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Page URL: https://practice.orangatamariki.govt.nz/core-practice/practice-tools/the-tuituia-framework-and-tools/the-tuituia-framework-and-domains/behaviour-tuituia-domain/
Printed: 22/04/2024
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Last updated: 01/07/2019

Behaviour — Tuituia domain

The behaviour needs domain covers self-control or self-regulation including online gaming, understanding right from wrong and taking responsibility for own actions.

Upcoming changes for this content

This content will be strengthened so it more completely reflects our commitment to practice framed by te Tiriti o Waitangi, based on a mana-enhancing paradigm for practice, and drawing from ​Te Ao Māori principles of oranga to support mana tamaiti, whakapapa and whanaungatanga. We each need to consider how we can apply these principles to our practice when reading this content. The following resources provide support:
Practice for working effectively with Māori
Our practice approach

Upcoming changes for this domain

This content will be strengthened so it more completely reflects our commitment to practice framed by te Tiriti o Waitangi, based on a mana-enhancing paradigm for practice, and drawing from ​Te Ao Māori principles of oranga to support mana tamaiti, whakapapa and whanaungatanga. We each need to consider how we can apply these principles to our practice when reading this domain. The following resources provide support:
Practice for working effectively with Māori
Our practice shift

What is the behaviour domain

Other domains to consider when assessing the behavioural needs of te tamaiti or rangatahi are:

  • health (trauma, grief and loss, suicide and self-harm, emotional wellbeing, physical wellbeing, development.)
  • identity and culture (gender identity, disability)
  • friendships (empathy and respect and intimate relationships)
  • learning and achieving (skills, interests and abilities, self-care, independence, goals and aspirations)
  • education (attendance, achievement and engagement, training)
  • disability
  • safety.

In completing the assessment of any behaviour needs for te tamaiti it's important to:

  • seek the views of te tamaiti, their whānau and members of their hapū, iwi or family group who have important connections or relationships with te tamaiti
  • engage with the school, health professionals or other professionals involved with te tamaiti to seek their views and identify opportunities to work together, especially if te tamaiti is in care
  • review any specialist assessments including Gateway or Youth Justice screening assessments that have been completed or ensure these are undertaken if required
  • consider how the cultural perspectives of the whānau may influence the experience of te tamaiti and seek cultural support if required
  • seek the views of the caregiver if te tamaiti is in care
  • consider the relevant Tuituia domains to draw together your assessment.


  • Behaviour is how te tamaiti or rangatahi functions in their environment. Environment can mean our natural environment, our whānau, school, work, community and home environments as well as our larger social, cultural and political environments. We constantly process and interact with an ever-changing world around us. As we navigate through the world, we adapt and learn to behave in relation to what is happening around us, and how we are feeling.
  • Social behaviours are learned by watching, experimenting and imitating others. We learn from those around us about what are acceptable and unacceptable ways to behave. The examples set by adults, older siblings and other tamariki are powerful influences on the behaviour of te tamaiti or rangatahi. We do not expect people to behave randomly but to behave in socially accepted ways to different situations.  Such expectations can vary from group to group. Behaviours that are outside what is seen as normal or expected can become problematic for te tamaiti or rangatahi.
  • Behaviour is functional, meaning it serves a purpose and tells a story. Behaviour is also a way that te tamaiti or rangatahi communicate their needs, wants and distress. To begin understanding behaviour it is helpful to reserve judgement about what is considered good or bad or right or wrong behaviour and think about what the behaviour is communicating and why it could be helpful for the person in that situation.
  • There are implications when te tamaiti or rangatahi behaves in a manner that causes harm to people and/or property.  Having consequences for such behaviour and holding te tamaiti or rangatahi to account also provides an opportunity to provide support and interventions to change behaviour.
  • Some cultures and groups do not see accountability as just an individual responsibility but is a collective response from whānau or family and others closely connected to te tamaiti or rangatahi.


There are numerous gangs in New Zealand, of varying criminality, organisation and ethnicity. The New Zealand Police have distinguished between New Zealand gangs, outlaw motorcycle gangs and local street gangs. They named the three most prominent New Zealand gangs as Black Power, the Mongrel Mob, and the Nomads. New Zealand has about seventy major gangs and over 4,000 patched members.

Research says that tamariki raised in gang whānau or family have a higher risk of poorer outcomes because of exposure to:

  • child abuse, neglect and witnessing violence between their parents.
  • crime and antisocial behaviour meaning that almost a quarter of tamariki of gang-involved parents are known to the youth justice system in New Zealand.
  • being more likely to join a gang and tamariki often describe a sense of fatalism about their own gang involvement if their parents are gang members.

