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Title: Whānau  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Whakapapa, Iwi, Marae, Mount Hikurangi (Gisborne District), Aboriginal child protection
Collection: Iwi and Hapū, Māori Society, Māori Words and Phrases
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Whānau (Māori pronunciation: ) is a Māori-language word for extended family, now increasingly entering New Zealand English,[1] particularly in official publications.[2][3]

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


  • Early Māori society 1
  • Contemporary conceptions 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4

Early Māori society

In the

  1. ^ Linklater, David (31 August 2008). "Keep the whanau smiling".  
  2. ^
  3. ^
  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.  
  6. ^ Moltzen, R.; Macfarlane, H. A. (2006). "New Zealand: gifted and talented Maori learners". In B. Wallace; G. Eriksson. 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. Hui Whakaoranga: Maori health planning workshop, Hoani Waititi Marae, 19-2 March, 1984. Wellington, New Zealand: New Zealand Department of Health. 


See also

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

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

Contemporary conceptions offer whānau in one of two ways:

Contemporary conceptions

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 . 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).


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