Mana is an external expression of achievement, power and influence. Mana usually takes a physical form. Mana can be manufactured and ego bound or driven by the individual’s own sense of importance. Mana can be a product of deeds and accomplishments. Mana is transferable. Mana is sustained by mauri.


Three forms of mana have been identified as important for good social order. In order for whānau, hapū and iwi to be well they need a consciousness of mana atua, mana whenua and mana tangata to restore balance.

Mana atua – dependence

Mana atua is the memory of life prior to and after this life. We choose to have a memory about coming from and returning to ngā atua. People who have lived here before us are spiritual beings that are greater than us and they influence life as we know it. Mana atua in a practice sense is about recognising that the individual is a part of life’s continuum, a descendant and representative of tūpuna and that acknowledgement exemplifies the fundamental importance of whakapapa in the therapeutic relationship. Knowledge of tūpuna can also help to provide explanations for particular characteristics or behaviours of whānau, hapū and iwi.

Mana whenua – inter-dependence

Mana whenua is said to be a sense of ko te whenua te toto o te tāngata (the lifeblood of mankind is the land). The land is the people and the people of the land. We are a reflection of the land. Mana whenua confers rights and responsibilities on whānau, hapū and iwi who connect to their tūrangawaewae (sense of belonging). In a practice sense, mana whenua means that the practitioner must recognise particular whānau, hapū and iwi and their connection to the whenua and respect the prerogative of tāngata whenua to determine appropriate solutions and practice. Mana whenua may not exist for some whānau as a conscious state but like whakapapa it does exist and may be accessed. It means that practitioners working in te rohe o Kai Tahu, for example, must be mindful of the appropriateness and currency of the processes and practices and the need to gain support and validation from tangata whenua.

Mana tangata – independence

Mana tāngata is political identity and security, but it has more to do with relationships. It is about our sense of rangatiratanga (identity, purpose, gracefulness). Mana tāngata is also about identity and how we choose to define ourselves politically. It is a physical state that can be conferred by others or inherited.