Te Pūmautanga o te Whānau: Tūhoe and South Auckland Whānau

Te Pūmautanga o te Whānau: Tūhoe and South Aucklan…
01 Feb 2012

This report draws on the voices of Tūhoe and South Auckland whānau, and the hapū, iwi, Māori and community organisations working with whānau, to better understand whānau resilience and strength in the face of financial hardship and adversity.

The Families Commission carried out five case studies with 40 families and whānau in very different communities. Two of these studies were Kaupapa Māori case studies; Te Pūmautanga o Te Whānau: Tūhoe and South Auckland whānau is the report of those two studies.

The data on financial hardship come from national data obtained through the Census and the Household Economic Survey. Consequently, data on Māori in financial hardship are usually reported at a national Māori population level. If these data are presented in isolation from the stories of the people themselves, the crucial contributions that whānau and their organisations make can be overlooked. By contrast, the case studies contained in this report speak to what is working for whānau on an everyday basis.


To understand the depth of stories from the whānau, and the organisations supporting them, we developed a Kaupapa Māori research process. This process enabled the whānau and their organisations to draw on, describe and contextualise their worlds through the use of iwi and Māori knowledge, and concepts and processes they are familiar with.

We decided to work with whānau living within their traditional tribal homelands, as well as with whānau who have moved to the cities, to ensure the research spoke to two authentic Māori realities: rural ahi kaa whānau and urban taura here whānau. Ahi kaa whānau are those who keep the home fires of tribal occupation continuously burning. Taura here whānau are those who live out of their traditional tribal areas, largely in the urban areas. They are often referred to as ‘urban Māori’. However, this term can be a misnomer as urban areas are also tribal homelands.

Tūhoe was one of the last iwi to be affected by the urban migration, with one-third of the iwi still residing in or near their traditional tribal homelands of Te Urewera. Further, the area has “poor infrastructure, roading, housing, energy options and a negligible health service”. The 2006 national Census found that the median income for Tūhoe was lower than for Māori as a whole.

Through working with the Tūhoe Education Authority (TEA), which is one of the gateways for research with Tūhoe whānau, whānau researchers were included in the research design to work with and interview eight Tühoe whānau.

The Commission also interviewed two whānau-based iwi organisations: Te Kaokao o Takapau, which is in the Whānau Ora collective, and Hinepukohurangi Trust. Whānau identified both these organisations as being supportive.

The Ministry of Education recently provided TEA with Tūhoe tertiary participation data that indicate a rapid increase in tertiary participation in the Whakatāne local area between 2008 and 2010. This was part of the long-term goal of TEA. 

The Commission approached the Manukau Urban Māori Authority (MUMA) to conduct research with eight urban taura here whānau. Manukau sits in the Tamaki Makaurau electorate. At the 2006 Census, 51.4 percent earned $30,000 or less and 43 percent of the population were aged 19 years and under. Further, 85 percent of the total national Māori population who did not know or affiliate to a specific iwi at the time of the 2006 Census, live in Auckland.

MUMA provides a range of cultural and social services to whānau in South Auckland. From 1990–99 the Aotearoa Credit Union was known as the MUMA Credit Union. MUMA has also established Radio Waatea in order to improve communication to and better support South Auckland whānau. At the time of the research, Te Puni Kōkiri was working with MUMA to pilot Kaitoko Whānau, one of three Te Puni Kōkiri whānau assistance programmes. MUMA is part of the local Whānau Ora collective and is also affiliated to the National Urban Māori Authority (NUMA).

The ‘other’ organisations interviewed included the Aotearoa Credit Union, the Western Districts Budget Services (which are federated to the NZ Federation of Family Budgeting Services) and the South Auckland Christian Food Bank.

Page last modified: 15 Mar 2018