The Great Māori Shame Legacy

As Māori, we don’t deal well with shame or whakamā.

Yet, our people are riddled with it. Whakamā impacts our social, spiritual, emotional and physical wellbeing. It sits at the birthing place for our addictions, obesity, violence, aggression, depression and therefore I would call it the number one killer in Māori society.

Let me say that again, the number one killer of Māori  people. So why are we not looking at it?

Whakamā  is often transmitted intergenerationally, and can stem from past trauma, which is why Māori  carry so much whakamā. The attempted cultural genocide at the hands of colonization, sought to rid us of our inner being and our identity. They then tried to replace our core strength by teaching us that Māori people inherently have an inner defect and to fix it, is to learn the white way. Colonization has done a wonderful job at making us feel ugly about ourselves.

Whakamā doesn’t have an exact equivalent in Western words, but is referred to as shame, feeling inadequate or with self doubt. Whakamā

 “…represents the feeling state in a person when he or she has felt dishonoured in the eyes of others”

or is

“…the sense of feeling ‘inferior, inadequate, diffident and with self-doubt”

Whakamā is a very uncomfortable feeling. People develop quite unconscious behaviors around whakamā, and they seek to hide perceived ugly or defective parts of themselves. Whakamā feels like a weakening of the self,  so a quite natural reaction, when we feel weakened is to protect ourselves and distance our self from the feeling, especially when it is extreme trauma. Distancing comes in many forms, but addictions and aggression are common actions. Distancing are survival strategies we teach ourselves to cope with the awfulness of that moment. So when I see some of our people struggling, I think to myself ‘that’s a survivor’.

While, some of the extreme manifestations of whakamā can be violence, addiction or aggression, even very seemingly normal behavior can be hiding whakamā, such as obsessive career progression or even fanatical parenting. The focus often is on not how you are, but how you look.

Shame loves to live in secrecy and doesn’t like to be seen, it finds ways to hide itself. The less you talk about it, the more you have it. Whakamā  is the fear of disconnection, from someone or people you care about, so essentially whakamā  is a connective disorder. It inhibits people from meaningful connections and living a full and purposeful life.  Connection is the antidote to whakamā.

The good news for us is that tikanga Māori is loaded with ‘connection’ and ‘belonging’ processes.  But the bad news for us, is that because of our connectedness, we also have group whakamā. Whole entire groups, such as a hapu, whanaua or iwi, can be whakamā. We tend to feel it more for each other, because we see ourselves as being connected to each other. That is a whole different level of a shame experience compared with, say for example Pakeha.

So why are we not looking at whakamā? Most people think that whakamā and its bad behaviours belongs to addicts and losers. But there is a lack of awareness in the general population around whakamā and its debilitating effects, whilst you might be living a good life, you might not be living your fullest life, so I challenge you, as a start to look at the ‘ugly’ parts of yourself. As the number one killer of Māori, we should be uncovering and getting at ‘whakamā ’. Or perhaps we are still just too ashamed to see it.

Photo Credit: Unidentified Maori group at Parihaka Pa. McArthurs Auction :Photographs of early drawings and paintings of Taranaki, and photographs of Hawke’s Bay, Greymouth and others. Ref: PA1-o-405-06. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.

Sachdev, P. S. (1990). Whakama: culturally determined behaviour in the New Zealand Maori. Psychological medicine, 20(02), 433-444.

Waretini-Karena, D. (2012). Maori experiences of historical intergenerational trauma and transformative pedagogies.


