Identity and belonging are fundamental for all children and young people to thrive. For mokopuna Māori, being supported to have a positive connection to their identity is critical to their wellbeing. Whakapapa is fundamental to Māori culture, connection and belonging.
The Mana Mokopuna approach is based on an explicit expectation that, for mokopuna Māori, Oranga Tamariki and its contracted providers will enable and support positive connections with their whakapapa. The equivalent experiences are also expected for non-Māori children, in relation to their genealogy and cultural identity, in the context of their immediate and wider family.
Our aim with Mana Mokopuna, is to provide the insights that organisations need to develop and deliver a child-centred service for all children and young people, and to continuously improve that service.
Mana Mokopuna has changed our practice
With the introduction of Mana Mokopuna, we have strengthened our monitoring practice to focus on the experiences of children and young people in relation to the services they receive from Oranga Tamariki. This means that even if Oranga Tamariki is exceeding policy or practice requirements, unless this translates into good experiences for children and young people, the organisation will most likely rate poorly. This shift challenges Oranga Tamariki to be more child-centred and strongly focussed on outcomes for the children and young people it supports.
Mana Mokopuna has also resulted in the strengthening of our practice as required by Article 12 of United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (the Children’s Convention). This convention gives children the right to have their views taken into account in all matters affecting them.
Putting children and young people’s experiences at the centre of our monitoring practice has led to the development of tools and processes that strengthen our engagement with children and young people and those who support them. Our use of Mana Mokopuna has also strengthened our commitment to ensuring that the views of children and young people are listened to, and where appropriate, acted on.
Figure 2 shows how we use Mana Mokopuna to prioritise the experiences of children and young people. It also shows how the organisational performance areas from our previous monitoring framework, inform our enquiries and subsequent ratings.
Mana Mokopuna is embedded in the concept of mana. Dr Rose Pere describes ‘mana’ as meaning, ‘respect, acquired knowledge, control, intrinsic value, dignity and influence.’ Hirini Moko Mead states that all children and young people are born with mana because their whakapapa can be traced back to the Atua (the Gods). An important aspect of mana is that it can never be taken away - it is part of a person’s whakapapa. To improve outcomes for children and young people, we need to understand the foundations that contribute to upholding their mana.
The meaning of mokopuna
The word ‘mokopuna’ comes from two words - moko - (tattoo or blueprint) and puna - spring (of water). This recognises that children are the blueprint of their ancestors. Mana Mokopuna acknowledges that children and young people are unique individuals who also exist within the context of their family, whānau, hapū, iwi and wider family groups.
The six principles
We have identified six principles that support children and young people to reach their potential.
The principles of Mana Mokopuna could be seen as representing a child’s journey through life:
- Whakapapa recognises that all children have whakapapa – bloodlines as well as a history of people, places and stories – before they are born
- Whanaungatanga recognises that all children are born into relationships as part of their family, whānau, hapū, iwi and wider family groups
- Aroha recognises that all children have the need to love and be loved
- Kaitiakitanga recognises that children’s wellbeing is supported by safe and healthy environments
- Rangatiratanga recognises that all children have the right to have their views listened to, and where appropriate, acted on, and to be supported to be leaders in their own lives
- Mātauranga recognises that all children need opportunities to learn about the world, their culture and the culture of tangata whenua.
To enable the enhancement of children’s and young people’s mana, and for them to be happy, self-sufficient and to reach their potential, all six principles need to be supported.
Full descriptions of the Mana Mokopuna principles are provided below.
Definitions of the six principles
Table 1 contains the meaning of each Mana Mokopuna principle. These were developed over 18 months through a series of hui and wānanga, involving kaimahi Māori from Oranga Tamariki, Barnardos NZ, Kōkiri Marae, Tui-Kereru Ltd and OCC. They were also informed by interviews with children and young people undertaken as part of our regular monitoring.
How Mana Mokopuna was developed
We developed Mana Mokopuna in two stages.
Stage One focussed on understanding the concept of mana and development of the principles. We drew primarily from literature and interviews with mokopuna Māori. Mana Mokopuna was also influenced by Te Toka Tumoana – the bi-cultural practice framework developed by Oranga Tamariki.
Stage Two focussed on the desired experiences for children and young people. The definitions and descriptions were developed from quotes and insights from interviews with children and young people, hui and wānanga with kaimahi Māori from Oranga Tamariki, Kokiri Marae, Tui-Kereru Ltd, Timotimo Education, Barnardos NZ and OCC.
For further details about how we developed Mana Mokopuna download our PDF
 Pere, Dr Rangimarie Turuki (1997), Te Wheke - A Celebration of Infinite Wisdom. Ao Ako Global Learning NZ Ltd, Wellington, New Zealand.
 Mead, Hirini Moko (2003), Tikanga Māori - Living by Māori Values. Huia Publishers, Wellington, New Zealand.