Category — Features



Author — Stone Soup

Whanaungatanga is about whakapapa, relationships, and connection to mana tangata, the strength of our whānau and our people; to mana whenua, the strength of the natural world; and to mana atua, the strength of the spiritual realm. It is about koha (giving), and it is always guided by aroha (love).

For me, whanaungatanga starts with whānau. Understanding my role in the family unit, how I can contribute to it, and how it contributes to me. Tanga means to be, so whanaungatanga is the practice of being whānau. But our whānau is not defined by blood. Those who practice whanaungatanga with us and share our values are our family. It’s collective, it takes a village to raise a child.

Mana tangata is about reciprocity, valuing each other and practicing whanaungatanga through koha. It’s whakamā to ask, it’s always best to give. It is never about money, and there is never an expectation from the person giving that they will receive. But it is disrespectful not to reciprocate, we must be generous and give mana back.

We practice whanaungatanga through kanohi kitea. Having a physical presence, face to face, eye to eye. You exhibit whanaungatanga through doing and being. It is whakapono – transparent, trustworthy. Kanohi kitea is the most important part of whanaungatanga.

Ko wai koe? Who are you? We connect to whakapapa through our pepeha. My maunga, my awa, my iwi, my whānau, my waka. Whakapapa defines our connection to each other, to the whenua and to the atua.

Mana whenua is our connection to papatūānuku. What you give to papatūānuku is whanaungatanga with the land. Not about taking, always about giving back. Our connection with mana whenua helps us to understand our capacity to engage with the environment.

Mana Atua is our connection to the divine. To creation. The separation of Ranginui, atua of the sky, and Papatūānuku, the land, our mother earth. Acknowledging our connection to them and how we look after and respect them. Our relationship with the spiritual connects us to Rongo-mā-Tāne, offspring of Ranginui and Papatūānuku, atua of the kūmara and cultivated food. The spiritual realm connects us to māra kai.

The guiding principle of whanaungatanga is aroha, and through it, we are kaitiaki (guardians). We enhance whanaungatanga through koha; by giving I show I value the spiritual realm, my ancestors and environment – I show I value you.

By Lionel Hotene (Ngāti Awa). Papatūānuku Kōkiri Marae. Illustration: Lilly Paris West