Nau mai, haere mai!

It’s been a while since the last blog post, but I figured I should reintroduce Pēpi Penapena (Cherish Babies), the kauapapa and what I hope to achieve. Since Mum passed away in May, it’s just me now, but vision is the same: 

Every tamaiti, every child, is loved, happy and strong

Our Tūpuna (Ancestors) Were Wonderful Parents and Whānau

Pēpi Penapena (Cherish Babies) is a campaign to promote the parenting practices of our tūpuna, and to connect parents, parents-to-be and whānau with the best of our past. I want to share this kaupapa with all of you.

Maori Baptism Ceremony by Louis Auguste de Sainson

Devillier, active 1844. [Sainson, Louis Auguste de] b 1801 :Nouvelle Zelande; ceremonie de bapteme. Devillier sculp [Paris 1844]. Ref: A-211-013. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22728764

The Importance of the Early Years

According to our tūpuna, pepi was a taonga (treasure), not just to the parents but the whole kainga (village). According to them:

  1. Pēpi are from the atua (gods)
    • As such, they are spiritual beings, so are tapu (sacred)
    • Being tapu, they are not to be harmed
  2. Pēpi are born with the mana of their tūpuna
    • This mana was given to them from their parents
    • With this mana, they are to be treated with respect, as any adult would be

All Tamariki Can Achieve Greatness

Our tūpuna believed every pepi was born with the ability to achieve greatness. Tūpuna wrote waiata oriori (soothing songs or lullabies) for their pēpi, talking about the great things they would achieve or qualities they would have. 

Parents and whānau would show, explain and teach them about anything and everything in te ao, in the world.

Image credit:

Early Explorer’s Saw Māori Parenting Before European Influences

We know how our tūpuna treated and raised their pēpi and tamariki from our pūrākau (oral histories), our waiata oriori (traditional lullabies) and from early explorer accounts, like the following:

There can be no finer children than those of the New Zealanders in any part of the world. Their parents are very indulgent, and they appear always happy and playful and very active.

Samuel Marsden, 1820

One of the finest traits I have noticed in the New Zealanders is that of parental love; the men appear chiefly to nurse their children, and are generally to be seen with one on their back covered up under their mats

Richard Taylor, 1839

... Freedom given children, made them bold, brave and independent in thought and act ... curbing the will of the child by harsh means was thought to tame his spirit, and to check the free development of his natural bravery

Edward Shortland, 1840s - 60s

We Have So Much To Learn From Our Tūpuna

Māori were once warriors, but they were even more wonderful parents and whānau too. That is what we remember and that’s what Pēpi Penapena is all about.

Join Us on This Journey

Join our mailing list to find out when we share something new.

Join the discussion 2 Comments

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.