The norms and values of tikanga Māori provides a framework for how relationships and families function, including how people deal with property.
Two values are particularly important in Māori customary family law.
- Whanaungatanga reflects that relationships are everything. Whakapapa, which identifies the nature of relationships between all things, is the glue that holds the Māori world together. The basic social unit of Māori society is the whānau. The whānau is broader than the nuclear family. It includes grandparents, aunts and uncles. Whānau consider children to be taonga. The child is not the child of the birth parents, but of the whole family. Whanaungatanga recognises that an individual’s relationship with others defines their identity. Tikanga Māori emphasises the responsibility each individual owes to the collective.
- Manaakitanga involves nurturing relationships, looking after people, and being careful about how we treat others. Manaakitanga is always important. When members of the whānau face difficult times, there should be manaakitanga without cause or blame.
The Property (Relationships) Act 1976 focuses on the relationship property entitlements of the two adult partners. It does not reflect whanaungatanga. Do you think that if the Property (Relationships) Act 1976 allows room for tikanga Māori in important issues, like Māori land or whāngai, the law can remain as it is? Or do you think there should be other law based on tikanga Māori for those who want to be governed by tikanga Māori?