62 thoughts on “The Great Māori Shame Legacy

      1. Hello Kiri. I am an “illiterate” Maori man with drug-induced schizophrenia and your article makes complete sense to me. I didn’t know that whakama meant shame and whenever the word was applied to me I thought it described me as being sad and lonely. But now I understand that other Maori saw me as ashamed. Part of my illness is suffering from everyday psychosis but I do experience a more positive reality subconciously which makes my normal experience of life through what I see and hear to be total utter nonsense on a pathway of walking around in circles. There is no need for negative connotations of shame and ugliness. Its a contagious disease. None of this exists in my inner reality but some pcychiatrist is always going to tell me that I have a chemical imbalance in my brain so they have me on medication and living a life I never wanted. The rest of my whanau are all happy and dandy when I’m not around so I like to escape to my inner reality where better logic applies and I’m not ashamed of being a human being..😃


    1. This aritcle speaks to my soul… When our Shame is hidden it does more damage lurking in the darkness, when we bring our shame into the light it is seen for what it really is in the fullness of light as ugly as that my be, however its destructive force is minimised as we are confronted with reality… no matter how ugly things may seem truth and honesty will triumph over shame and bring healing to souls and generations to come.


    2. Kia ora,I tautoko all your 💖 felt awareness of this collective imposed disease of dictionary verbiage used as energetic weaponary.💥


  1. Interesting and I agree. Do I take your article to mean that we bring it out into the open? Not only of ourselves but also of others? I speak as one who is trying to get one’s head around the tikanga of whakaiti as well. In that; one must also be mindful of another’s mana. How would it work?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kia Ora Mariana.

      Empathy (aroha) is very important to battling shame. You have to be conscious of any shame that exists in yourself. This is usually a critical inner voice that tells yourself you are bad and defective. You need self empathy to heal that. Once you learn it in yourself, you then can recognise it in others, and begin to empathise with them.

      Whakaiti is a form of shaming – to make a person small.


      1. Great article and yes. Patience to sit with anger pain etc and to begin the path. I’ve started university and am finding strength in learning my whakapapa. Kind regards Kiritahanga xxx love out to our people ☺


      2. Kia ora Kiri. I have never known the word whakaiti to be used as a form of shaming, although i can see how it could and i can see says that’s what it is.

        I have only heard and used whakaiti in the context of one’s self, i.e, to make *yourself* ‘small’ other words to remain humble.

        I think that’s what Mariana was talking about.


  2. Kia ora koutou, every culture has values and principles with which that culture tries to understand their society. This applies to all situations they may have to confront or understand. Whakama and whakaiti are two examples of trying to understand societal behaviour.

    Whaka – Ma could be translated as being to make white or remove darkness or dirt or blackness

    Whaka -iti could be translated as standing in humility before others of significance

    I do not get these definitions from the posts. Whakama labelled as the biggest killer among Maori I cannot agree with. The actions of addictions abuse and violence in your posts are being identified as a result of Whakama or shame. What if Whakama is a Maori response to the Christian value of the atonement. That is it is a value to bring about a form of forgiveness for wrong doing or to make things right rather than shamefully hide things. Knowing the connectedness between our ancestral thinking and the creation of the Christian world it seems beyond doubt to me that our ancestors held strong spiritual beliefs and value systems.

    Just like our language does not have four letter slang or derogatory words, likewise we should all be able to identify that our values and principles were about the empowerment of people and processes. Constantly defining our Kupu against a non Maori society is going to always put us into a space of Maori Kupu non Maori meaning. You have done this with these two beautiful words if Whakama and whakaiti.

    I sense no shame. I have no shame. I only have absolute admiration for my culture and ancestors that gave so much meditation and Wananga to the development of our culture, concepts and values.
    Des Ratima

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you so much for your comment. Kiri has provoked debate on a very real issue with her blog and that in and of itself is to be commended.

      If I may, I would like to change my previous opinion to now adopt yours. Your argument swayed me. It makes far more sense and does not carry a negative connotation that made me feel a little uncomfortable; for I am not well versed in my mother tongue.

      I assumed that what Kiri had written was correct in its’ translation and it is to a point. That said, I do not necessarily discount what Kiri has stated, there are indeed problems within Māoridom. We as a people have unfortunately been incubated in a hothouse of colonisation. We have been brutalised enough without self-flagellation thrown into the kete of our lives.

