In every SKIP Whakatipu booklet there is a ‘Kaitiaki pēpi’ section that explores aspects of tikanga Māori and how it relates to this stage of child development.

The ‘Kaitiaki pēpi’ topics are listed in the ‘Supporting information’ section of this website. These topics reflect a Māori world view, but they may also be relevant to people of other cultures and ethnicities who share similar tikanga. They might also apply across a wider range of age groups.

Refer to earlier ‘Kaitiaki pēpi’ sections.

Respecting tamariki

Lots of growth and maturation occurs between the ages of 3 and 5, and our tamaiti can express their independence and individuality much more. It could be described as their developing sense of ‘mana motuhake’ (identity).

In Whakatipu booklet Te Māhuri 1 (page 2), we see this whakataukī:

‘He iti, he iti kahikātoa.’

‘Though little, it is still a mānuka tree.’

This can mean that although the tree is small, its wood is strong and resilient. Likewise, a small child has many strengths and deserves respect and admiration.

This is one of many whakataukī that honour the child, emphasise the importance of early childhood and demand our respect for young children.

Nurturing taonga

Whakatipu booklet Te Māhuri 2 begins with this whakataukī:

‘Nau i whatu te kākahu, he tāniko taku.’

‘You weave the cloak and I the border.’

This whakataukī relates to the nature/nurture concept. The genetics (nature) of a child is the cloak, and the ornamental border (nurture) is the influence the environment has on them.

This proverb is a reminder about the responsibility parents and whānau have in shaping the character of their tamariki.

This message aligns with many others conveyed through traditional whakataukī that highlight the importance of the nurture and care of mokopuna.

They are important taonga — not only to their parents and whānau, but also to the wider hapū and iwi.

Nurturing independence

The pakiwaitara in Te Māhuri 1 (page 24) is about te whānau tuatahi — Ranginui and Papatūānuku, and their tamariki. Held securely between their parents, the children were treasured and lovingly cared for. However, the time came when the children needed more space, and some of them wanted to explore beyond the safety of their parents’ arms.

This legend reminds us of how important early nurturing is for children not only to feel safe, but also to have the confidence to explore and learn about the world around them.

It highlights that every child is unique and has different qualities and temperaments, and that at times there will be rivalry between siblings.

Nurturing skill and learning

The pakiwaitara in Te Māhuri 2 is about Tāne-mahuta and his search for the 3 kete of knowledge. Tāne ignores the protest from Whiro that he as tuakana should be the one to make the journey in search of the baskets of knowledge.

But keen for exploration, the adventurous Tāne endures the demanding journey to the summit of all the heavens and successfully returns with ngā kete e toru. From then on he is known as Tāne-te-wānanga-ā-rangi — Tāne, bringer of knowledge from the sky.

This legend reminds us of the variety of skills and knowledge that make up our world. It affirms the value of learning and gaining understanding about many different areas in life. And it highlights that to master skills or develop knowledge takes effort and persistence.

Further information

  • As per 25-36 months
  • M. L. Herbert: Whānau whakapakari — A Māori-centred approach to child rearing and parent-training programmes. PhD thesis, University of Waikato, Hamilton (2001).
  • Flax bush: whakataukī and information about the symbolism of harakeke and the whānau.  How Māui brought fire to the world: an extended version of the Māui and Mahuika legend.
  • Hutia te rito: He waiata

Other related external links