Whānau (Māori pronunciation: [ˈfaːnaʉ]) is a Māori-language word for extended family. It is sometimes also used in New Zealand English,[1] particularly in official publications.[2][3]

In Māori society, the whānau is also a political unit, below the levels of hapū and iwi, and the word itself has other meanings: as a verb meaning to be born or give birth.

They have something called the Whakapa, which is a geneaology or some sort of family tree which also includes special connections and relationships with journeys, and places. First on the whakapa comes the waka, meaning the canoe. By that people mean the people who came from the island of polynesia with their canoes all the way to New Zealand. Second, is the iwi meaning tribe. Te iwi includes all the hapa or sub- tribes . They all have common ancestors. As it says previously, the iwi is divided into hapa, which are extended (not divided) into generations. FInally comes the waka, the generation which are divided into biological families.

Early Māori society

In the Māori tribal organisation the whānau comprises a family spanning three to four generations. It forms the smallest partition of the Māori society.[4]

In the ancient Māori society, before the arrival of the Pākehā, a whānau consisted of the kaumātua (tribal elders), senior adults such as parents, uncles and aunts, and the sons and daughters together with their partners and children. Large whānau lived in their own compound in the pā. Whānau also had their own gardening plots and their own fishing and hunting spots. The whānau was economically self-sufficient. In warfare, it supported the iwi (tribe) or a hapū (sub-tribe).

Contemporary conceptions

Contemporary conceptions offer whānau in one of two ways:

  1. An “object or construction based on descent, cause or a mix of the two”; or
  2. “A collection of ideas”.[5]

As a descent construct, ‘whānau’ has been variably described as “the extended family”,[6] “the extended family or community”,[7] or simply "family".[8]

See also


  1. Linklater, David (31 August 2008). "Keep the whanau smiling". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 3 December 2011.
  2. educate.ece.govt.nz
  3. cyf.govt.nz
  4. The Encyclopedia of New Zealand, 15 May 2013.
  5. Gray, K. A. P. (2008). Tāniko : public participation, young Māori women, & whānau health. Massey Research Online. p. 10. hdl:10179/640.
  6. Moltzen, R.; Macfarlane, H. A. (2006). "New Zealand: gifted and talented Maori learners". In B. Wallace; G. Eriksson (eds.). Diversity in gifted education: International perspectives on global issues. New York, NY: Routledge. pp. 305–307.
  7. Thomas, T.; LaGrow, S. J. "Whanau workers: Providing services for the indigenous people of New Zealand". Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness. 88 (1): 86–90 [87].
  8. Pere, R. (1984). "Te orange o te whanau: The health of the family". In Maori Health Planning Workshop (ed.). Hui Whakaoranga: Maori health planning workshop, Hoani Waititi Marae, 19-2 March, 1984. Wellington, New Zealand: New Zealand Department of Health.

This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.