This ‘Kaitiaki pēpi’ section explores aspects of traditional Māori parenting practices. It focuses on the Whakatipu booklet Te Kōhuri 1,which covers the ages from 19–24 months. However, these customs may also be applicable 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 that share similar tikanga.

This section isn’t comprehensive, but links to the ‘Kaitiaki pēpi’ sections in the SKIP Whakatipu booklets. These include whakataukī, pakiwaitara, and waiata kōhungahunga.

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 they may be working with) will come from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences. Identity, connection to Māori culture, and knowledge of tikanga and te reo Māori varies greatly from person to person.

Take your cue from each whānau on where to begin your conversations with them.

‘Mā te tuakana ka tōtika te teina, mā te teina ka tōtika te tuakana — From the older sibling the younger one learns the right way to do things, and from the younger sibling the older one learns to be tolerant.’

This stage, from 19–24 months, is a time when the tamaiti is becoming more sociable and making advances in talking.Notes

 This stage, from 19–24 months, is a time when the tamaiti is becoming more sociable and making advances in talking. They are becoming more independent and whānau can help by guiding that independence in positive ways. Their tamaiti will be relating more to other members of the whānau, especially older siblings (their tuakana) as they engage in play and activities alongside each other. If another child has been born into the family, they may also find themselves tuakana to a younger pēpi.

‘He kākano au i ruia mai i Rangiātea — I am a seed sown back in Rangiātea.’

This whakataukī reminds us that we belong to a long line of people. The survival of our whānau, hapū, and iwi has resulted in our being around today.

This small child, the ‘seed’, comes with inherited potential to grow and develop and, with the right conditions, will flourish.

It’s a reminder to parents and whānau of their responsibility to establish a safe and secure plot for their kākano to blossom. It will require lots of their time, energy, patience and care, but the rewards of seeing their children grow and develop are well worth it.

We’ve provided links to additional information so you and the whānau can find out more about the topics.

Exploring this information will help to reinforce the concepts and may increase your knowledge and understanding.

 Other related external links 

A. M. L. Herbert (2001): Whānau whakapakari — A Māori-centred approach to child rearing and parent-training programmes. PhD thesis, University of Waikato, Hamilton.

Dr Rangimarie Turuki Rose Pere: Te wheke kamaatu — The octopus of great wisdom

E Tū Whānau - 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 that is different from their own.

Kuni Jenkins and Helen Mountain Harte (2011): Traditional Māori parenting — An historical review of literature of traditional Māori child rearing practices in pre-European times. Te Kāhui Mana Ririki, Auckland.

Mana Ririki - Violence-free whānau: inspiring change for tamariki.

Ngā mātua — Māori parenting

Online Māori dictionary

SKIP Whakatipu website  Māui and his first journey - Listen to the online version

or Download the app

Tātai Kōrero: Whakapapa (te reo) - 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 gives them.

Wharehuia Hemara (2000): Māori pedagogies — A view from the literature. NZCER, Wellington.