Mana in Māori society

This entry has websites to help you understand the different meanings of mana and its importance in political, social and traditional relationships in Māori society.

Black and white photo of participants in the Land March crossing the Harbour Bridge on 24 September 1975

Image: Participants in the Land March crossing the Harbour Bridge, 1975 by the New Zealand Herald. Collection: Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections 589-0307.


Below are examples of keywords related to mana in Māori society. Use this list when searching the collections and websites in this entry.

Hākari: Feast, banquet or celebratory meal.

Kaihaukai: A feast given by one iwi (tribal) group to another, with the expectation that the feast would be repaid. Food giving or food exchange was a common practice between iwi.

Mana atua (god, spirits): Sacred or spiritual power from the atua (gods or spirits).

Mana Māori Motuhake: Self-government, independence, and self-determination by Māori. Mana Motuhake was also the name of a political party.

Mana moana: Power or authority over the sea and lakes.

Mana o Te Tiriti: Power and authority of Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

Mana tūpuna (ancestors): Power, or authority inherited by descent.

Mana tangata (people): Authority of the people. It can also mean power or status gained by leadership, or strength of character.

Mana whenua: Refers to Māori as indigenous people of the land. It can also mean the power and authority of the people of the land.

Ngā reta Māori: Letters in te reo Māori.

Nunuku's Law: A famous Moriori chief established a law of peace, that banned war and killing of people.

Peaceful resistance: In the 1860s Te Whiti-o-Rongomai and Tohu Kākahi used non-violent resistance against the colonial government's move to occupy Māori land in the Taranaki.

Rangatira: Role of mana held by a Māori chief or leader.

Protest movements: Peaceful Māori protest movements at Bastion Point and Ihumātao.

Tohunga: Role of mana for an expert in a particular field. For example, an expert in tattooing (tā moko) was a 'tohunga tā moko'. Priests were also known as tohunga.

Whina Cooper: Leader of mana and Māori activist. Best known for leading the 1975 hīkoi (march) to Parliament.

Tips: Before searching it can be useful to come up with a list of words to use. These are sometimes called keywords or search words. They can be the name of a person, place, or event you are researching. You can leave out small words like ‘the’ and ‘of’ and just choose the main ones, eg 'mana whenua'. We can always change our keywords or add more if we need to.

Tips: Also keep in mind that there are different names or spellings for words. Or they could have changed over time.

Auckland resources

Here are some collections from Auckland Libraries and other reliable Auckland based museums and heritage websites. They will help you find books and information on mana in Māori society.

Auckland Libraries Catalogue

This catalogue from Auckland Libraries will help find books on Aotearoa New Zealand and Auckland's histories.

  • Search the catalogue using keywords like ‘mana motuhake ’ or 'Māori peaceful resistance’.

  • You can get fewer results by using the filters under Refine by.

  • Select a book that interests you.

  • Go down the page to Edition information to check if the book can be borrowed or if it’s for In library use only.

  • Look further down the page to Related Resources to find other titles related to this search.

  • If you have an Auckland Libraries library card you can request the item to be sent to your local library.

Tips: If the status of the book is 'In library use only', it means the book can only be used in the library and can't be taken home. In this case, you will need to fill out a form or speak to a librarian about reading the book in the library.

Tips: You will find lots of books that have been written over 50 years ago. While they are good sources of information, we need to remember the context and time when they were written.

Kura — Photographs

Browse photographs, illustrations and works of art from the 1800s to the present day.

Tips: Always remember to check the copyright or usage rights of images. This will tell you if you need permission to use the image, and how to attribute the image.

Heritage et AL

The Heritage et AL blog is written by librarians and is a useful way to find information about Auckland Libraries heritage collections.

Tips: Blogs can be good for looking at how things have continued or changed over time. Remember, stories can be told in different ways so it’s helpful to look at multiple information sources to find different perspectives.

The Auckland Libraries YouTube channel has many videos about Auckland’s heritage, recordings of library events, conversations with authors, talks, stories, activities, music and more. Some of the talks are delivered by historians on their specialist subjects.

Tips: You will find a huge selection of videos on YouTube. We recommend you view videos from reliable sources like National Geographic, History Channel, BBC etc. These are official channels from organisations.

Tāmaki Paenga Hira - Auckland War Memorial Museum

This is one of New Zealand's significant heritage libraries. It has pictorial and art, Māori and Pacific, natural, social, and history collections. It is a great place to visit and check out exhibitions and galleries about topics involving Aotearoa New Zealand's histories.

Tips: Museums preserve and exhibit important cultural, artistic, historical or scientific artefacts. Some store personal collections. A lot of them have online collections and articles based on these collections.

Auckland War Memorial Museum - YouTube

This is the official YouTube channel of the Auckland War Memorial Museum, one of Aotearoa New Zealand’s finest heritage museums.

Tips: Lots of Museums (Te Papa Tongarewa and Auckland War Memorial Museum) have their channels on YouTube. The videos are put together by experts and are a great way of learning first-hand about history, culture and special collections held in a museum.

Remuera Heritage

The Remuera Heritage was established in 2007 to recognise, protect, and preserve Remuera's natural and cultural heritage.

  • Go to the tab called Exhibitions from the top of the page.

  • Look down the page for The Great Māori Feast at Remuera.

  • Use the link to the StoryMap to find more images and read more about the hākari hosted by tangata whenua Ngāti Whātua and the reason for the event.

Tips: Local heritage sites are a great way of learning about the local history and culture of a particular area as they have stories that connect the past with the present.

