Whanaungatanga, Manakitanga, Rangatiratanga, Kotahitanga, Wairuatanga – a discussion

In a book on (and titled) violence in New Zealand, Jane and James Ritchie once discussed the cultural aspects of social justice as they play out in NZ. within this discussion, they described the principles of Whanaungatanga, Manakitanga, Rangitiratanga, Kotahitanga, and Wairuatanga. They wrote:

Whanaungatanga is the value placed upon family processes which are basedon kinship obligations. In principle, the collective has primacy over the individual. In modern conditions, an individual may have long lost contact with and knowledge of the whanau, or family, structures to which he or she belongs. [Moana] Jackson’s point [in her report ‘The Maori and the Criminal Justice System: He Whaipaanga Hou – a New Perspective’] is that although we assume that such alienation is permanent, inevitable, and irreversible, this is not the case. Serious attempts to restore whanau control over the disruptive or lawless behaviour can and should be made.” (p.85)

“The second principle, which flows from the first, is one of reciprocal care or manakitanga. Maori must feed and give emotional and all other kinds of support to their kinsfolk, and no one counts the quantities or costs. The word reciprocity is inadequate to describe this value for it implies more than gift for gift. Manaki means that the door is always open and the well of goodwill will never run dry, no matter how harsh the judgement may be or the suffering which one must go through.

These two principles bind together with a third which is the core of both individual identity and group cohesiveness – the value placed upon kotahitanga or feeling of unity, of being at peace and at one together. Some see this as the highest valueof all since it is so difficult to achieve. Maori political process strives for consensus through the recognitiion of the viewpoint of each individual; the group would rather talk and wait interminably than force some compromise solution which would alienate one of its members. A dissident or a returning offender may need to state their case over and over again until everyone is prepared to make allowance for what they say or what they have done. The rehabilitation process is quite unlike the Pakeha concept that, once guilt has been established, a punishment price can be set upon it and then discharged. In the Maori world, all sorts of later events may reflect back upon the collective understanding of how great the guilt was and what the price must be. It is unfortunate that the Maori social mechanisms for maintaining this proces have been undermined by the pakeha system, but it is an alternative worth pursuing.

Ultimately, all three of these values depend upon the structure of authority within the Maori world, that is, upon rangatiratanga. Maori society is not egalitarian in the Pakeha sense but is infinitely status graded. Each person has a right only to a specific place and must behave accordingly or lose it. The structure of authority depends upon significant acts that establish ascendency of one person over another, but status is not fixed. Position must be maintained and can be advanced. A person displays status or mana by supporting, not punishing, by affirming, not ordering, by humility, not arrogance. Pakeha have great difficulty understanding rangatiratanga because Western notions of authority endorse individuality.” (p.86)

The authors continue: “Finally, all these values lock together in wairuatanga. It has become a common vulgarism to translate this value as spirituality, but to do so muddles up all the Christian associations f the Pakeha with the Maori process of validating actions according to their [-p.87] consistency with traditional principles. Wairuatanga is the principle of cultural integration that hold all things together over time; it is as material as it is metaphycial; as contemporary as it is ancestral.

For any of these cultural values we should not look for direct translation or simple formula phrases, but seek to understand the interrelated meanings that these principles have in Maori society and culture.” (pp.86-87)

Further on, the Ritchies also write: “What of Article II of the Treaty, which guaranteed Maori rangatiratanga and the right to use their cultural means to achieve their cultural ends? / Article II is not just about forests, fisheries, and other resources; it is about the authority system which protects these taonga or treasures for the people and regulates their use.” (p.87)

Ref: Jane Ritchie and James Ritchie (1993) Violence in New Zealand. Huia Publishers and Daphne Brasell Associates: Wellington

Reference is made to: Moana Jackson (1988) ‘The Maori and the Criminal Justice System: He Whaipaanga Hou – a New Perspective’ Wellington: Policy and Research Division, Dept of Justice [which, the Ritchies write: “declares violent offending to be a dehumanised and callous disregard for the inherent tapu of other people and a selfish, frequently destructive disregard for their property rights.” (p.84)]


About backyardbooks

This blog is a kind of electronic storage locker for ideas and quotes that inform my research... literary research into fiction for young adults (with a special focus on New Zealand fiction). Kiwis are producing amazing literature for younger readers, but it isn't getting the academic appreciation it deserves. I hope readers of this blog can make use of the material I gather and share by way of promoting our fiction. Cheers!
This entry was posted in Maori learners and education, Metaphors and Narratives around children and learners, Mono- Bi- and Multi-culturalism, Parent and child and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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