      But I believe the perspective of how we approach it; through a loving and humble manner as expressed in your translation of the kupu, would serve our people far better. I was always told that whakama meant ‘to be shy’ to be reticent. Your explanation shed a whole other light to the kupu whakama and whakaiti.
      We can have honor in taking ownership of our very human flaws. For that is what they are.


      1. Whakama is a multiplex concept. Whakama in this blog refers to the self-criticising emotion that is felt by the individual. It is through this feeling, this uncomfortable emotional state felt by the ‘self’, that manifests in destructive behaviour.

        Please be mindful that this is a blog post, not a book, where all aspects and facets of whakama might be explored.


    2. Kia ora Des, I agree, I think whakama was very much a part of our culture of the past, that is our colonial past. I do not feel whakama, never have, when my back is up against a wall I come out fighting, verbally or with a pen.
      Like you I revel in the glory , the strength & beauty of our race, the fact that we have evolved rapidly through time adapting & changing to meet the challenges of modern civilisation, & we did this without losing our tikanga our customs, this in spite of the heavy superstitious, mind bending efforts of Christianity & thousands of god fearing colonists intent on destroying our identity & culture.
      The biggest danger we face was & still is the news media, who are constantly using our race as” the face of all things bad.” Front page & center. Our teenagers hear & read negative, manipulative untrue racist comments about their race ever day. No wonder they feel as though they have no hope, no future, that I believe, is the issue that has to be dealt with , not whakama.


  3. I like your whakaaro. I think it’s very informative. Whakamā is present with hungaona (inlaws) aswell. Many inlaws are left to feel whakamā when not fully accepted by whanau (that may hold mana whenua status) they have married into. Its concerning when hungaona have been part of their spouses family for many years and not yet fully embraced as one of their whanau. Te whakamā hoki

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Tena koe Kiri
    I think there is significant value in looking at the causes and effects of whakama in our whanau and communities . This is really powerful.
    What context do you have for the kiwaha ” Waiho ma te whakama e patu”? Andrea

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I totally agree, we do need to look at causes and effects. I interpret that to mean that whakama is punishment in itself, and shame is a very punishing feeling, I call it a yuck feeling, which can make you react against it (aggression) or retreat inside of it (depression).


      1. Kia Ora Kiri. I am a new follower with great interest in your work. I understand well the impact of whakama and its punishing demeaning impact as a Maori. However, seeking personally to find my own answers I discovered the following. Feelings such as whakama, is such that they will show or come and go, which we have little to no control over “stopping”, what ever their source. However, I believe given my own experience, that we can personally control “how we respond to such feelings”. As a simple example, we have no control over the weather but we can choose how we respond, by putting on a coat when it is cold or wet, or removing when it is warm or hot. I discovered this process to be empowering as I was the one choosing to understand what was happening and what I was going to do about it, avoiding the issue of blaming another for how I was feeling, which would have continued the cycle of dysfunction to my own detriment, even to feeling hopeless and depressed.


  5. I had a korero with a kaumatua recently about whakamā and he was saying exactly that – whakamā is the killer. He referred to utu as the restorative process, a cultural practice has been lost (and I’m not talking about an eye for an eye mentality).

    I took away this korero from my kaumatua: “Waea te noa whakawātea te hau raruraru i runga i a ia: take away the winds that have taken away his light as a human being, that has imprisoned him within himself without himself”

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Tena koe Kiri Reading your blog made something inside me shout yes, as I recognised your truth. As a Pakeha who worked for many years in my system, dealing with Maori rangatahi , the concept and manifestation of whakama was very visible to me. In my effort to comprehend it and its effects-and I saw the intergenerational effects too- I not only spoke with kaumatua, but searched pakeha literature for understanding too. That sounds like a contradiction in terms as I write it, but I want to share this-the Compass of Shame,(Google images) which shows the four ways that shame is expressed -inwardly and outwardly It is a visual of your kupu-well some of them! I hope you are OK with my posting-I think it adds to, and sits alongside your kupu.The knowledge I gained from both our cultures, enabled me better to engage with Rangatahi and Whanau,, to advocate for them, and enabled healing to take place between them and others when applied to the process I was facilitating.Thankyou for your words and thoughts .Nga mihi.


    Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Kiri.Just want to say that when our patents talked about te reo and its meanings, was that is what it means Whakamaa/ just that.They believed to break it into syllables or add english terminology was belittling the wairua of that kupu. They said every word in te reo has mana and wairua connected to them.There is in my view confusion being created about maori kupu.Im no lingustic scholar, but i do respect my reo. Thru my lens i see no connection to a state of any kind, especially whakamaa. Both my patents were fluent.Im semi fluent and raised around te reo, but not using it enuf. Mauriora.


      2. Knowing what Maori words mean helps you identify who you are and why you are here!!! The kupu whakama: derives from Hinetitama having children to her husband who was her father whakaiti: caused one to belittle oneself in shame and spend their life time waiting for their offspring in the underworld! Learn English words purchase Blacks Law dictionary. Te reo Maori is spiritual!!Translation and sub-titles misinterpret the true essence English lacks imagery and symbolism!!!

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you for sharing your whakaaro about whakama I agree it has a huge impact on our people particularly our urban raised youth and the Homeless whanau I awhi living on the streets. Nga mihi.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. wow this is so interesting.My dad always told us that Maori words are never defined in syllables.What you see is what it means. He also said, Maori names have wairua and to even try to fully grasp the meaning is to belittle its true essence. I never heard that kupu until of recent times. My whakaaro is kia tupato.Ko toku reo he poutoko manawa.


  9. I grew up in a time & space when to be Maori was shameful ….. & so i felt ashamed ….. my Father Maori my Mother Pakeha …… i didnt belong in either world i felt like i had to be one or the other that i couldnt be both. The yrs have rolled by i have lived in Oz for 30 yrs & recently returned home NZ after 17 yrs & i am filled with a great sense of pride as i have witnessed the rebirth of Te Reo & Tikanga ….. i mourn for the little girl who wasn’t as lucky to grow up surrounded by this beautiful culture that was not acknowledged let alone taught. I have returned to Oz with so much pride & a longing to learn Te Reo. Thankyou for your post it is something i have talked alot about recently ….. my trip home was very healing for that little girls soul for she found her place that was filled with Magic & she was bursting with pride. Love Mana xxxx

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Kia ora Kiri

    I enjoyed reading your blog and a lot of what you stated is backed by research. I did my PhD on transforming Maori experiences of historical intergenerational trauma. Kupu such as whakama- to be ashamed, patu ngakau, to be shocked and whakamomori are words that are relevant to and also describe Maori experiences of historical intergenerational trauma.

    Next week I present evidence before the Waitangi Tribunal highlighting that Māori deficit statistics from colonisation and legislative policies also contributes to and contextualises Māori offending and prison and crime statistics and that The intergenerational ripple effect of colonisation has never been addressed by the NZ Crown and/or the Department of Corrections and across Crown Agencies in the context of Māori offending. Good blog and all the best with your PhD. You will find my PhD thesis under my name on google, or on the website given below.

    Nga mihi

    Dr Rawiri Waretini-Karena

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kia Ora Rawiri, I just read your PhD last night and wow, yours is such a sad, but yet courageous story. Your journey is remarkable.

      I’ve provided a link for others to access it.

      FYI, Moana Ngarimu was a Papa to me (my grandfathers brother).


      1. Powerful to know…..I am Ngarimu VC & 28th Maori Battalion Doctoral scholar 2013 & part of the Ngarimu VC 28th Maori Battalion Alumni board. Your tupuna set an amazing legacy for future Maori to aspire and achieve.


