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Page URL: https://practice.orangatamariki.govt.nz/practice-approach/our-practice-approach/te-ao-maori-principles-of-oranga/
Printed: 26/04/2024
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Last updated: 07/08/2023

Te Ao Māori principles of oranga

Te Ao Māori principles of oranga (wellbeing) are central to Oranga Tamariki social work practice.

Principles that are relational, inclusive and restorative

Principled practice is values-based, and Māori cultural values, beliefs and practices guide us to effectively work with tamariki Māori and their whānau, hapū, iwi and hāpori. By taking a starting point that preferences Māori worldviews and practices, we recognise the significance of the historical journey for Māori through assimilation and oppression towards survival, restoration, self-determination and emancipation. There is overwhelming evidence which shows that principled approaches, through Māori health frameworks and models, strengthens practice and advances understandings of the dynamics of Māori wellbeing and diversity within whānau, hapū and iwi (Ruwhiu, 1999; Durie, 2001; Ruwhiu et al, 2009; Pohatu, 2008; Eruera, 2015; Dobbs, 2015).

Because Te Ao Māori principles of oranga are relational, inclusive and restorative, they also have benefits for tauiwi tamariki and their families and family groups, and they help us understand the journey towards oranga for all tamariki and the whānau or family we work with.

Te Ao Māori principles of oranga come out of te reo Māori and are embedded in Māori oral histories. The phrase ‘Tihei mauri ora’ originates from the creation of the first woman, Hineahuone, when Tāne breathed life into her, and mauri ora is one of the most referenced Māori wellbeing principles.

There are currently 5 key sources to consider when discussing Te Ao Māori principled practice in the statutory child welfare environment of Aotearoa:

  1. the 3 overarching Te Ao Māori wellbeing principles in the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989
  2. the Oranga Tamariki Way that espouses 6 key values
  3. section 7AA of the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989, which reinforces other parts of the Act that reinforce Treaty obligations through legislation and advances quality assurance in development, design and review of initiatives to address child welfare
  4. the 5 overarching Te Ao Māori principles for action guiding the Oranga Tamariki Māori Cultural Framework
  5. Te Toka Tūmoana and its 8 Māori wellbeing principles guiding practice in working effectively with tamariki/mokopuna Māori and their whānau. 

Common to all 5 sources is acknowledging the centricity of ‘mana’ and its derivatives of manaakitanga, whakamānawa, mana tamaiti, mana motuhake, and mana whenua. When working in an environment of trauma (mana trampled on, tapū violated, mauri ora diminished and whakapapa disconnected), it is important to both qualify and quantify a journey towards oranga that often involves unravelling those elements of mana.

Paper – Te Ao Māori principles of oranga and application to social work practice (PDF 221 KB)

Te Ao Māori principles of oranga are a fundamental and influential part of all aspects of the Oranga Tamariki practice framework. This is clearly shown in ngākau whakairo – rights, values and professional obligations.

Practice framework

Video – Te Ao Māori principles