Relationships, people, and connections are central to Māori wellbeing.

Whanaungatanga, in particular, is a foundational value for Māori, created through forming, sharing, and maintaining close ties with people and communities. Working together to embody the principles of whanaungatanga provides the basis and framework for a sense of belonging and unity – an integral part of any child’s development.

For tamariki Māori who have been severed from vital networks of kinship and community, whanaungatanga may not be a value that is present in their life. This may be due to a lack of cultural awareness and education, or simply a lack of visual embodiment in their environment. Without it, prosperous communities simply feel out of reach, creating a dangerous cycle of disconnection and loneliness.

No matter the cultural heritage of rangatahi, in order to thrive, they need to feel as though they are part of a collective. People need to know they have a place where they belong and that they have strong connections with those they consider whānau. This doesn’t have to be whānau that is directly related to their whakapapa, but those who feel like kin due to shared experiences.

When tamariki Māori are deprived of whanaungatanga, this significantly affects their views behaviours, and development. Most particularly, it influences the relationship they have with their cultural heritage. Whanaungatanga equips tamariki and rangatahi with the valuable skills needed not just to survive, but to thrive. After all, the more connected people are in their communities, the safer whānau and individuals feel, and the more people flourish.

If that doesn’t happen? The opposite will.

Whanaungatanga is a foundational value in Māori culture. With relationships, people, and connections central to Māori wellbeing. Without it, tamariki and rangatahi can fall into a cycle of disconnection, disillusion, antipathy, and loneliness.

In order for tamariki to enter into adulthood feeling loved, supported, and empowered, whanaungatanga needs to be integrated into their lives.

The future of our tamariki depends on it.