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Page URL: https://practice.orangatamariki.govt.nz/practice-approach/working-with-maori-te-toka-tumoana/
Printed: 18/07/2024
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Last updated: 01/04/2019

Working with Māori: Te Toka Tūmoana

The Te Toka Tūmoana framework is built on the integrity and distinctness of Māori beliefs and practices, to advance tamariki ora within the context of our work.

Upcoming changes to Te Toka Tūmoana

Te Toka Tūmoana is being developed and tested as a practice model that builds on the integrity and distinctness of Māori beliefs and practices to advance the oranga of tamariki/mokopuna.

What is Te Toka Tūmoana

Te Toka Tūmoana is our indigenous and bicultural principled framework. It describes the principles that guide practitioners, managers and leaders through all work with tamariki and whānau Māori.

  • Indigenous practice refers to how we strengthen tangata whenua (Māori) working with Māori — the practices Māori practitioners apply when working with Māori
  • Bicultural practice refers to Tauiwi (non-Māori) practitioners working with Māori.

Te Toka Tūmoana is a distinctive rocky reef formation protruding out of the ocean, often used as a marker to navigate safely into and out of a harbour.

When to use it

We must use Te Toka Tūmoana throughout our practice when working with tamariki and whānau Māori.

We must:

  • use Te Toka Tūmoana alongside existing practice standards and tools
  • evidence the application of Te Toka Tūmoana in case records.

Policy: Assessment

"I have supported te tamaiti to be proud of being Māori."

Practice standard: Whakamana te tamaiti: Practice empowering tamariki Māori

How to use the Te Toka Tūmoana framework

The Te Toka Tūmoana framework consists of three overarching principles and eight guiding principles for wellbeing.

Use the principles in conjunction with the practice standards, particularly whakamana te tamaiti, to guide your work with tamariki and whānau Māori.

Practice standard: Whakamana te tamaiti: Practice empowering tamariki Māori

1 Three overarching principles

Tiaki mokopuna

The roles, responsibilities and obligations to make safe, care for, support, develop and protect our children and young people from all forms of abuse.

Mana ahua ake o te mokopuna

The potential and absolute uniqueness (inherent and developed) of Māori children and young people. This principle underpins child-centred practice for tamariki Māori.

Te Ahureitanga

The distinctiveness of being Māori, reclaiming that Māori worldviews and practices are valid, legitimate, self-determining and diverse. Solutions must be founded on a Māori worldview of wellbeing that is transformed to be locally relevant, sustainable and self-determining.

2 Eight guiding principles for wellbeing


Create safe environments by championing the voices and aspirations of whānau using Māori cultural processes and practices.

In this context, tikanga means ways of engaging or doing described as 'customs, habits, methods and practices that are part of the acceptable conventional ways of engaging with each other'.

Practices include:

  • Processes and practice reflect tika, whākāpono (underpinning belief) and aroha (genuine empathy).
  • Awareness of when and how to use cultural processes and practices of engagement with tamariki, whānau, hapū and iwi.
  • Identify and practise transparently cultural rituals of engagement, preparation, planning and purpose.
  • Model the use of tikanga with tamariki Māori.

Te Reo Māori

Use Te Reo Māori throughout all your dealings in a respectful, brave and deliberate way.

Māori language is our lifeline to our culture. Central to engaging with Māori is the ability to use the Māori language appropriately and respectfully.

Practices include:

  • Actively using Te Reo Māori in all activities — spoken, written, visual and waiata. 
  • Actively using Te Reo Māori to promote tikanga practices in all activities.
  • Acknowledging and respecting different iwi dialects.
  • Supporting and encouraging the confidence to use Te Reo Māori. 
  • Advancing the use of 'significant' kupu Māori to grow common understandings — such as kaitiaki, tamariki, whānau, whakapāpā.


Support the empowerment of tamariki and whānau to reach their full potential.

Whakamanawa highlights words like encouragement, inspiring and instilling confidence to achieve and freedom. The concept is about supporting tamariki and whānau Māori, in their journey from states of oppression (all forms of abuse) to emancipation.

