Te Whakapūmautia te mana: Enhancing Mana Through Kaitiakitanga

Funding year: 
2 years
University of Waikato
ECE sector
Project start date: 
January 2020
Project end date: 
March 2022
Principal investigator(s): 
Dr. Lesley Rameka
Research team members: 
Lesley Rameka (The University of Waikato), Vanessa Paki (Te Rito Maioha), Brenda Soutar (Tautāwhi Ltd).
Research partners: 
Te Puna Reo o Te Kōhao, Hamilton; Te Puna Reo o Pukahinahina, Tauranga; Te Puna Reo o Raparapaririki, Ruatoria; Turangi Kindergarten, Turangi; Hazelmere Kindergarten, Te Awamutu; and West End Kindergarten, Palmerston North.



Introduction/project description

The premise of this kaupapa Māori project is that wellbeing for Māori entails the recognition of mana (prestige, status, influence) and the actioning of mana, through kaitiakitanga (caring, sharing and guardianship), more specifically, the responsibilities associated with nurturing mana enhancing relationships. We argue kaiako often lack understandings and experience of Māori culture and values,  including ideas around wellbeing, mana and kaitiakitanga, therefore are unable to deliver on expectations of Māori whanau and communities. This project will inform current and future practice by addressing this gap in kaiako pedagogical knowledge and expertise, thus supporting kaiako to better meet the needs of mokopuna Māori.


In this project, we aim to explore ways that ECE accords mokopuna opportunities to recognise mana and understand ways to accrue and attain mana through being kaitiaki (guardians) of themselves, others and their environment, thereby contributing to a collective sense of wellbeing. The centrality of mana and kaitiakitanga to wellbeing will be made evident through developing theoretical and pedagogical knowledge, with associated strategies and exemplars of teaching practice. In this way the research will provide kaiako with evidence-based understandings through the sharing of knowledge and understandings of Te Ao Māori, and associated tikanga, attitudes, skills, values and behaviours derived from concepts of mana and kaitiakitanga. 

Research questions

  1. In what ways can/do mokopuna in ECE services enact mana and kaitiakitanga?
  2. What does the enactment of mana and kaitiakitanga look like for mokopuna, and for kaiako in ECE?
  3. What are the people, tools/artefacts, processes and practices that contribute to enhancing mana and kaitiakitanga for mokopuna?

Why is this research important?

Wellbeing is fundamental to an individual’s ability to function and live well (Cram, 2014).  Māori continue to lag behind other groups in educational achievement, with disproportionately lower results on national averages for National Standards (Houghton, 2015). A recent UNICEF Innocenti Report Card (2018) ranked NZ 33rd of 38 OECD countries for educational inequality across preschool, primary school and secondary schools. It also stated that NZ had one of the most unequal education systems in the world.  We argue that kaiako must address the ways that kaiako meet the needs of mokopuna Māori in order to support Māori educational success and wellbeing. 

Cram, F. (2014). Measuring Māori wellbeing: A commentary. MAI Journal, 3(1). http://www.journal.mai.ac.nz/journal/mai-journal-2014-volume-3-issue-1

Houghton, C. (2015). Underachievement of Māori and Pasifika learners and culturally responsive assessment. Journal of Initial Teacher Inquiry, 1. ir.canterbury.ac.nz/handle/10092/11437

UNICEF's Annual Innocenti Report Card. (2018). http://innocenti.unicef.org.nz/

What we plan to do

The research will involve four phases.

  1. Kohikohinga Pūrākau (2020): collect narratives, from kaumatua and Māori educational leaders, on mana and kaitiakitanga. Pūrākau analysed and understandings shared with kaiako in second phase.
  2. Taunaki Puna Reo (2020): work with kaiako/whānau to develop and record pedagogical understandings and practice of mana and kaitiakitanga in Māori medium services.
  3. Taunaki Auraki (2021): share learnings from previous phases with kindergartens. Develop and record pedagogical understandings and practices of mana and kaitiakitanga in English medium services.
  4. Whanaketanga Ariā (2021): analysis of data from all phases of the research.

Data will include: pūrākau; videos, audio or notes of mokopuna participating in and/or discussing understandings, and perspectives of activities; mokopuna art; kaiako perspectives, understandings and interpretations; and kaiako documentation - meeting minutes, assessments, planning and evaluation documentation. Ngā Taumata Whakahirahira, the Strands of Te Whāriki, mana atua, mana tangata, mana whenua, mana reo, and mana aoturoa, will be utilised to analyse data.

Our partners

Our partnership model is based on whānau, involving commitments, responsibilities, trust and obligations of whānau members over time. Our partners:

  • Te Puna Reo o Te Kōhao, Hamilton
  • Te Puna Reo o Pukahinahina, Tauranga
  • Te Puna Reo o Raparapaririki, Ruatoria
  • Turangi Kindergarten, Turangi
  • Hazelmere Kindergarten, Te Awamutu
  • West End Kindergarten, Palmerston North

Contact details

Name: Dr Lesley Rameka
Email: lesley.rameka@waikato.ac.nz