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Māia: A Model of Practice for Te Ora Hou



The emerging Te Ora Hou Model of Practice is known as MĀIA. It is adapted from two independent conceptual frameworks for understanding indigenous people’s health and development.

The Circle of Courage is attributed to Lakota Sioux traditions of the Medicine Wheel that has four key factors that are present for healthy transition of young people from childhood to adulthood: Belonging; Mastery; Independence and Generosity.

Professor Mason Durie’s Whānau Capacity framework suggests six factors of a healthy whānau: Manaakitanga; Whakatakato Tikanga; Whakamana; Whakawhanaungatanga; Whakamau Tikanga and Pupuri Taonga.

These two models have been combined to provide a more comprehensive framework for rangatahi Māori.


Web Maia

The Circle of Courage

The Circle of Courage is a model of positive youth development first described in the book Reclaiming Youth at Risk, co-authored by Larry Brendtro, Martin Brokenleg, and Steve Van Bockern. The model integrates Native American philosophies of child-rearing, the heritage of early pioneers in education and youth work, and contemporary resilience research. The Circle of Courage is based in four universal growth needs of all children: belonging, mastery, independence, and generosity.

Te Ora Hou and other organisations in Aotearoa have adapted these four foundations using concepts from Te Ao Māori.

Whānau (Identity, Belonging & Connection)
Rangatahi can say “I am loved, accepted and belong..”

A sense of belonging is based on perceived similarities or commonalities within a group, the most significant groups to which one belongs are the smallest. Cultural, gender, class and age identities are important.

Pukengatanga (Mastery, Giftedness & Competence)
Rangatahi can say “I can succeed..”

A sense of achievement, a perception one is making progress in learning important and useful skills.

Mana Motuhake (Maturity, Independence & Responsibility)
Rangatahi can say “I have the power to make decisions..”

A sense of self and accepting responsibility for making decisions and taking action. Knowledge that there are important things one can do regardless of the actions of others.

Atawhai (Generosity, Service & Contribution)
Rangatahi can say “I have a purpose for my life..”

A sense of making a meaningful contribution to the world around us. Being generous in spirit, the ability to endure slights or offences without retaliation, developing empathy and a forgiving spirit. Caring for the natural environment and living a sustainable lifestyle.



Whānau Capacity

While the MĀIA / Circle of Courage framework is useful for assessing individual development and wellbeing, measures of wellbeing for groups require different approaches. Professor Mason Durie suggests a way to measure the wellbeing of whānau for example is to assess the collective capacity to perform tasks that are within the scope and influence of whānau.

Six primary capacities have been identified: the capacity to care; the capacity for guardianship; the capacity to empower; the capacity for long term planning, the capacity to endorse Māori culture, knowledge and values, and the capacity for consensus:

The capacity to care, manaakitanga, is a critical role for whānau especially in respect of children and older members. Care also entails the promotion of lifestyles that are consistent with tikanga Māori, maximum well-being, mobility and independence, full participation in society, and reciprocated care for other whānau members. The best outcome is one where whānau members have a strong sense of identity, feel well cared for, are able to enjoy quality lifestyles with a sense of independence, yet remain concerned about the wellbeing of other whānau members.

The capacity for guardianship, pupuri taonga, expects whānau to act as wise trustees for the whānau estate . whenua tüpuna (customary land), heritage sites such as fishing spots, environmental sites of special whānau significance, urupa and wāhi tapu. A desirable outcome is one where whānau assets increase in value and whānau members are actively involved in decision-making about the estate.

The capacity to empower, whakamana, is a whānau function that facilitates the entry of members of the whānau into the wider community, as individuals and as Māori. The whānau might be the gateway into the marae, or into sport, or to school, or to work. A good outcome is one where whānau members can participate fully, as Māori, in te ao Māori (the Māori world) and te ao whānui (wider society), and whānau are well represented in community endeavours.

The capacity to plan ahead, whakatakato tikanga, requires a capacity to anticipate the needs of future generations and to manage whānau resources (human and physical) so that those needs may be met. A good outcome will be one where systems are in place to protect the interests of future generations and whānau have agreed-upon broad strategies for further whānau development.

The capacity to promote culture, whakapümau tikanga, is a further whānau function. It depends on the capacity to transmit language, cultural values, narratives, song, music and history. A good outcome is one where whānau members have access to the cultural heritage of the whānau, are both fluent in te reo Māori, knowledgeable about whānau heritage, and actively support the whānau as the major agent of cultural transmission.

The capacity for consensus, whakawhānaungatanga, reflects the need for whānau to develop decision-making processes where consensus is possible and collective action strengthened. In order to reach consensus there must be opportunities for contributions to a shared vision and processes that enable whānau to take decisions in a way that is fair and consistent with tikanga. Strong interconnectedness within the whānau and better overall results is a desired outcome of consensual capacity.

The whānau capacity model emphasises progressive advancement rather than the management of adversity and the focus is on functional capacities. For each capacity it is possible to identify goals and indicators. For example, the capacity for guardianship can be measured by increases in the duration, frequency and intensity of whānau time helping out at marae working bees, while the capacity to plan ahead might be measured by the establishment of an education plan for future generations.

Te Ora Hou kaimahi have developed a Whānau Capacity Self-Assessment Tool based on the Whānau Capacity model developed by Professor Durie.

Contact us for more information.