Practices include:

  • Strong advocacy of all issues that impact on Māori.
  • Valuing the potential of others. 
  • The participating of everyone in sharing the workload. 
  • Leading 'ora' conversations as the norm.
  • Skilful analysis to identify potential blocks and barriers.
  • Sharing good information is practised to help in decision-making.
  • Ensuring that there is robust, passionate, critical and respectful thinking.
  • Acting in mana-enhancing ways with each other.


Use Māori values, beliefs, theories, ideologies, paradigms, frameworks, perspectives, and worldviews to inform, validate and legitimate Māori cultural wellbeing processes and practices.

Wairuatanga provides a cultural critique of Māori ways of viewing and making sense of the world we live in.

Practices include:

  • Visually including in all projects with absolute clarity Māori values and beliefs.
  • Māori paradigms, metaphors and frameworks are evident in reporting and activating your substantive māhī.
  • Māori perspectives and worldviews are valued and used, right from the onset and throughout all stages of engagement: assessment, planning, implementation and review.
  • Valuing and engaging in diverse innovative critical Māori thinking to advance tamariki ora and whānau ora.


Create a working environment that values Māori participation in working with tamariki.

The concept of kaitiakitanga is about roles, responsibilities and obligations to protect, keep safe, support and sustain.

Practices include:

  • Accessing Māori support networks to nurture tamariki and support whānau wellbeing.
  • Evidence of Māori cultural processes to keep tamariki safe, protected and cared for.
  • A very clear awareness of wellbeing and wellness that drives practice in working with tamariki and whānau.


Display an active implementation of strong meaningful human connection, significant places of engagement and value relationships within the spiritual dimension.

Whakapapa acknowledges Māori world views where everything living and non-living is connected to, and with, each other. Often people translate this term to mean genealogy — the challenge for practitioners is to really look at the way that people connect not just to people, but also to places, to events, to activities, to significant values, ideologies and beliefs.

Practices include:

  • Facilitate enduring relationships with whānau, hapū and iwi.
  • Valuing and supporting the significance of whānau history.
  • Whānau traits are recognised and used to empower tamariki.
  • Building relationships for tamariki.
  • Valuing and strengthening of connections with others. 
  • Working in significant sites of engagement, such as marae.
  • Respecting the integrity of healthy whānau relationships.

Our responsibilities provide significant roles of influence.


Identify and enact roles, responsibilities and obligations to care for and strengthen the mana of tamariki and whānau.

Manaakitanga is about caring for and giving service to enhance the potential of others. The emphasis is on understanding that as you display acts of support, care, hospitality and protection to others, reciprocity comes in the form of collaborative mutually beneficial human interactive engagements.

Practices include:

  • Genuine care of the holistic wellbeing of tamariki.
  • Recognising and promoting the strengths of tamariki and whānau to reach their full potential. 
  • Ensuring that engagement is a two-way mana-enhancing process. 
  • Working collaboratively with others and sharing of resources to promote tamariki ora.
  • Navigating tamariki through the social work process with their mana intact.
  • The simple act of sharing.


Strengthen Māori self-determination by building whānau leadership and capability.

Practitioners in the statutory environment need to be aware and respectful of various levels and variety of leadership from the highest spheres (iwi leadership) to those inherent in whānau and hapū. Leadership can be evidenced by being at the front, leading from behind, working with others collaboratively or being a figurehead. Part of the process of identifying who are the leaders within a whānau often involves understanding the influence they have in evolving wellbeing of tamariki and whānau Māori.

Practices include:

  • Encouraging whānau to take an active role in determining the wellbeing outcomes. 
  • Enabling whānau to participate fully. 
  • Tamariki whānau leadership is nurtured, developed and promoted. 
  • Recognising that safe whānau members are experts of their own tamariki. 
  • Ensuring that the views of tamariki are informing our response. 
  • Strengthening the emphasis on tamariki participation and leadership.

I have facilitated and strengthened the connection of te tamaiti to their whakapapa (significant people, places, cultural values).

Practice standard: Whakamana te tamaiti: Practice empowering tamariki Māori

I have spoken with te tamaiti and facilitated relevant use of te reo Māori me ona tikanga (cultural practices) to support respectful engagement and meaningful relationship building with them and their whānau networks.

Practice standard: Whakamana te tamaiti: Practice empowering tamariki Māori

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