Manaakitanga

“enhance the mana of those around you”

By Carrie Stoddart-Smith @Ellipsister
(Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Tautahi, Ngāti Rehia)

We express manaakitanga when we care for the wellbeing of others. Sometimes we’ll do this intuitively, other times we’ll make a conscious effort to ensure our behaviour towards others demonstrates we value their existence as equally or more important than our own. For Māori, manaakitanga is one of our most important and aspirational tikanga (customs). However, there is no expectation that an individual will master it and we can’t expect that it will be reciprocated.

The general principle of manaakitanga is that when we are hosting guests, no matter how they behave, our role as the host is to enhance the mana of those around us. The rationale is that by rising above unpleasant behaviour or attitudes and giving aroha without expectation, then in the process we also enhance our own mana.

Putting it in a more relevant context for urban dwellers, consider your expectations when you go to a restaurant. You will likely expect a certain level of food safety, quality, and service. If your experience is characterised by poor food and service you are unlikely to eat there again. You’re also very likely to vent your dissatisfaction to your friends and family and the restaurants reputation will inevitably take a hit. But when you are treated to fabulous food and service you’re more likely to endorse the restaurant, and probably eat there again giving the restaurants reputation a sweet little boost.

The take away is that practicing manaakitanga – providing exceptional hospitality without expectation – contributes to relationships of mutual respect. Why? Because when we don’t pass judgment and offer aroha no matter how testing that might be, we demonstrate to others that we respect them and value them as equals, thereby promoting a respectful and empathetic society.

He taonga rongonui te aroha ki te tangata
(Goodwill towards others is a precious treasure)