  11. Kia ora.
    Im not the most educated man and have come from a whanau that has allways supported each other through life.
    I however stepped of the rails discovered drugs, alcahole gangs jail and a bad track record. I never blamed this on being maori or being a maori boy from the bush all the mistakes i made were mine and mine alone and to be very honest get annoyed that people make excuses for there problems because 50 plus years ago the pakeha were so mean to us and wouldnt let us speak maori or be maori. I agree what they done was crap but when are we as a people going to stand up and say enough of the blaming and living in the past and stand up and make our own destinations for ourselves.
    As maori people we are shy but we are also decendants of warriors and humble people or do we forget that and only focus on what the pakeha done to us 150 years ago, if we are going to use this as an excuse for our behaviour why dont we use the excuse of one tribe taking over another, one tribe making another slaves.
    We cant pick and choose what one culture has done to another move on from the past and make your own destination for yourself.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your honest story. Past experiences shape our present reality. It is only through an understanding of the past, we can move into a future we want for ourselves.

      This is not a blaming blog, but a blog that seeks to shine light on dark areas.


  12. So perhaps ‘tall poppy syndrome’ originated with us (Maori)? I love the thought provocation on this issue and in the way you’ve made the connections here with whakama – we need more of this stuff to help us think about why we are they way we’ve become and to help us get back to where we were before colonisation ravaged us. I can’t help but think though that on the flip-side of whakama we have ‘whakamana’ pea (or whatever the kupu Maori equivalent is to the phrase ‘mana enhancement’). We don’t practise mana enhancement as much as we should whether that’s from an extroverted perspective or more importantly from an introverted one. If we attuned ourselves to the kaupapa of mana enhancement we would 1) be more respectful to ourselves, 2) subsequently be more respectful to others, and 3) work our way back to the mindset of looking out for each other rather than worrying about ourselves. Self-centered thinking is a Pakeha concept and it doesn’t work for us. However, we need the environments to nurture and practise mana enhancement and anti-whakama behaviours, but unfortunately they no longer exist. The good thing though is that our people who are working with governance groups and who are in the positions to establish these suitable environments are beginning to see that we need them. And if that’s the korero that’s starting to be raised right now then there’s a good chance the korero goes further and that the environments we need begin to proliferate. To me that is a really good thing, and really mana enhancing 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I don’t agree with Maori Kupu like Whakama or Whakaiti were words to describe shame our people of old never gave us this beautiful language so that we have to be use in a negative way and if we breaking down Maori word’s how about Pa-keha Pa is a Maori village the word keha is fleas together a village of fleas which could of meant they suck the life out of our people and our land which sounds better than white pig that’s just own thoughts I’ve always told that Whakama meant shy and Whakaiti meant humble to me these Kupu don’t mean shame for I have nothing to be shame about nor did our Tupuna


  14. Tena koe Kiri, I so appreciate your thoughtful insights around whakama. I would love to receive more of your findings around this topic. My work involves engaging with troubled youth and dysfunctional Whanau on a daily basis. Its made me realize after reading your thoughts around whakama that our whanau are literally wearing it like a cloak but don’t realize it. The cloak is made up out of all kinds of dysfunction with whakama at the forefront as it tends to clearly manifest itself in the way our people hold themselves together. There’s that sense of shame that’s closely attached to it. My role as a therapist is to help liberate our people from the shackles that bind them up. Keep up the great work. If the opportunity arises, and you have a spare moment in your busy schedule, I would love to have some time with you. No reira maate atua emaanaki.


    1. Kia Ora Richard, I’m not actually professionally trained in this area so I do feel hesitant giving advice in an area that is not my speciality. If you look up above in the comments, you will find Dr Rawiri who is doing some incredible work in this area who will probably be a better source of advice and resources.

      You can send me and email via the contact form. Mauri ora.


