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

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

For tamariki Māori whose ties have been severed from these vital networks of kinship and community, whanaungatanga may not be a value that is present in their life, either from a lack of cultural awareness and education, or simply a lack of visual embodiment  in their environment. Without it, the sense of community connection that provides information and communication, that builds and maintains social networks which contribute to vibrant and prosperous communities is simply out of reach, creating a dangerous cycle of disconnection and loneliness.

In order for any rangatahi to thrive, no matter what their cultural heritage, they need to feel as though they are part of a collective; that they have a place they belong, and 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 in particular are deprived of whanaungatanga, this has a significant impact not only on their cultural heritage, but also on how they think, act, and develop. 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 and 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 as loved, supported, empowered and self-sufficient individuals, it is vital that whanaungatanga is integrated into their lives.

The future of our tamariki depends on it.