Our site is to support Māori whānau (families) to provide care to adults and kaumātua (older people) at end of life, as well as take care of whānau at the same time. We want to support whānau who may have been unable to retain their traditional care customs due to the forces of colonialism and assimilation, as well as the influence of modern urban lifestyles. We use stories (pūrākau) from whānau manaaki (family carers), rongoā clinicians, tohunga practitioners and Māori health professionals who took part in the Pae Herenga study, to show the different ways whānau manaaki provide care. Pūrākau are powerful as they help us connect with the past, our tūpuna (ancestors), our environment, each other, and future generations. Stories tell us a lot about who we are as Māori, the strength of our aroha (love, caring, and compassion) and the unconditional care we give those we love.
"Stories (pūrākau) are powerful as they help us connect with the past, our tūpuna (ancestors), our environment, each other, and future generations to come."
Throughout this website we introduce the stories of whānau manaaki who have gifted their pūrākau to help other whānau to provide end of life care. Each whānau manaaki story includes both the cultural values and customary practices handed down by that family’s tūpuna (ancestors) as well as wisdom earned through life experience. The storytellers describe caring for a parent, grandparent or an older aunt, uncle or cousin before, during and after they crossed the ārai (veil). In Te Ipu Aronui we celebrate the things these storytellers have in common as well as the differences in how they provided care.
These stories show that both men and women have special roles to play in their whānau to support people at the end of life. In fact everyone has a role to play, from a pēpi (infant) who warms the heart of a koro (grandfather) and a kuia (grandmother) to a rangatahi (youth) who provides their kaumātua with companionship. Whānau members help with meeting new challenges, overcoming obstacles and helping the whānau to keep moving forward in difficult circumstances. Whānau help to unite everyone at this challenging and often rewarding time. The mana (status, authority, prestige) of whānau manaaki reflects the power that is generated when whānau work closely together.
Te Ipu Aronui celebrates the ways of our tūpuna, our traditional methods of nurturing and caring, and the leadership that unites and strengthens whānau. The website also celebrates the inspiring ways that whānau adapt their tikanga (customs) to respond to their cultural preferences and needs.
We believe the evolving nature of Māori culture helps to strengthen us to do the sacred work of caring for those we love, who live with dying. Our culture is alive and our customs are thriving, however, Māori tikanga are not set in stone. Our stories highlight that we respond and grow into our ever-changing circumstances, environment and world. Sometimes there are cultural end of life care variations between iwi and hapū. Similarly, whānau and individuals can have diverse needs and end of life care preferences.
We honour the sacred work that whānau carry out, and we acknowledge that everyone has their own kete (basket) of caregiving knowledge. We hope the information, stories and videos we have gathered from the Pae Herenga study participants will uplift and inspire you to add something to your kete.