times, they parented quite differently to some whānau today. There are two pou, two pillars of tūpuna Māori parenting. Firstly, pēpi are born with mana.
Hana: What does mana mean to you?
Liz: I mean, the dictionary says it’s a spiritual power, it’s authority, its prestige. But , you know, for my whānau it’s that potential greatness of pēpi. It’s the potential they have to grow into a productive person in future. The mana comes from the atua, spirit world, and from their tūpuna, from their ancestors. It’s inherited and we all have it. Our tūpuna believe this and they treated pēpi with respect. So we know how we show respect to other adults. We hold open a door for them or give a kuia or a koro a chair. With pēpi we don’t really talk about that a lot. We can do that with pēpi. We can kōrero with our pēpi, we can interact with our pēpi just as we do with adults. Absolutely, aē. The second pou of tūpuna parenting is pēpi are born tapu, born sacred. Tapu is a tricky thing, but because pēpi are from the atua,that means that they’re protected, untouchable, protected by the gods.
Hana: So what did that mean for our pēpi?
Liz: Well, for pēpi and tamariki, it meant that our tūpuna didn’t smack them or insult them in any way.
Hana: Do you reckon our tūpuna used to kōrero more with our pēpi to enhance the mana of our pēpi?
Liz: Āe, absolutely. I remember the story you shared about the bean bags…
Liz: During the lockdown my son opened up the bean bag and got the beans all over the living room floor. Huge mess! But I took a big breath and I kept my cool.
Hana: Āe, I’m sure even though it would have been hard.
Liz: Āe, I explained to him that he wasn’t allowed to go outside and play opn his bike with his sister unitil we had cleared up every last bean. We got there in the end and I helped him and I was talking to him the whole time.
Hana: Beautiful, that was an opportunity for you to reclaim some tūpuna parenting. You got down to his level, you introduced some new language, some new concepts and you problem solved together as a team.
Liz: It’s really kind of simple everyday example of tūpuna parenting.
Hana:So next time I get hōha with my nephews and nieces and I’ve got some time…
Liz:Āe, channel your tūpuna. Keep your cool and have a kōrero.
Hana: It’s really the best thing.
Liz:E pai ana
(Fades to white background with and the words ‘TALKING TO PĒPI RECOGNISES THEIR MANA AND THEIR TAPU NATURE’ appear in the middle of the screen above logos for: Talking Matters and Pēpi Penapena)
A review of research for ‘campaign for action on family violence’ produced by the Centre for Social Research and Evaluation: