Koi te matapunenga maianga i te matapuuioio – See the unseen, feel the unfelt, believe in the impossible

Courageous practice in a Māta Waka social service provider


  • Lashana Lewis Te Hou Ora Whānau Services
  • Shayne Walker University of Otago
  • Paula Toko King Te Rōpū Rangahau Hauora a Eru Pōmare, University of Otago (Wellington)
  • Hunia Te Urukaiata Mackay VOYCE-Whakarongo Mai
  • Natalie Talamaivao Univeresity of Auckland
  • Daniel Anderson Te Hou Ora Whānau Services
  • Susan Kemp University of Auckland


Indigenous, Māori, Māta Waka, pan-tribal, social services, social work, practice framework, relational, wellbeing


This paper showcases the kaupapa (philosophy) and practices of a Māta Waka (pan-tribal), community-based Kaupapa Māori service provider in the nation-state currently known as New Zealand. Te Hou Ora Whānau Services aims to provide services that support and empower tamariki (children) and rangatahi (youth) to fulfil their potential within the context of their whānau (extended families), their cultural heritage, and their communities. The purpose of this study was to explore the philosophy and values that underpin the everyday practices and experiences of eleven kaimahi (practitioners) who work for the provider. Analyses of the data identified five overarching pou, or foundational supports that underlie kaimahi ways of being, knowing, relating, and doing, together with seven ‘takepū,’ or preferred ways of engaging with others. Te Hou Ora Whānau Services’ holistic philosophy and practice offers an important window into Māta Waka community-based Kaupapa Māori services that are responsive to tamariki, rangatahi and whānau Māori from diverse backgrounds and lived experiential realities. While some of the elements are specific to the New Zealand context, the pou and takepū offer guidance relevant to programs globally that seek to successfully and creatively respond to the priorities, aspirations, and moemoeā/dreams of Indigenous children, young people, their families, and communities.



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