Whanaungatanga – Aotea Store

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Aotea, Great Barrier island is the sixth largest island in Aotearoa, however, holds approximately only 1,000 permanent residents. Consequently, the community is tight-knit and interdependent, concepts like whanaungatanga are incredibly prevalent. 

Whanaungatanga is a core concept in Te Ao Māori, stemming from the word "whānau" meaning family, and "ngātanga" meaning connection. It highlights the importance of positive relationships and interconnectedness. These connections extend beyond biological ties and reach the wider community and te taiao. Traditionally, whanaungatanga helped structure social organisations of whānua, hapū and iwi. 

Whakapapa is understood as genealogy and extends beyond the physical and stems from the spiritual. Whakapapa represents the past and present and guides the future, it helps us understand who we are, where we come from and where we stand in relation to others, consequently, playing a crucial role in establishing relationships within and between tribes. Whanaungatanga was the framework through which these relationships were acknowledged and maintained. In practice, it is shown through acts of hospitality, generosity and mutual respect. The community on Aotea consistently embraces whanaungatanga, fostering connections with one another and the land.


Aotea is a remote island, encompassed by dense bush and lacking public utilities for water and traditional power grids. Consequently, the community must live in close harmony with the laws of nature, fostering an innate sense of kinship with the land. Whanaungatanga with the land involves recognizing and respecting it as a taonga, they acknowledge their obligations and responsibilities to actively protect and sustain the wairua  of te taiao, expressing kaitiakitanga The Aotea community actively participates in conservation projects and initiatives aimed at protecting and restoring the whenua.


We are aware that Māori concepts and their definitions vary from iwi to iwi and that one journal doesn’t sufficiently address the true entirety and complexities of Whanaungatanga. Having said this, we think it is important to discuss prevalent concepts within our community and we believe that these entries help provide people with a brief insight into Te Ao Māori.