‘Ahakoa he iti, he pounamu. Although small, it is precious — like greenstone.’
This whakataukī relates to the beginning of a tiny new life, how precious it is, and how it relies on its parents to keep it safe and secure.
This section, ‘Kaitiaki pēpi’, explores aspects of traditional Māori parenting practices, with a focus on hapūtanga (pregnancy). However, these customs can also be adapted to the child throughout their development.
While the topics relate to a Māori worldview, they may also be relevant to other cultural practices and ethnicities who share similar tikanga (customs).
This section isn’t comprehensive, but links to the ‘Kaitiaki pēpi’ sections in the SKIP Whakatipu booklets. These include whakataukī, pakiwaitara (legends) and waiata kōhungahunga (songs for children).
The supporting information gives more background on topics, while the session notes offer ideas for introducing the topics to whānau.
Where to begin?
We understand that people accessing this resource (and the whānau that you may be working with) will come from a wide range of different backgrounds and experiences. Identity, connection to Māori culture, and knowledge of tikanga and te reo Māori varies greatly from person to person.
So, take your cue from each whānau to guide you on where to begin your conversations with them.
We’ve provided links to additional information so that you and the whānau can find out more about the topics.
Exploring this information will help to reinforce the concepts and will increase your knowledge and understanding.
- Āhuru Mōwai [PDF, 460 KB] — Early childhood development (August 1999) ISBN 0-478-00626-8
- A. M. L. Herbert (2001): Whānau whakapakari (external link) — A Māori-centred approach to child rearing and parent-training programmes. PhD thesis, The University of Waikato, Hamilton.
- E Tu Whānau (external link) - A movement for positive change developed by Māori, for Māori. Take responsibility and action in your community and support whānau to thrive.
- Joan Metge (1995): New growth from old — The whānau in the modern world, Victoria University Press, Wellington. This book provides basic information for the many Pākehā who interact with Māori as spouses, friends, work colleagues and service providers, and to help them understand a family type different from their own.
- Mana Ririki website (external link) -Violence-free whānau: inspiring change for tamariki.
- Kuni Jenkins and Helen Mountain Harte (2011): Traditional Māori parenting (external link) —A historical review of literature of traditional Māori child rearing practices in pre-European times, Te Kahui Mana Ririki, Auckland
- Te Wheke Kamaatu (external link) - The Octopus of Great Wisdom by Dr Rangimarie Turuki Rose Pere
- Māui and his first journey (external link) Listen to the online version on the SKIP Whakatipu website or download the app: (external link) (external link)
- Tatai Korero: Whakapapa - (external link) Māori whānau share their views and experiences of parenting. In this episode whānau talk about the value for mokopuna of knowing their whakapapa — who they are and where they belong, and the sense of connectedness it brings them.
- Te Ara: Story — Ngā mātua: Māori parenting (external link)
- Waka Huia (TVNZ 2011): Part 1 of 2 — Oriori (external link) - This documentary examines the extensive research undertaken by respected kaumātua the late Amster Reedy on traditional Māori oriori (lullabies). It includes how to use them as a framework for strengthening whānau and raising our tamariki.
- Wharehuia Hemara (2000): Māori pedagogies (external link) — A view from the literature, NZCER