This does not mean that whenever a whānau or family has a gang association that te tamaiti in that home are automatically at risk of developing criminal or problematic behaviour. Trying to figure out what’s happening for tamariki and rangatahi is a helpful starting point for understanding the behaviour of those you’re working with.

Assessing behavioural needs

Assessing the behavioural needs of tamariki Māori

  • While the behavioural needs of tamariki and rangatahi Māori are assessed in the present context, analysis must be used that considers both the current and historical factors that impact tamariki and whānau Māori in today's society.
  • Māori continue to be impacted by historical and intergenerational trauma through colonisation and its long-term effects. For example if we consider the principle of ‘whakapapa’ that is central to a Māori worldview of wellbeing, many whānau who interact with the Oranga Tamariki system are disconnected from their whakapapa and the cultural values and practices which can provide protection and influence on pro-social behaviours.
  • The effects of systems barriers whānau Māori encounter such as discrimination, racism, deficit based stereo-types and the impacts these have on the whānau must also be considered when assessing their behaviour, the behaviour of the tamariki and as a result their behavioural needs.
  • Section 7AA of the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989, highlights the three over-arching and interconnected wellbeing principles of mana tamaiti, whakapapa and whanaungatanga that guide our approach and activities when assessing the behavioural needs of tamariki.

Duties of the chief executive in relation to the Treaty of Waitangi (Te Tiriti o Waitangi) – section 7AA of Oranga Tamariki Act 1989

  • The principle of Mana tamaiti (the power, potential authority, self-esteem and voice of te tamaiti or rangatahi) is directly linked to oranga (health and wellbeing). When mana is enhanced so is oranga. 

Whakamana te tamaiti — Practice empowering tamariki Māori

  • Tamariki are born with mana that is inherited through whakapapa (connection to whānau, hapu and Iwi, their connection to significant places such as marae, whenua and their connection to values) and when tamariki are nurtured positively within these social structures their potential is developed and expressed outwardly through their behaviour and skills.
  • In assessing behavioural needs of tamariki Māori we must observe how ‘mana tamaiti’ is being nurtured and developed and the affect that is having on their behaviour.   The principles of ‘whakapapa’ and ‘whanaungatanga’ enable us to explore this and the whakamana te tamaiti practice standard provides activities by which to apply the principles within a practice context.  

Whakamana te tamaiti — Practice empowering tamariki Māori

  • For example, the principle of whakapapa provides a diverse range of processes and elements by which to inform an assessment. How connected is te tamaiti to the healthy and safe members of their whānau, hapu and iwi?  The influence and strength of these connections and relationships supports te tamaiti or rangatahi to learn and understand pro-social behaviours.
  • Whakapapa is interconnected to the principle of ‘whanaungatanga’ or whānau obligations and relationships to that tamaiti.  The quality of these relationships gives te tamaiti or rangatahi an understanding of their place, role and responsibilities within their whānau structure and network and supports healthy development of pro-social behaviour. 
  • A lack of these constructs within the whānau may lead to behaviours that are not conducive to the healthy development of tamariki and as a result tamariki demonstrating negative behaviours that need supports. 
  • The assessment must therefore identify the healthy, safe whakapapa connections and the quality of the whanaungatanga relationships and responsibilities to ‘te tamaiti’ to gain insights into the behaviour of te tamaiti.  These must also be understood as ‘behavioural needs and influences’.
  • To achieve oranga, we must work in a way that acknowledges the aspirations and the central role that whānau play for many Māori, as a principal source of strength, support, security and identity.

Our Māori Cultural Framework and Toka Tūmoana provides a Te Ao Māori principled wellbeing framework from which to explore and apply principles such as ‘whakapapa’ in practice.

Working with Māori: Te Toka Tūmoana

Our Māori Cultural Framework

Care partners (s396 providers) and their caregivers: Assessing behavioural needs

When te tamaiti are placed with care partners and their caregivers the allocated social worker for the te tamaiti, in the same way that they work with an Oranga Tamariki caregiver, will work closely with the care partner and their caregiver to:

  • assess the behavioural needs of te tamaiti
  • agree on and document in the All About Me plan for te tamaiti - the behaviour support required (including who will undertake the agreed actions).

Age range

All ages. 

