Te Ara Whakamana had its earliest beginnings in New Zealand Education when in 2007, a Resource Teacher of Learning and Behaviour, Nigel Marshall, began thinking about how to address the growing problem of managing extreme behaviour in schools, and the striking over-representation of Māori students in this area. Whatever resources and training that were currently available to schools weren’t working and daily reports of violent incidents in the media were creating a culture of fear. Nigel decided to gather his thoughts on managing behaviour into a thesis paper for his Masters Degree in Educational Psychology.
Several key concerns stood out at the time:
- Almost every guideline on managing extreme behaviour was based on overseas models
- Few had a cultural content that fitted or was appropriate for Māori students and their whānau
- Specialist knowledge and application was often required (e.g: martial arts/self defense training in holds and blocks)
- Effective and holistic tools for measuring outcomes were needed.
Nigel gathered a think tank of Māori and Pākehā (non-Māori) Elders, behaviour specialists, educationalists, kaupapa Māori practitioners, counsellors, restorative justice practitioners, social and community workers, and began to work on a model that would resonate with Māori students and their whānau/families, allow for respectful relationships to develop and ultimately real and sustainable solutions to the problem to emerge. Four years later, a model that actually worked for Māori, yet also powerfully resonated with people from every other culture emerged, instigating the movement that is now known as Te Ara Whakamana: Mana Enhancement.