  15. I would like to think I could…like others here claim that I do not experience whakamaa in the context given here. I wish I could claim further that not only do I not feel this, but that it could not be further from my mind.
    This would be silly though, firstly I do not know whether we are best suited to doing a self assessment on whakamaa on any level. If anything someone who ‘may ‘ feel whakamaa could dismiss it as a direct consequence without any conscious effort at all. We are after all talking about a complex emotion, one that has a tendency to defend itself much like the emotion at the other end of whakamaa spectrum call it what you will but being overtly confident suggests you may not want to divulge anything less so?
    There is a reason we don’t ask the girl at school for her hand when we are learning how to dance for the school ball. Why we don’t participate in the debate team, or the science fair, or the…you name it. If we have not participated or engaged well, then some form of whakamaa was present and no lack of ability can really be applied here as a reasonable excuse. We all know people who perform well under their ability, who shirk at contributing at a higher level, this I believe is what whakamaa is. It is a term, but in practical terms it is a tangible phenom that we can see.
    A young boy will get up and speak at a Marae, and in those brief few seconds before even a word is said, his body would have already told us the audience what sort of ‘relationship’ he has with being whakamaa. For some it is crippling, debilitating certainly almost without peer when it comes to personal and social progress. It will stop you harder than any lack of skill or ability.

    It takes a long time to understand whakamaa and the associated fear. For some like myself, I live with it, I have it, and I think of it as a control, a mechanism that keeps me grounded. I can reflect and speak to it. I understand that it may hold me back in a way I may not always desire, but there it is…this thing. It is character forming if not character retardation? I don’t know the nature of the beast fully, but it doe’s not pervade my every aspect of my person. In other ways I am not whakamaa, not at all and so there you go? Whakaiti…not so sure, but their is a connection between them, I guess the skill is getting the balance right in any given situation.

    “Post-colonial traumatic stress disorder” might ‘locate’ Maori in comparative terms compared to Pakeha and I do this because it makes sense, it adds up, it doesn’t make it ‘right’ but it may help explain why Maori are 2 steps behind the start line.

    In any case, whether this is a thing, whether we need to discuss it (I think so) further, have a hui, …I think the important thing to note is that it afflicts Maori at a level that cannot be denied or written off easily. In any case, Maori need to find..or re-find the confidence, assess the source of fear, what is tapu, and not, assess why the road looks harder than it really is, why we do not want to raise our hand for support when we are surrounded by people who want to help.

    Our social issues, domestic violence, etc etc can be attributed partially to whakamaa. Taking matters into your own hands because you are too shy to ask for help, or professional help is a biggie here. Being whakamaa for people who need help is a double whammy. In any school room class, most of the people who put up their hand for help are NOT in the back row. The back row isn’t full of dummies…they are just the ones who are too shy to put up their hand and ask for help…but do that for 10 years and you will have problems…do that for several generations and you may have what we currently have…a culture where being shy, not asking or sourcing help and support creates a ‘I will sort it,’ ‘ I will sort it out myself’ ignorance that helps terribly in giving us the sort of abysmal rates of hate crimes, obesity, self harm and suicide.

    Jeez I just read my post, it sounds so serious. It’s just my 2p. I am no professional anything, so rip it to bits if you must, I am not an authority on anything worth mentioning and I don’t mean to offend anyone with my views.

    Heoi ano

    Liked by 1 person

  16. hi kiri

    your post is enlightening to us maori who operate outside a marae/group connection – whatever the reason for our distancing – whakama will do 🙂

    i spent quite a few years observing my late tohunga/healer aunty…i was not invited to observe but neither was i discouraged. it was fascinating to observe her wairua and watch ‘miracles’ be performed. i myself can testify to its potency as on several occasions i was in need of her ‘counselling’.

    imo, the tohunga suppression act of 1907 can throw a lot of light onto the ongoingness of whakama as this act drove our healers into a state of paralysis and where the knowledge/gift came out particularly strong, the persons operated in a place of secrecy…and of course, as our ancestors passed on, the strict kaupapa surrounding this healing platform feathered away as well.

    however, the strength of maori spirituality continues to pass to generations of ‘healers’ who, in most cases, have no-one to turn for guidance…and in some instances, ‘freaks’ out the recipient who reacts by trying to ignore/close down their potential.

    there is a growing awareness of maori rongoa and as a consequence, the arts of our ancestors re: tohunga healing. it is vital that when we look at ‘whakama’ that it be seen in a ‘holistic’ environment ie: body, mind, soul…and how that applies to maori. some maori are very sensitive toward their connection to their past ancestors (yes we do continue the vibration..) and sometimes we carry that vibration past its use-by-date. this then tips into the arena of the tohunga.

    if we are to bring such things as whakama into the public vestibules, we need to also bring its entirety for digestion and i realise this is a blog (and not a book:) but as you have stated whakama is our number one killer then you may wish to look at the dumbing down of our talented healers for further insight….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. yes, the next stage in my research will be to look at healing, although there is quite a bit of work already being done by others in this area. Thanks for those thoughts.


