Safeguarding Whakapapa



 Safeguard your whakapapa.

How to use the material

This resource can be used to start conversations with young Māori men and women about their capability to safeguard their reproductive health, and to talk openly about using condoms with a sexual partner.

Tīwhanawhana Ana is a haka whakangahau – a dance to amuse and entertain people –  that is performed within Tūhoe to this day, on marae and in whaikōrero. The haka celebrates the pleasures of sex, and is a good example of how sex, sexual pleasure and sexual expertise were celebrated and expressed openly in pre-colonial Māori society. Sex was celebrated because of its important role in human reproduction and the significance of whakapapa – as a means of identity within a tribal structure, and also a matter of survival! Although the world we live in today is very different from that of our ancestors, the preservation of our reproductive health, and therefore our whakapapa, is just as important. A significant concern for us that our tūpuna did not have to deal with is the prevalence of STI and HIV, which can have serious adverse effects on our reproductive health. We need to consider this aspect of sexual activity, not just the pleasurable side, when engaging with our sexual  partners, and be proactive in safeguarding our whakapapa.

Points for discussion

Discuss how sex, genitals and reproduction were highly revered by our ancestors because they were fundamental to our continued existence as hapū and iwi, through whakapapa; and how sex was celebrated, enjoyed and talked about openly.

Relate this to present day society where STI and HIV are a reality and are heavily stigmatised, meaning that STI and HIV can be difficult issues to talk about.

Having unprotected sex exposes us to the risk of infection and infertility. We can safeguard our whakapapa, and that of our sexual partners by using condoms and lube every time we have sex, and by getting tested for STI regularly.

It can feel awkward or embarassing initiating a conversation with a sexual partner about using condoms, or telling a sexual partner that you have an infection. However, we can take the example of our ancestors, as seen in the haka Tīwhanawhana Ana, and talk openly with our sexual partners about sex, condoms and getting tested, and inform them when we have an infection.

The translator of this haka has not indicated who the composer was: perhaps it is not known. However, as the majority of waiata aroha and waiata whaiāipo, as well as many haka were composed by women, we should not assume that Tīwhanawhana Ana was composed by a male. Nor should we assume that in our tūpuna’s time it was only males that desired, celebrated and had sexual encounters with women!

Key message(s)

Young Māori have the capability to safeguard their whakapapa and the whakapapa of those they have sex with. Using condoms and lube everytime you have sex and getting tested regularly helps ensure your whakapapa will thrive!

Contextual information

This haka was sourced from a paper presented in 1995 by Dr Tīmoti Kāretu at the very first Māori community hui on HIV and AIDS, about how Māori views of sexuality have been strongly impacted by colonisation and Christianity. The haka can also be seen being performed by Dr Kāretu at the start of his video presentation in te reo Māori, entitled ‘Ngā Waiata Ngahau a ngā Tīpuna’ (see the LINK below). In the video, Dr Kāretu also performs and discusses many other examples of chants, waiata and haka relating to sex and sexuality. He encourages us to view sex and sexuality as our tīpuna did, as a natural and pleasurable part of life. They were not at all shy to talk about, or sing or haka about any aspect of sex and there was no shame or stigma attached to it.

LINK to the video presentation by Tīmoti Kāretu (in te reo Māori). HONONGA ki te ataata nā Tīmoti Kāretu (i roto i te reo Māori).

Glossary / He Puna Kupu

āhei(nga)ability, capability
ai(nga)to copulate, have sex
ainga ārai koreunprotected sex
hakapostural dance
Haka were not only performed as ‘war dances’, nor were they the sole domain of men. ‘Haka’ was a generic term used to refer to any dance or performance, including haka whakangahau (dances to entertain). Haka were composed, and performed, by men and women. Haka, patere and ngeri were considered ‘waka’, or vehicles through which to express the thoughts and concerns of the composer.
hauora taihemahemaReproductive health
he moana kino‘a sea of evil’. Here, ‘kino’ has been translated as evil or bad. However, ‘kino’ can be used as an idiomatic expression where it may mean quite the opposite. For example: Tino kino te pai – Quite the best! Too much! That’s great! ‘Evil’ in this sense may also refer to the alluring power of the ‘moana’, the sea.
hoa tōkaisexual partner, lover
hūhēto be embarrassed, ashamed
māori (noa)usual, natural, commonplace
matapaki(tia)to discuss
Mate KetoketoHIV (human immunodeficiency virus)
Mate PaipaiSTI (sexually transmitted infection)
mate wahine (/tāne)to desire a woman (/man); to have a sexual encounter with a woman (/man)
ngerishort haka with no set movements
orange tonutangacontinued wellbeing, survival
pakihawato be awkward, inept
pārekarekaenjoyable, pleasurable, fun
pāteresong of derision in response to slander
pūkoro (ure/puapua)condom (male/female)
taihemahemagenitals; sexual organs
tīwhanawhana anaTe reo Maori champion Dr Tīmoti Kāretu has translated this phrase as ‘heaving and pulsating’. The online Māori Dictionary gives two definitions for ‘tīwhana’: ‘to curve, arch’; and also ‘lines of moko over the eyebrows’.
tupuna/tūpuna, (also) tipuna/tīpunaancestor/ancestors
tūtohu(a)to indicate or confirm
waiata arohasong of love and longing
waiata whaiāiposong for a lover
whakapapagenealogy, line of descent
Whakapapa is conceived of as a continuum of descent lines and ancestral blood through the generations. From this perspective, the role of women as the bearers of past, present and future generations is of paramount importance. Whakapapa is also about birthright and belonging; it is fundamental to our identity as Māori, our inherited abilities, and our right of access to land and resources within a tribal structure.
whakaputa urireproduction

References / He tohutoro

Kahungunu Youtube. (2016). Dr Tīmoti Kāretu delivers ‘Ngā Waiata Ngahau a ngā tīpuna’. Presentation at Te Reo ki tua! Ngāti Kahungunu Language Symposium, 15 April 2016 at EIT, Hawkes Bay. Retrieved from

Kāretu, T. (1995). The influence of te reo and tikanga on Māori people’s perception of sexuality. Paper presented at the Hui Whai Māramatanga, Whai Oranga Mate Ketoketo/Arai Kore (HIV and AIDS), 22 March 1995, at Papakura Marae, Auckland.

Kāretu, T. (2002). Haka! The dance of a noble people. Auckland: Reed Books.

Mead, H. M. (2003). Tikanga Māori: Living by Māori values. Wellington, NZ: Huia Publishers.

Mikaere, A. (2017). The balance destroyed. Otaki, NZ: Te Tākupu, Te Wānanga o Raukawa.

Orbell, M. (1991). Waiata: Māori songs in history. Auckland, NZ: Reed.

Penehira, M. (2015). Mouri Whakapapa: Repositioning Māori resistance and wellbeing in sexual and reproductive health policy and provision. A report prepared for the Health Research Council of New Zealand on completion of the Hohua Tutengaehe Postdoctoral Fellowship.