Innovative Approach to Whānau Ora

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Kaupapa Māori Methodolgy the foundation to success for local Wainuiomata rangatahi

We’ve been working hard to set the framework that guides our practise delivering services to rangatahi.  Being apart of Takiri Mai te Ata has meant we are privileged in being able to use the principles of “The Manu”.  A framework specifically designed for the agencies apart of Tākiri Mai te Ata Whānau ora collective. 

The following high level outcomes provide rationale for working with rangatahi and their whānau to identify their goals and actions to achieve these and measure results:

  • Whānau self-management;
  • Healthy whānau lifestyles;
  • Full whānau participation in society;
  • Confident whānau participation in Te Ao Māori;
  • Economic security and successful involvement in wealth creation; and
  • Whānau cohesion (Whānau Ora: Report of the Taskforce, 2010:43).

Whānau Ora is guided by a set of principles that stress the importance of building whānau confidence and skills for achieving whānau aspirations and participating fully in society.  Tākiri Mai te Ata endorses the Whānau Ora principles:

See how the rangatahi roopu Mana Ake use these principles to guide their practise and measure their programme.


The Mana Ake Music programme runs alongside the Tihei Rangatahi after school programme as a means of engaging and uplifting rangatahi in Wainuiomata.

Mana Ake Music is an empowering programme aimed at nurturing and developing the aspirations and talents of rangatahi in the Wainuiomata area.

Rangatahi participating in this programme will gain lifelong, transferable skills and be mentored by industry professionals to take their natural talent and rise above the statistics and stereotypes attached to Māori youth in Wainuiomata.

We aim to provide a safe place for rangatahi to express themselves creatively and build pathways to education and employment for a better future for themselves, their whānau and the Wainuiomata community.

The program started with a small group of Wainuiomata High School students but has grown rapidly and now includes rangatahi from the ages of 15 to 21 years of age. This group includes rangatahi who are high school students and tertiary students, as well as some who have jobs and some who are at risk of falling through the gaps.

Through Mana Ake they are given opportunities to build confidence, resilience and positive development.

Taina Keelan of Ngāti Porou descent, renowned New Zealand Artist is the coordinator for this programme and supports the rangatahi through:

  • Songwriting / Creative writing skills
  • Studio etiquette
  • Vocal techniques
  • Instrument lessons
  • Music Production
  • Professional studies – licensing, performance right, royalties & publishing
  • How to apply for funding
  • Stage performance
  • Mix engineering and mastering
  • Music analysis
  • Picking up & dropping off rangatahi

The combination of having access to unique māori expertise with a kaupapa māori methodology or framework as the platform we believe could be the catalyst for rangatahi māori to dreaming and having a vision for their future, creating platforms that were never there before and allowing rangatahi to try new things.


Background of rangatahi who participated on the programme.

Currently there are 11 rangatahi on the Mana Ake Music programme.

All are Maori with 8 living in Wainuiomata and the remaining 3 having strong ties to the area. They range in age from from 15 to 21 with 4 attending high school, 2 on courses, 1 working and 3 not engaged in any type of post school activity.

All of the participants come from whānau in the lower socio-economic bracket and most struggled or continue to struggle with high school curriculum. One of the students who came from a particularly difficult background has excelled on this programme.

We’ll call him ‘John’ – John is 17 and not in school.

John has been in foster care for years and been mixed up with gangs and a raft of bad behaviour. He was referred to Mana Ake by a social worker and within a week through whakawhanaungatanga plans were made for him to reach his goals.

His days were spent trying to stay out of trouble and looking after his mum who he had moved back in with. She is very sick and he is her main carer.

After the initial meeting Taina made a beat and emailed it to him to write to. Three days later he was ready to record. The song he wrote is called Broken Homes and features on the Mana Ake Music album that was completed in May. The song is a powerful statement from a young person who has lived within the system and explains the raw emotion and situations a young person can be faced with when they are split from their systems and moved in to foster care.

John is now about to record his 5th song which will mark the completion of his E.P.”


Strengths of rangatahi identified

The strength of these young people is their natural talent and their passion for music.

Most of our rangatahi have grown up with kapa haka and have developed good musical tendencies, singing voices and the confidence to perform in front of an audience. Many are fluent Te Reo Māori speakers and enjoy writing songs in both English and Māori. They are proud of their Wainuiomata roots and proud to represent their whānau and community.

In the first instance Taina will sit down with each student and find out what their goals or moemoea are and how we can best reach them. Each student presents different challenges and this assessment is integral to developing achievable goals for them.

With most of our rangatahi a lot of time is spent helping them create – whether it be in song writing, new chord progressions, finding melodies, song structure and music production. While they create they learn new skills – instrument skills, creative writing skills, comprehension, understanding and applying complicated computer programs.

One student doesn’t sing or play so he has learnt how to use the recording software and set up the studio to record and is looking at tertiary education in sound engineering and production.

A lot of my time is spent producing new music for the rangatahi to write and record too. Taina who also works as a professional music producer puts the same effort into the rangatahi and their music as he would any known artist. Our rangatahi can hear this quality and work hard to make sure they give their best effort to each project.

The result is that we have music coming out of our little studio that is industry standard in production quality and would give most local record labels a run for their money. 

Our first major goal was the completion of the Mana Ake Music Volume One. 10 of the 11 young people participating in the Mana Ake program are featured on the album. The one rangatahi who didn’t feature on the album had to hold his song back because he gained Te Mangai Paho funding and his single will have a major release.

The rangatahi wrote and recorded songs which were put together on a compilation album called ‘Mana Ake Music Volume One’ We had an official release for the album during youth week in May and that was a huge success. We wanted the album to introduce these young artists to their community and for them to have a taonga for themselves and their whānau to proud of.

The first single releases from the album are about to hit the airwaves across Aotearoa and we’ll be shooting music videos to support those releases.

 Goals achieved as a result of engagement with Mana Ake


An improved sense of well being

  • Rangatahi have improved self-esteem

  • Student performed onstage with Scribe at Hui in the Nui after performing her own original set



Improved relationships within their whānau, community and society

  • Increased opportunities to engage with other community groups and providers

  • Increased opportunities to meet and engage with other rangatahi with the same interests


Improved self belief, trust, support and recognising their strengths

  • Rangatahi determining a pathway for themselves

  • Increase in opportunities for rangatahi to recognise their own strengths

  • Te Mangai Paho funding secured for one boys song written in te reo Maori – his single to be released nationwide in August.

  • Student shot his first music video with renowned Music Video Director James Mantan

  • Students first single produced by renowned Music Producer Zane Graham of the band Sonz of Zion


An improved sense of belonging and a place to stand

  • Improved connectedness with their community

  • Increase in unique and authentic learning environments and experiences


Enhancement of leadership, role modelling and becoming a visionary

  • Increased access to unique expertise

  • Rangatahi using their creativity to build a pathway for the future for themselves

  • Student has record deal pending with NZ’s biggest urban music label

  • Increase of positive rangatahi role models in the community

  • Students have been asked to perform at range of upcoming events – with artists such as Troy Kingi, Rob Ruha and more

  • Mana Ake Music has been asked to open for Rob Ruha in Wellington on his National Tour in August

  • Pathway created for rangatahi interested in studying music or mc-eeing at Whitireia Polytechnic

Te Reo

Improved understanding and use of the language

  • Increase in māori artists writing and singing in te reo māori


Improved understanding of practices, protocols, kawa, tapu and noa

  • Rangatahi learning a new karakia to begin and end their day


Click here to listen to the Mana Ake Album

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