General New Zealand resources

The websites below belong to government agencies, national museums, archives, libraries, and other reliable sources. They will help you find information on the importance of mana to Māori in their political, social and economic relationships.

Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand

Te Ara is an excellent starting point for all questions about New Zealand Aotearoa. If we look down to the bottom of the page, we can see that the website belongs to the Ministry for Culture & Heritage, so the information is well-researched and reliable.

  • Use the word 'mana' in the search box.

  • Check out the links Roles and mana and Mana, tapu and mauri.

  • You will find lots of information on mana and the daily life of Māori.

  • The link Moko and status explains the relationship between moko and mana.

  • Again use the search words 'Nunuku's Law' to find the page Moriori that explains Nunuku's Law and how it came about.


NZHistory is a great website for information about New Zealand Aotearoa. If we go all the way down the page we can see that the website belongs to the Ministry for Culture & Heritage, so the information is well-researched and reliable.

  • Use the search box at the top of the page to enter the keyword 'mana'.

  • You will find a link called Māori values and practices.

  • It has information on how mana, tapu and utu are connected.

Tips: We like sites like this because they’re reliable. You can tell because of their web address – they have either .govt or .ac, meaning they are from government or educational organisations. They’re also New Zealand sites, so relevant for us.

Science Learning Hub

This website is great for science topics for New Zealand students. It has articles, activities and videos and was put together by the University of Waikato and Curious Minds (NZ).

Tips: Not sure what Māori word means? You can use the Te Aka Māori Dictionary or Paekupu to search for the meaning.

Aotearoa History Show

This video podcast from Radio New Zealand tells the story of Aotearoa New Zealand from when the land was formed to today.

  • Look through the episodes for Season 2 Ep 7: Moriori.

  • You can either listen to the podcast or watch it as a video.

  • You will hear about Nunuku's law of peace.

Tips: Websites that have .com or .co in the address can have good information, but you need to assess how reliable it is. Check the About us link on the website, if you can find one. That can tell you what the company’s mission and values are.

Topic Explorer (National Library)

Topic Explorer is an online tool from the National Library of New Zealand. It has a wide range of quality resources for students in different formats (eg articles, books, images, videos, primary sources, sets, and websites) on various topics. Resources are selected from reliable national and international sources.


You can also visit your local public library for books on Auckland and Aotearoa New Zealand histories. Listed below are a few titles to help you with your search for books on this topic:

More about Auckland

Local iwi

There are many iwi with ancestral relationships to Tāmaki Makaurau. This page lists iwi and websites which have information about their histories.

Learn about local iwi

Changing views on conflict

This entry recommends resources to find out how New Zealand's involvement and views of conflict have changed over time, and how wars are commemorated. It also looks at New Zealand's work with the United Nations and current ideas of national identity.

Learn about changing views on conflict

Colonial power in the Pacific

This entry has collections and websites to help explore the history of New Zealand's presence and colonial power in the Pacific. It has examples of the rise of independent Pacific nations and how they sustained their culture and presence in the Pacific.

Learn about colonial power in the Pacific

Decolonising the Pacific

This entry will help you find the best websites and collections to explore the decolonisation of the Pacific, including Aotearoa New Zealand's continued interests in the region.

Learn about decolonising the Pacific

Economic independence and vulnerability

This entry will help you find information about the history behind Auckland's economic progress and independence, and the factors that impacted it.

Learn about economic independence and vulnerability

Finding a place in Aotearoa New Zealand

Since the 1700s, new people have immigrated to Aotearoa. Some came in search of a better way of life or because their country was no longer safe. Newcomers could experience racism and discrimination. They also helped shape New Zealand as a country.

Learn about finding a place in Aotearoa New Zealand

Māori economy: opportunities and challenges

This entry will help you find the best websites and databases that explore the history and development of the Māori economy including the challenges Māori faced from the New Zealand Wars, land sales and decisions made by the Native Land Court.

Learn about māori economy: opportunities and challenges

Peopling the colony: inclusion and exclusion

This entry recommends places to find information about the history of immigration to Tāmaki Makaurau and New Zealand. This includes immigration laws and changes, the role of Māori in immigration, and the government's attempt to set right past injustices.

Learn about peopling the colony: inclusion and exclusion

Sovereignty vs rangatiratanga: wars, laws and policies

This entry recommends websites where you can find information about the impacts of land laws on Māori, the New Zealand Wars, and attempts by Māori to find justice and build a relationship with the Crown.

Learn about sovereignty vs rangatiratanga: wars, laws and policies

Technology and economic development

This entry will help you understand how advances in technology and land acquisition developed Auckland's economy but greatly impacted Māori and their economy.

Learn about technology and economic development

Te Tiriti o Waitangi

This entry recommends websites and collections to find information about He Whakaputanga o te Rangatiratanga o Nu Tireni | The Declaration of Independence and the Treaty of Waitangi | Te Tiriti o Waitangi, their significance, and the signatories.

Learn about te Tiriti o Waitangi

Transforming environments

This entry explores changes made by settlers to Aotearoa's natural environment, their naming of places and features, and efforts to conserve and restore its natural beauty.

Learn about transforming environments

Transforming te taiao

This entry will help you find information on the changes made to the environment by pre-European Māori, and their care and connections to te taiao (the natural world).

Learn about transforming te taiao

Urbanisation and being Māori

This entry will help you find information about Māori migration to cities, their challenges, and what this meant for their identity as Māori. You will also find information about some protests Māori were involved in to challenge political and social ideas.

Learn about urbanisation and being Māori