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Page URL: https://practice.orangatamariki.govt.nz/core-practice/working-with-maori/how-to-work-effectively-with-maori/practice-for-working-effectively-with-maori/
Printed: 19/05/2024
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Last updated: 22/11/2019

Practice for working effectively with Māori

We must work effectively with Māori and learn about mana tamaiti, whakapapa and whanaungatanga so we can respect these concepts in our practice.

Upcoming changes for this guidance

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 guidance. The following resources provide support:
Practice for working effectively with Māori
Our practice approach

Improving outcomes for tamariki Māori

Section 7AA of the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989 outlines the duties of the Oranga Tamariki chief executive in relation to te Tiriti o Waitangi (the Treaty of Waitangi). This includes having regard to mana tamaiti, whakapapa and whanaungatanga.

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

Definitions of mana tamaiti (tamariki), whakapapa and whanaungatanga

These concepts have broad and varied interpretation for Māori across the country. However there are common understandings which are provided in section 2 (Interpretation) of the Act as follows which assist to understand practices that apply these Te Ao Māori principles.

Mana tamaiti (tamariki)

Means the intrinsic value and inherent dignity derived from the whakapapa (genealogy) of a tamaiti or rangatahi and their belonging to a whānau, hapū, iwi or family group, in accordance with tikanga Māori or its equivalent in the culture of te tamaiti or rangatahi.


In relation to a person, means the multi-generational kinship relationships that help to describe who the person is in terms of their matua (parents), and tūpuna (ancestors), from whom they descend.


In relation to a person, means:

(a) the purposeful carrying out of responsibilities based on obligations to whakapapa

(b) the kinship that provides the foundations for reciprocal obligations and responsibilities to be met

(c) the wider kinship ties that need to be protected and maintained to ensure the maintenance and protection of their sense of belonging, identity and connection.

Having regard to mana tamaiti, whakapapa and whanaungatanga

This means that in the development of policies, practices and services Oranga Tamariki will aim to meet these objectives and that is particularly relevant for those closest to and implementing our service delivery and practice:

  1. Ensure the participation of tamariki, whānau, hapū and iwi in decisions affecting them at the earliest opportunity to enhance their wellbeing and safety.
  2. Support, strengthen and assist whānau Māori to care for their tamaiti or tamariki to prevent the need for their removal from home into care or a Youth Justice response.
  3. If removal from home is necessary, Oranga Tamariki will preference placements for tamariki Māori (including their siblings) with members of their wider whānau, hapū, iwi or family group who are able to meet their needs, including for a safe, stable, and loving home.
  4. Support tamariki Māori in the custody of the chief executive to establish, maintain or strengthen their sense of belonging through cultural identity and connections to whānau, hapū and iwi.
  5. Support, strengthen and assist tamariki Māori and their whānau to prepare for their return home or transition into the community.

Mana tamaiti objectives in practice

The following guidance provides some practice examples for working with Māori that when applied will contribute to achieving each of the 5 mana tamaiti objectives. This guidance is not a full detailed list and should be used alongside other guidance that outline specific processes on the Practice Centre.

It focuses on deepening practice understanding, activities and behaviours to implement into your work with tamariki and whānau Māori (those actions that are culturally specific to Māori).

The use of Māori models of practice and Oranga Tamariki tools for working with Māori will enhance your knowledge and skills to practice effectively and confidently with Māori. These include: Te Toka Tūmoana, our Māori cultural framework, Te Kete Ararau, the whakamana te tamaiti practice standard and the Māori-specific practice guidance for whānau searching, whakapapa research, hui ā-whānau and kairaranga ā-whānau.