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What are tikanga?

Tikanga are appropriate customary practices or ‘layers of the culture’ developed by Māori communities and individuals and informed by common cultural values and concepts.

Guiding behaviour and relationships

Tikanga are more than just ‘rules’. They are best described as a form of social control and can guide the way relationships are formed, provide ways for groups to interact, and even guide the way people identify themselves.

Tikanga inform frameworks that address ethical issues. They guide good behaviour and practice when engaging with Māori and the things that matter to them.

Practical applications of tikanga

In Aotearoa New Zealand, tikanga are already present in many domains and have become widely known and accepted for some time. They exist in many corners of our society, are heard on television and radio, and are seen in almost all daily interactions, from social media and classrooms to the sports fields.

References to tikanga and their definitions appear in some of our legislation, education policies, government services, court processes, and political systems. Tikanga principles reflected in areas beyond the marae context is not new, neither is it unheard of in Aotearoa New Zealand.

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Content last reviewed 23 November 2020.

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