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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.

Positive discipline

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