Assessment prompts and questions

  • Is te tamaiti living in a home where the adults prioritise their needs?
  • Does te tamaiti have a sense of belonging and connection? Do they feel like valued members of their whānau? Do they know their whakapapa, whanaungatanga and cultural connections and Marae giving them a sense of identity?
  • Do they know the whānau or family and cultural expectations of how they should behave and what is expected of them?
  • Does tamaiti have a disability that has an impact on their behaviour?
  • Is the behaviour of te tamaiti or rangatahi within the normal range for their age and development stage?
  • Do they show stress and distress from their situation?
  • Is te tamaiti being bullied or subject to unacceptable or harmful behaviours from others – peers, other tamariki or adults.
  • Is the behaviour of te tamaiti or rangatahi evidencing harm, trauma and distress?
  • Are challenging behaviours managed safely by whānau and other adults in their lives?
  • Do whānau or family model pro-social behaviour and help te tamaiti develop an understanding of how to respond in given situations?
  • Does te tamaiti display positive pro-social behaviour towards adults and peers?
  • What strengths does te tamaiti or rangatahi show?
  • To what extent does te tamaiti:
    •  share — taking turns, giving to others
    • help others — acts of kindness, rescuing, removing distress, showing positive verbal and physical contact, showing concern
    • co-operate with others — working together to reach goal, taking the perspective of another person and co-operating, showing concern, sympathy and kindness
  • Is te tamaiti proud of being Māori or belonging to their cultural group and actively engaged in celebrations, activities and interactions that support and encourage pro-social behaviour?

Subdomain: Self-control or self-regulation

  • Self-regulation, is the ability and practice  of managing one’s own impulses, emotions, body movements and behaviours in order to achieve outcomes.
  • Tamariki and rangatahi who have difficulty with self-regulation might be more likely to behave impulsively, and engage in harmful behaviors including substance misuse, harmful sexual activity, and offending. Normal development is a process of learning how to manage emotions and responses to the world te tamaiti and rangatahi live in through observing and learning what is considered acceptable and what is not.
  • Whānau play an important role in modelling self-control or self-regulation. Connections, belonging and self-efficacy are gained through knowing whakapapa and whanaungatanga connections. Te reo and tikanga are essential for supporting te tamaiti or rangatahi and whānau Māori.

Social media and online gaming

  • The use of social media, including online gaming, is important for rangatahi but when the time spent in these activities becomes excessive or interferes with education and training or isolates them from peers and activities they have previously enjoyed this needs to be understood.
  • For some rangatahi there is no question that their computer use is unhealthy and excessive. If computer games are taking priority over other activities such as school, relationships, clubs and sports so more time can be spent in front of the computer screen intervention may be required.
  • Be aware computer game addiction can be a symptom of other psychological, emotional, or interpersonal problems.  Excessive computer use also can be triggered or exacerbated by difficulties such as depression, anxiety, and poor social skills. 

Age range

All ages.

Assessment prompts

  • How does te tamaiti or rangatahi react in stressful or emotional situations?
    • Do they become excited, anxious and/or overwhelmed? Are they focused and attentive?
  • What might be behind a behavioural outburst? Is it appropriate for the age and developmental stage of te tamaiti or rangatahi?  Are there be needs related to disability and/or impairment (including sensory needs and preferences)?
  • Is te tamaiti or rangatahi withdrawing to a quiet spot, easily startled by sudden noises, avoiding touching or hugging people and shutting down, becoming upset about small changes in routines and environments and dislikes trying new things? They may be sensory avoidant.
  • Is te tamaiti or rangatahi playing roughly, taking physical risks, squirming and fidgeting, always on the move, has no sense of other people’s space, gets distracted, feels anxious and are clumsy and uncoordinated? They may be sensory seeking.
  • Can te tamaiti be comforted and settled by parents/caregivers and look to others to calm and regulate them when distressed so they are learning to manage their emotional responses?
  • Can they manage stress and distress?
  • Can te tamaiti control impulses so they can wait, suspend activities, and/or tolerate frustration?
  • Is te tamaiti or rangatahi spending excessive amounts of time online at the expense of other activities?
  • Can te tamaiti concentrate on tasks — are they easily distracted; can they follow directions and stay within guidelines; bring themselves back to task?
  • Is the parent/caregiver/whānau aware of how te tamaiti responds emotionally? Are they able to support and assist them to understand and learn ways of managing their emotions in a safe, stable and loving home?

Preventing suicide and self-harm

Descriptors: Self-control or self-regulation

Under 5 years old

10 — Is living in a home where the needs of te tamaiti are a priority, and the adults providing care support their emotional and social development.

Whānau or family model effective self-control, actively encouraging the child to understand their own feelings and helping them to manage their own emotions. Tamaiti are connected to Marae, whakapapa, whanaungatanga and cultural connections and understand their whānau or family norms.

Older tamaiti shows the ability to manage emotions and behaviour in a range of settings, and is able to concentrate on a task by themselves — drawing, doing a puzzle etc.

5 — The needs of te tamaiti are not always a priority and adult needs may not always respond to te tamaiti in a supportive and responsive way.

Whānau or family generally manage their own emotions but can struggle when under stress or facing challenges. 

Te tamaiti has difficulty managing their own feelings and emotions and there are frequent outbursts although te tamaiti can be comforted