Mana exists in all of us, including pēpi and tamariki. Mokopuna need adults who acknowledge them as having their own mana and who make their wellbeing a priority.

can mean prestige, influence and power. The page on mana in begins by telling us that mana derives from the sacred power of the gods. It is passed down to tamariki from and places them within the cosmic order. Everyone had a responsibility to ensure the mana of the whānau was safe and stayed intact for succeeding generations.

Forms of mana

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. Being acknowledged for how well they’ve treated will lift the mana of a group.

While mana can be enhanced through an individual’s own actions, it can also be lost, resulting in negative consequences for the entire whānau, and iwi.

In modern times, mana as a term has evolved and transformed to its current meaning of authority and rights, but the authority achieved by a person with mana, is still likened to that of the most supreme status.

Tūpuna Parenting: Mana and tapu

Tūpuna Parenting: Mana and Tapu (transcript)

Respecting mana

Situations where someone is being verbally harassed or abused can cause stress or anxiety for anyone involved, including bystanders, particularly if they’re young children.

When adults lose their cool, yell, shout, or hit children, they are trampling on that child’s mana. Young minds can find such events doubly confusing and stressful as they try to make sense of what is happening, especially if it involves people they love.

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.

Recommend resource

Aroha in action

The booklet Aroha in action explains why we should respect the mana and tapu of mokopuna. It explains how disrespecting this could increase the chance for tamariki to develop negative behaviours and issues later in life.

pdf 5 MB

Conversation ideas

What does mana mean to you?
How do you see mana in others? How do you see your mana?
Have you experienced being shamed or ‘put down’ by someone?
How did that make you feel? What did you do?
What about when we’ve put someone down ourselves?
What sort of feelings are experienced by each person involved?

Rebuilding mana

Any parent who loses their cool and verbally or physically lashes out towards their partner, tamariki or other whānau members often feels ‘stink’ about their behaviour afterward. They can feel like their own mana has been diminished through their lack of personal control.

Feeling remorseful and admitting our behaviour was wrong are the first steps in the process of rebuilding our sense of mana and the mana of the others concerned. Rebuilding our relationships, especially with our tamariki, is so important. Not only does it lessen their anxiety, it also models how things can get better after hurtful or challenging events happen.

Conversation ideas

What sort of things could make your tamaiti feel their mana has been hurt?
What could you do to make it right for them?
How could we avoid it happening again?
How can you enhance your child's mana?

Conscious parenting

As whānau supporters, we have a role to help whānau understand that their behaviour may be diminishing the mana of their tamaiti.

Talk with whānau about using positive discipline not physical punishment. The simplest tikanga we can have for our whānau is ‘no hitting’. This helps maintain the mana and of all whānau members and reduces the risk of anyone getting hurt.

Conversation ideas

Do you think of using these suggestions as a guide to help preserve mana for your tamaiti, for yourself and for your whānau?
Are there any that you’d like to put into your daily routines that would keep your own mana intact?
What would you like to ask of other people?
What can you put in place for yourself?
Do others know what is important to you and how to help you feel respected?

Helpful resources for whānau