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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/friendships-tuituia-domain/
Printed: 26/04/2024
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Last updated: 01/07/2019

Friendships — Tuituia domain

The friendship domain examines the importance of developing friendships for te tamaiti or rangatahi and the ways in which friendships impact on their attitude and behaviours.

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

What is the friendship domain

The domain covers empathy and respect, peers and friends and for rangatahi intimate relationships. This includes the influences of peers and social media.

When considering this also consider the following domains for tamaiti or rangatahi in care.

Health – Tuituia domain

Identity and culture – Tuituia domain

Behaviour – Tuituia domain

Networks of support – Tuituia subdomain

Learning and achieving– Tuituia domain

Assessment of needs relating to any disability

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

  • seek the views of te tamaiti, their whānau or family 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 or family 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.


Friendship is a relationship of mutual affection between people that has a stronger form of interpersonal bond than an association. Although there are many forms of friendship, some of which may vary from place to place, certain characteristics are present: 

  • kindness
  • love
  • virtue
  • sympathy
  • empathy
  • honesty
  • altruism
  • loyalty
  • generosity
  • forgiveness
  • mutual understanding and compassion
  • enjoyment of each other's company
  • trust
  • the ability to be oneself
  • being able to express one's feelings to others
  • capacity to make mistakes without fear of judgment from the friend.

Friendship is an essential aspect of relationship building skills.


The understanding of friendship in tamariki tends to be focused on areas such as common activities, physical proximity, and shared expectations, providing opportunity for playing and practicing self-regulation. As tamariki mature, they become less individualized and are more aware of others. They gain the ability to empathize with their friends, and enjoy playing in groups.


For rangatahi friendships become more giving, sharing, frank, supportive, and spontaneous and are often strengthened by mutual interests and activities, such as sport and cultural activities.

Support for play, recreation, and community activities — section 34 of the National Care Standards considers, when assessing friendships, how you will maintain, support and develop this area for te tamaiti or rangatahi in the All About Me plan.

All About Me plan to meet the needs of tamariki

Support for play, recreation, and community activities — section 34 National Care Standards

Social media

Access to social media is now central to rangatahi developing a social identity. It’s the way that they connect with their friends and can be a healthy way to hang out. Developing healthy habits is important to promote positive use of social media.

It’s important rangatahi develop resilience and competence in their use of social media and are aware of the impact their behaviour might have on others.

Rangatahi need to understand that online postings can be photoshopped and images and information about people isn’t always accurate.

They also need to be aware that once an image or information has been sent to one person online there’s no limit to the extent it can be used or misused by others.

Safe rules for social media

Discuss the pressure to share online

Te tamaiti and rangatahi constantly feel pressure to share pictures and other details about their lives. Have a positive conversation about the value of privacy to help relieve them of that pressure.

Understand the permanence of social media

Remind caregivers, te tamaiti and rangatahi that there’s no such thing as deleting something on social media.

Educate them about online strangers

Predators use the internet to track and contact tamariki. It’s important te tamaiti or rangatahi knows who he or she contacts or accepts friend requests from.

Understanding online bullying

Girls are more likely to be subject to online bullying (also known as cyberbullying) when a person uses digital technology to send, post or publish content with the intention to harm another person or a group. This behaviour is often aggressive, repeated and involves some kind of power imbalance between the people involved.

Girls’ online friendships are more visually-oriented than boys. These practices place teenage girls at risk for problems associated with bullying such as gossip, name-calling, spreading rumors, coercion, and shaming.


Tamariki in care

Be aware of existing and developing friendships and connections of te tamaiti or rangatahi that provide support and encourage positive self-esteem.

Consider how te tamaiti or rangatahi can continue their involvement in their school, sport and recreational activities where friendships are often formed.

Care partners (396 providers) and their caregivers

When tamariki are placed with care partners and their caregivers, the allocated social worker for 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 friendship needs of te tamaiti
  • agree on and document in the All About Me plan for te tamaiti the support required (including who will undertake the agreed actions) to maintain and build friendships.

All About Me plan to meet the needs of tamariki

Subdomain: Empathy and respect

Respect starts with being willing to give someone your complete attention and put aside what is important to you so you can listen attentively.

Empathy is:

  • feeling with someone
  • being connected
  • seeing yourself in the other person’s situation.

Sympathy is feeling for someone. Sympathy is being detached and focuses on doing something to help.

As te tamaiti or rangatahi learns to manage their thoughts, attitudes and emotions, the behaviour that results from them and the related skills, beliefs and attitudes they use to develop interpersonal relationships their self-esteem, belonging and connections develop and grow.

Age range

All ages.

Assessment prompts

  • Does te tamaiti or rangatahi recognise emotion in others and know how to respond to, for example, anger, frustration, happiness, worry?
  • Do they recognise these emotions in themselves and know how to manage them?
  • Are the adults in their life setting te tamaiti or rangatahi a good example by labelling and talking about feelings and emotions and responding and managing their own behaviours with others?
  • What is te tamaiti or rangatahi and their whānau or family beliefs and behaviour with social media – is it safe or of concern
  • Does te tamaiti or rangatahi have the language to convey their own feelings?
  • How are they encouraged to help and be involved in whānau or family and community activities by parents, whānau or family, caregivers or older siblings – do they praise, encourage, punish, ignore?
  • Does the whānau or family encourage and support te tamaiti or rangatahi to be involved in Marae activities and whanaungatanga responsibilities in an age-appropriate way that helps them learn tikanga and kawa and know how to behave and respond to others?

Descriptors: empathy and respect

Under 5 year olds

10 — Behaves sympathetically when others are unhappy, upset or embarrassed – for example, they may cry when another tamaiti cries. Helps another tamaiti or parent with chores etc. Has a warm and secure relationship with an adult who models kind behaviour and actively helps te tamaiti develop caring behaviour — rewards kindness, explains the effects of hurting others, describes emotions in te tamaiti and others.