  17. Tens koe Kiri
    As a Pakeha no longer living in Aotearoa New Zealand but continuing to feel strongly connected, and someone dealing with being more ‘out’ about early life factors creating shame and vulnerability, I valued reading your thoughts. You may be familiar with Brene Brown’s work on shame and vulnerability … but, if not, find her findings of value alongside your own research.
    Nga Moho Marianne

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Morena Kiri.


    This is at the ‘core’ of deficit-raised theory explaining the ‘why’ behind ‘dependency’ and why we have been raised to self-doubt, because our parents doubted themselves and their parents and grandparents too.


    Aware of this pervasion, prescribe a fulfilling life for our kids, framed through a suite of values to live by, characters to imbue. Write them down even, ’emotional’ milestones attainable year by year……..and then ‘model’ these values – these characters – this life to our kids so they acquire by ‘experience’ by living the values. Define our own ‘tikanga’ to live by.

    “Our children are our teachers”

    Mauri ora.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. kia ora
    very recently i have decided to clear my hinengaro of whakama by seeing it as mostly discourse bought on by the kino of things such as colonisation, racism and the like.i found in my own journey that most of the whakama is the deficit ideas of those that oppress tangata whenua, and that when we let that whakama in , we are actually helping the coloniser or assimulater making their lies and kino almost pono.
    i have learntthat seeing these voices and their lies for what they are, makes us stronger and even more proud to be tangata whenua. I have found that this transformation from kino discourse to pono makes those around me more open to the jewels offered by tangata whenua and they too have an opprotunity to partake in our awesome culture….i totally agree with you that we have to korero about whakama. not only to free us the oppressed but also the oppressor who is a victim of his own crap…(cuse my diction)
    tau ke to korero!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. yes, the critical voice of we have of ourselves does keep us down. Whakama is a feeling too so it is released in the body. It fells kinda yuck and sickening. Its good to recognize it when it happens.


  20. Nui te mihi ki a koe Kiri. Thank you for this wonderful blog.. and all the thought-provoking whakaaro posted below also. Such a wonderful topic to shed some light on. It is rather challenging korero, and i admire your bravery at putting it out there.. I would have no doubt experienced some “whakama” as a result. Heoi anō.. it is so important to discuss these things. Whakama i know to be very real from the stories of my Papa and his upbringing. I have also experienced whakama many times in my life… and continue to occasionally to this day… as a result of some of the actions of my past… I figure its a case of “reconciling”. Nga mihi ano ki a koe e te tuakana x


  21. A bit late in the day – but I believe that whakama is manifest in many Maori as soon as they speak – for so many effect a contrived pattern of speech that denigrates themselves – not specifically the cuzy bro, but I hope you might know what I mean – think back to Billy-T-James skits. It is a dumbing down of the speech – more in tone and inflection rather than what they say. It is maddening to hear, but it screams, I do not think I am good enough to speak properly – I am inferior. If there is self-belief and pride in one’s self, this does not happen.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I could not agree more Ian…. What is worse is when Te Mangai Paho and Māori TV ‘choose’ to fund – produce and present content that perpetuates that rubbish.


  22. Kia ora Kiri, this is absolutely spot on.. it can be transcultural too, in this day and age when we are multicultural in heritage, we can feel whakama for not fitting in to our heritages, not quite pakeha, not quite Maori, feeling ashamed for being both. Colonisation has stripped us – robbed us of a peaceful and proud heritage. Nga Mihi


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s