Te Ara Whakamana: Mana Enhancement is a circular framework that uses the Māori creation story, colour, imagery, narrative and cultural metaphors as powerful tools to connect individuals to their Mana, their sources of strength, and their world.
Te Ara Whakamana is a tool that develops rapport, a fundamental requirement for positive communication and relationships. Te Ara Whakamana moves us back to the richness and power of imagery, pūrākau/stories of our origins, of archetypes and superheroes, of amazing adventures, actions and deeds, of overcoming great adversity. Stories passed down to us by our mothers and fathers, our aunts and uncles, our grandparents and from our revered ancestors. Myths and legends, fables and parables, sayings and proverbs have been used through the ages in this way to illustrate instructive lessons or principles for living well on this earth.
How does Te Ara Whakamana work?
Through the process of co-construction, Te Ara Whakamana provides a culturally centred framework for a strengths-based conversation that explores the way in which we face and respond to life’s challenges. A person’s mana, (core value, prestige, authority, control, power, pride, influence, status, spiritual power, talents, uniqueness, charisma etc), and the mana of the family, becomes the focus point from which all actions and deeds are measured.
The inquiry based approach of each segment in the framework makes provision for early recognition, self-knowledge, emotional literacy and the opportunity to do something differently, in a new, mana enhancing and sustainable way, to manage crisis escalation at an early stage. The emergent plan can then be shared with all supporting whānau/family members, community support workers and social service agents alike.
The model becomes a reference point from which to set future goals, self monitor, measure progress and outcomes and collect and analyse data, all from a strengths perspective. Analysis of the model accommodates the views of the individual and their whānau alongside the professional’s, which is more likely to uncover important aspects which otherwise may have been neglected or overlooked.
The process of gathering qualitative and quantitative data in each segment of the model becomes an intervention in itself as people experience, understand, share and articulate their responses and explore mana enhancing strategies to problems, i.e, in depth and meaningful triangulated data, to provide a measurement of outcomes from an holistic perspective.
“Self-disclosure can have positive effects on everything from the most basic of needs — physical survival to personal growth through enhanced self-knowledge; self-disclosure, like other forms of communication, seems to be adaptive.“Adrian F Ward
The power and spirituality of creation stories
Creation stories exist to provide societies with wise messages, examples and instructions for living harmoniously with all things on the earth. They provide ancient and eternal values that concentrate on placing a story in people’s minds to allow a perspective on what is happening in their own life. Being able to tell these stories not only meaningfully connects individuals, their families and their communities but also positively enhances professional practice. By articulating and making explicit relationships, rapport is strengthened and becomes a powerful agent of change. Rapport has long been acknowledged as a critical factor in deep learning and behaviour change.
“Myths are clues to our deepest spiritual potential, able to lead us to delight, illumination, and even rapture.“Joseph Campbell
Te Ara Whakamana and Kaupapa Māori practice
Kaupapa Māori (cultural philosophies and practices) models seek to encourage whole of whānau approaches to problems which hold individuals to account outside of the punitive model. This cultural healing pathway explores and reconnects Māori to their spiritual, physical, emotional and family origins of well being wherein lie deeply powerful and transformative components. Kaupapa Māori approaches, formulated and delivered ‘for, by and to Māori’ where Māori thinking, values, relationships, knowledge, language, stories and songs, protocols and world views and their relationship to today’s environment form the basis of engagement, are considered best practice when working with Māori. Te Ara Whakamana provides a powerful tool from which to deliver a Kaupapa Māori response.
Te Ara Whakamana and other Cultures
This holistic approach is sound practice and is effective with other cultures and groups as the importance of empowering families from strength based socio-cultural constructs and building capacity is at the heart of the approach. While Te Ara Whakamana applies the Māori creation story as an appropriate conceptual framework for working with whānau and their communities, the framework is open to other belief systems and cultures to ensure resonance and ownership. In order to work to its optimum effectiveness, the model must come from and reflect the whole person, their values and the people around them who they identify as best placed to help them. No matter the culture or belief system, by encouraging and affirming individual perspectives in that culture or belief system, the uniqueness of the individual is encouraged and affirmed allowing a deep connection to self.
“Your worldview – anyone’s worldview – is too important to ignore.“Ken Funk, 2001
Restorative Practice and a Model of Practice
Te Ara Whakamana opens the opportunity for restorative practice. Empowering people through enhancing mana facilitates a pathway to seeing other perspectives which aids in the important development of empathy and compassion. For restorative purposes, perceptions of the offender’s ability to understand the scope and impact on the victim of the offence, and the importance of reform is a significant factor. With Te Ara Whakamana, participants feel understood and empowered to better manage and take ownership of their emotions. They are supported to make self identified changes and any reparations that may be necessary. Te Ara Whakamana is a contributive tool for restorative practitioners as all who are involved; victims, offenders and their whānau/families can, in a timely way, participate in, better understand and be empowered by the purpose and aims of the restorative justice process.
“Many people wait throughout their whole lives for the chance to be good.”Friedrich Nietzsche 1844-1900