Understanding baby’s identity and how baby communicates.


Ngā tohu pēpi – Babies’ cues

This lays the foundation for the rest of the journey through the Hikitia workshops. It’s a good one to start with. Use it to:

  • ‘set the scene’ and the for the coming workshops
  • help whānau build a vision of what the journey means for them, and to prepare for it.

Begin by giving an overview using the Āhuru Mōwai Hikitia introduction.

Taumauri – Mana whenua

The underlying philosophy of this wānanga is based on Āhuru Mōwai principle ‘mana whenua’ – children have good relationships at home, and those links are affirmed and extended with others outside the home.

Wairua and whatumanawa

Learn and use the words (spirit) and (emotions) to embrace the kaupapa of this wānanga.


Give an overview of the topic. Emphasise that this hui will centre on the importance of:

  • identity
  • belonging
  • expression
  • communication
  • whakapapa
  • home and whānau links
  • security and attachment.

Introduce the session

Give an overview of the topic. Emphasise that this hui will centre on the importance of:

  • identity
  • belonging
  • expression
  • communication
  • whakapapa
  • home and whānau links
  • security and attachment.

Discuss connections

Give a short presentation on the traditional significance of Papatūānuku. Talk about her role in the sustenance of life, and how she contributes to wellbeing and security (Āhuru Mōwai booklet, page 21).

Talk about our connection with Papatūānuku and the practices of burying the , and placement of the (Tākai booklet Te Kākano, page 11).

Ko wai au?

  • au
  • whānau

In pairs or small groups, think and talk about the following questions. Record responses on the flipchart.

  • How do you connect with your pēpi?
  • How does your whānau connect with your pēpi?
  • How does your pēpi connect with you?
  • How do you know what your pēpi wants?
  • Have you noticed different cries?
  • Brainstorm what attachment looks like for participants and their pēpi.

Observe how pēpi communicates

Express the importance of ‘ ’. Explain that pēpi establishes language best when both watching and listening to the person speaking.

If pēpi is present and awake, ask participants to watch what baby is doing, and take special notice of how pēpi is communicating.

  • Is pēpi hungry, sleepy, distressed or content, and how do you know?
  • Is pēpi using sounds, body language, eyes?

If pēpi is asleep, observe this.

  • Is it a deep or light sleep?
  • Why do you think that?
  • Is pēpi moving around?

Connecting with pēpi:

  • Encourage their first efforts to communicate by responding in te reo Māori.
  • Listen to their voice and look at how they’re communicating – for example, crying, squealing, smiling.
  • Introduce te reo Māori through waiata.
  • Timing is important too. This means noticing when pēpi is ready to participate.

Positive caregiving

  • It’s important that the extended whānau support and cooperate with positive childrearing practices.
  • Talk with those who will want to help care for pēpi about some of the childrearing practices, so everyone has a shared understanding.
  • Baby’s wairua, whatumanawa and need to be nurtured through positive attention and interaction at the right times.


Explain this and encourage whānau to have a 2-minute discussion about its meaning:


E kore au e ngaro he kākano i ruia mai i Rangiātea.

I will never be lost, as I am a seed from Rangiātea.


Make a collage poster of natural materials that depicts baby’s whakapapa. Include their , and important people. Tell pēpi about these places and people as often as you can.


Bring everyone together for closing. Offer an opportunity for whānau to share their collage if they want to, and an opportunity to give feedback on their experience of the session.

Reflect on the kaupapa of this hui, ‘Ko wai ahau?’

Close with a karakia and a waiata – your own, or see the ones provided.

Workshop materials

  • flipchart
  • markers
  • sticky notes
  • a variety of natural resources
  • PVA glue
  • glue sticks or sticky tape,
  • scissors
  • other craft resources such as glitter and coloured card.