Tūpuna Parenting

We know how tūpuna Māori Parented

Kaa Whānau with Panikena Kaa at centre

Our Mātauranga


Central to our mahi. Grounded in our whānau knowledge and ways of knowing our whānau, hapū and iwi.

Pūrākau (oral Histories)

Not just referring to atua pūrākau (oral histories) from the spirit world), but also from our whakapapa.

Waiata Oriori (Traditional lullabies), Whakatauki, Early explorer accounts

We know about tūpuna parenting from various sources, all brought together to share with you.

Two Pou of Tūpuna Parenting

Born Tapu

Our tūpuna believed pēpi were from the atua (spirit world), so were born tapu. But what does tapu really mean?

Born with Mana

Pēpi are born with mana, which some people find surprising, but it's true! Mana has layers, but what are they?

What is Tapu?

Tapu is commonly called sacred, but that’s not quite right. It also means ‘protected‘, ‘set apart‘ and ‘untouchable‘.
Don’t climb that maunga (mountain), don’t swim in that river, it’s tapu!
But… it’s also an inherited quality of all people. A quality that demands respect.
Tupuna Nanny with moko cuddling

Do pēpi ever stop being tapu?

Kao, they stay tapu, sacred and protected, for their whole lives.

Just like you.

Whānau Stories - Tapu

Everyone's stories contain powerful lessons from our tūpuna
Two tamariki in front of their marae

What is Mana?

Mana is often translated as prestige, authority, status, spiritual power and charisma. It goes hand in hand with tapu. If something is more tapu, it has more mana.


But there are layers to mana. It’s not just something you earn with age and contributions to your community.


You inherit mana, from the atua (spirit world) and from your tūpuna.

How did our tūpuna respect their whānau?

Our tūpuna showed pēpi and tamariki respect in many ways. Listening to their voice, and responding to their requests, was a key one.

Acknowledging mana

Our tūpuna respected pēpi and tamariki from birth, acknowledging their mana by respecting them like we would any adult.

Respecting our pēpi

Means meeting their needs and helping them to stop crying - their cries are their voice, and it was embarrassing for tūpuna if pēpi cried.

Respecting tamariki

Means listening to them, responding to them, never dismissing them. Our tūpuna gave tamariki a voice in the whānau, and so should we.

Tupuna Koro cuddling moko

"He tangi to te tamariki, he whakamā to te pakeke"

"The cry of the child is the shame of the adult."

This whakatauki means that it was embarrassing for our tūpuna if pēpi cried for any reason.

Respecting pēpi and tamariki starts with meeting their needs and responding to their voice.

So our tūpuna did what was needed to help them stop crying.

Early Explorers

Early explorers saw tūpuna parenting ways and how they treated their pēpi and tamariki.

Our Tūpuna Didn't Smack

The colonials taught Māori to do that

> We know Māori were great Warriors

> These warriors were raised gently, without smacking

> And they raised their tamariki gently too

> That's a key part of tūpuna parenting

Tūpuna tāne warrior with tamariki including pepi

"Tā te tamariki tana nei mahi wawāhi tahā"

"It is the job of the children to smash the calabash"

Tupuna Koro with broken calabash and moko
This whakatauki is saying that tamariki will make mistakes, break rules and be ‘naughty’ – that’s their job as kids!
Our tūpuna understood that about tamariki, so didn’t get angry at them for any of it.
Our tūpuna didn’t smack their kids, or yell at them in anger. They explained what they did wrong, and what to do next time.

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