He moana pukepuke, e ekengia e te waka.

A choppy sea can be navigated.

You cannot control the environments around you but you can learn to read tohu (signs) and understand the function of your tools.

Within our framework there are five stages: Wairua, Whakarongo, Whakarongo, Whakarongo and Whakapapa.


Acknowledgement of the spiritual realm is a feature in many Māori customs. Tikanga on marae acknowledge and bind to this realm, from the karanga to manuhiri on the marae, to whaikōrero, karakia, and the poroporoāki. Belief manifests itself in the recognition of those who have passed and by making links to atua and seeking and commanding spiritual protection.

We appreciate and connect to letting the wairua guide our sessions. This connects to practices in Te Ao Māori like karakia, karanga, hihiri, the many aspects of te kauae runga. Wairua is fundamental to Te Ao Māori and entails a belief and acceptance that something exists beyond physical realities.

Belief in the supervision context means belief and trust in my supervisor; trust that they will practice in safe ways, respecting the validity and legitimacy of Māori language and culture. Also, they honour diversity and take strong direction and guidance from their support networks – kaumātua, community members, and whānau.

Whakarongo, whakarongo, whakarongo

The next three stages connect to the same kupu (words) but mean different things. We understand to ‘whakarongo’ means to listen with your whole being. In the context of Tairongorongo, communication is not simply about talking and listening; it was much broader. It means being available, accessible, flexible, and responsive. It is about valuing being heard and being able to listen.

A karakia/whakatauki used by Eruera Stirling (Whānau-ā-Apanui) begins with

“Whakarongo, whakarongo, whakarongo”

Listen with your whatumanawa, manawa and pūmanawa – referring to reflective listening with your, manawa (heart) – rational, emotional and intuitive listening. In Te Ao Māori, it is understood that it takes more than ears to listen; we listen with our mind or third eye to make sense of what we hear and set this against our experiences and understanding of the world. We hear with our heart, which provides an emotional connection to what resonates with us. Lastly, we hear with our puku, umbilical sensor, listening to our intuition and foresight.

If we provide environments and spaces where listening on all levels can take place, we can start building our knowledge capacities and our transformative endeavours.

When all three are aligned you can make an informed decision. This is literally the core of Tairongorongo. My role as a kaitiaki is to listen openly and intentionally.


Whakapapa encourages us to regard wisdom and knowledge as collective, with each new idea or concept building upon the layer before it. Wisdom is not about perfection or getting things right; it is about applying tīpuna knowledge to our generational context in light of our own needs and development. This understanding guides us to strive not for perfection but instead for the wellbeing of our people, to account for their complexities and diversity.

Whakapapa is about understanding connection to your words, perspective, relationships with the environment and the universe and knowing where you fit in the scheme of things.

Using a waka hourua metaphor, the purpose of a navigator is to read the tohu around the waka and crew and make informed decisions to get the waka from point A to point B. This is understanding the order of relation; understanding how whakapapa works on all levels.

Knowing our place in this world and that we are protectors of Papatūānuku, we have user rights to her resource, not ownership. Our tīpuna traversed oceans fishing up lands, collecting kaimoana, navigating storms, guided by tohu, currents and intergenerational knowledge. Utilising the tools available, paper does not work well on a waka. They used their two hands, one to steer the canoe on a pathway and the other to navigate – this is done by working out how your hand is in relation to the environment, or who you are.

The function of the captain is to keep order of the crew and ensure the maintenance of the waka during the voyage. Among key responsibilities was operations management. Both navigator and captain have mana in their own right, both depend on each other to get through the journey.

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