5 — Shows some ability to recognise own and others’ emotions, offers comfort or help to others. Parent or caregiver models kind behaviour some of the time and has some idea of how to help te tamaiti develop caring behaviour.

1 — Is experiencing care that is harsh and predominantly negative. Adults are modelling unkind behaviour towards te tamaiti and others when te tamaiti is present. Is not helping te tamaiti recognise feelings and emotions in themselves or others. Te tamaiti is not showing any sign that they are learning to recognise emotions in themselves or others, such as offering comfort, using a range of emotion words, or recognising happy, sad, frightened or angry faces.

Over 5 year olds

10 — Behaves sympathetically when others are unhappy, upset or embarrassed. Helps others, is considerate and mindful of others’ feelings, volunteers to help others.

5 — Is inconsistent in responding and showing feelings, sometimes acts inappropriately – for example, may laugh or show enjoyment when someone is hurt but responds appropriately when talked with after the incident.

1 — No apparent perception of others’ feelings, unaffected by others’ distress, joy etc. Focused on self-interest only. Shows no respect for others and has no appreciation or consideration of their behaviour on others.

Subdomain: Peers/friends

Tamaiti development has always drawn attention to the importance of peers, especially in adolescence, when peers may facilitate each other’s risk taking behavior. It has often been assumed that peers are less important in early childhood, when relationships and positive support from family members is more influential, but even infants spend time with peers.

Peers and friends are important influences on the behavior of te tamaiti and rangatahi. Friendships can be a great source of joy for te tamaiti or rangatahi but can also be a stressor and harmful if there is peer pressure te tamaiti or rangatahi feels uncomfortable with or bullying.

Friendships are helpful in creating and sustaining a sense of belonging and helping te tamaiti or rangatahi settle into new environments and activities but can also create a sense of isolation and sadness if te tamaiti or rangatahi feels they are not part of the group.

Stress can be created for te tamaiti or rangatahi by peers. Sometimes a group can make subtle signals without saying anything at all, influencing how te tamaiti or rangatahi dress, talk and behave in order to win acceptance and approval.

The pressure to conform (to do what others are doing) can be powerful and hard to resist. Peers also influence te tamaiti and rangatahi in the way they dress and act, things they're involved in and the attitudes they show.

As school and other activities take them away from home, rangatahi may spend more time with peers than with parents and siblings. Close friendships mean te tamaiti or rangatahi may feel so connected to their peers that they are like an extended family.

Age range

Under 5 year olds.

Assessment prompts

  • How do they understand friendship? Are they able to play, engage and share with other tamariki? Remember at age under 3 years te tamaiti may engage in parallel play where tamariki may play alongside each other but not necessarily with each other, and have difficulty taking turns.
  • Does te tamaiti take part in group activities or actively avoid other tamariki
  • What opportunities are there for parents or other caregivers to encourage play with other tamariki or is te tamaiti isolated and rarely exposed to other tamariki?
  • Is te tamaiti encouraged to have friends to play? Are there issues within the family home that preclude this, such as known behaviours and activities?

Descriptors: peers/friends

10 — The ability and opportunity to develop and maintain friendships is well supported by the home and social environment of te tamaiti. Te tamaiti demonstrates an expected range of behaviours associated with developing friendships, such as parallel play (where tamariki may play alongside each other but not necessarily with each other), group play and make-believe play with friends. An older tamaiti can name friends or playmates and the activities they do together.

5 — Te tamaiti has some ability and opportunity to develop friendships. Their parent or caregiver is helping them build their social networks and beginning to encourage play.

1 — Ability and opportunity to develop friendships is limited by social isolation or other factors, including developmental delay, autism, etc. Te tamaiti displays no interest in other tamariki or interacts in predominantly anti-social ways.

Age range

Over 5 year olds.

Includes intimate relationships.

Assessment prompts

  • Is te tamaiti or rangatahi well integrated into social groups at school and in out-of-home community activities?
  • How do they react to other tamariki or rangatahi? Is te tamaiti or rangatahi able to read social cues and understand the behaviour of other tamariki or rangatahi?
  • Have a number of moves and changes of schools meant that meeting new people are a constant in their lives and friendships are not able to be maintained?
  • Are they seeking out negative influences in order to ‘perform’ to a role that others expect so they fit in?
  • Be aware and ask about what is happening for te rangatahi on social media. Is social media having a negative impact on relationships and self-confidence. This is an important to understand for vulnerable rangatahi
  • Be aware of and ask and explore intimate relationships and consider the culture and identity domain.
  • If te rangatahi is in an intimate relationship, is the relationship a risk or a protective factor?
  • If you are unsure or uncomfortable seek supervision and advice.

Descriptors: peers/friends

10 — Relationships with peers/friends are strong and positive. Has a circle of friends who support positive pro-social behaviour. Is a strong positive role model in their group of friends/peers and may take a leadership role. Is developing or has developed respectful and healthy intimate relationships.

5 — Relationships are largely positive. Has some difficulty making friends or relating to others. May become aggressive or easily upset when stressed or in unfamiliar situations. Intimate relationships are problematic at times but generally te rangatahi is able to manage and work through issues with support.

1 — Lacks confidence and struggles to engage and communicate with peers. Is not invited to play or hang out with mates and does not invite others to play or hang out with them. Is being bullied or bullies others. Relationships are harmful, reinforce anti-social or offending behaviours, or are coercive. Peers truant from school, offend or associate with people who offend. May lead others into anti-social, risk taking or naughty behaviour. Intimate relationships are characterised by violence, disrespect, coercion, unsafe sex, dependency.