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“Mate Kāinga Tahi: Ora Kāinga Rua. Being ready for when your home changes.”

Ka mate Kāinga Tahi: Ka ora Kāinga literally translates as “when one dwelling place declines, a second one will emerge to take its place.” This whakatauki was used by Tamamutu of Ngāti Tūwharetoa about 200 years ago to describe the iwi’s ability to survive.1

Today, kāinga refers to being prepared for when your living circumstances change including changes in renting arrangements.

The Service Innovation Lab (the Lab), the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and Housing New Zealand recently undertook some discovery work considering renting a property as a life event. This is the first life event where the Lab has applied wellbeing frameworks to inform development of potential government services.

Wellbeing frameworks have identified a need to include the Māori cultural elements. In this context, the team explored the cultural concept of kāinga, or home, and its potential to inform the project.

We looked at what it means to be in a kāinga in today’s environment, how to identify and enhance kāinga and understanding how it is a part of the Māori psyche. Historically, the concept of kāinga is part of matauranga Māori but it has evolved over the generations to meet the new needs of Maori communities.

There are many interpretations among Māoridom of what kāinga represents. Kāinga is coupled with responsibilities – there is a clear imperative to keep the fire burning, requiring fuel and attention to allow it to burn bright.

In a contemporary context, kāinga now includes the concept for living at a place while maintaining your identity. It represents the connection to the physical, mental and spiritual environment in which you and your whānau live. It's about people's rights, roles and responsibilities associated with the home environment: “I have the right to occupy this land and to be in this house, I have a right to feel this is my place - a home for me and my whānau.”

The visual presented below describes kāinga in a traditional sense and how that intersects with both owning and renting a residence. Kāinga has transformed as many whānau have moved from rural to urban settings, so kāinga for many now would be a 2-3 bedroom home on an urban section. 

However, kāinga is also a holistic concept of whānau members providing shelter, warmth and an opportunity to nurture potential.

It is my aspiration the blog, visual and video explaining kāinga helps Māori, Government agencies and all New Zealanders gain a better understanding of how Māori view their kāinga.

Video transcript

Onscreen text: Mate Kāinga Tahi: Ora kāinga rua. Being ready for when our home changes.

Onscreen text: A Mātauranga Māori framework for people-centred housing services.


Onscreen text: Tiopira Piripi, Senior Advisor, Integrated Services.

Audio: This framework is important because it's about looking at a home or a house from a Maori perspective. So really putting the kāinga and mātauranga Māori and at the centre of what we're doing.


Onscreen text: The framework as a whole.

Visual: Mate Kāinga Tahi: Ora kāinga rua. Being ready for when our home changes infographic.

Onscreen text: The name of the framework originated with Tūwharetoa.


Onscreen text: Tiopira Piripi, Senior Advisor, Integrated Services.

Audio: Ka mate kāinga tahi, Ka ora kāinga rua was first uttered by a chief called Tamamutu of Tūwharetoa, who described the Iwi's ability to survive.


Visual: camera panning over Mate Kāinga Tahi: Ora kāinga rua infographic.

Onscreen text: Home or kāinga is a concept that’s central to Māori culture.


Onscreen text: Tiopira Piripi, Senior Advisor, Integrated Services.

Audio: So let me take you through some of the core elements of what kāinga means to me. So I want to touch on this concept of ahikā roa or home fire in perpetuity.


Visual: Image of a marae with people outside, the word ‘Kāinga’ below them. One of the people speaking: ‘The root of kāinga is kā. Kā comes from ahi kā. Next to kāinga, is an image of a campfire, with the words ‘Ahi kā roa, the eternal home fire’ below it. Next to the campfire, is an image of a person lighting other fires from the campfire. This person is saying: ‘Ka mōmotu ki tā whiti… from the original home fire more fires are lit’

Onscreen text: The eternal home fire, Ahi kā roa.


Onscreen text: Tiopira Piripi, Senior Advisor, Integrated Services.

Audio: Ka momoti ki tawhiti. Now that's about having more than one home fire. And when you have a whakapapa link to multiple hapū, or multiple iwi, that home fire, in perpetuity, actually is in more than one place.

Visual: Image of two people speaking. Person on the left is saying: ‘I have a right to exist here. I have a citizen right to be here. I have mana, a place where I call the shots. Kāinga today is about… mana to exercise my rights… and the manaakitanga to fulfil my responsibilities. Person on the left is saying: ‘It’s about tikanga Māori. It’s about whanau living. It’s about more than a place.

Onscreen text: The framework also looks at rights and responsibilities

Audio: You have the right to exist. You have the right as a citizen.

Visual: Group of people standing together, speaking ‘It’s about a home and people, not a place or a house. Wā kāinga, our true home place. Hau kāinga, our home peole. Iwi kāinga, the Māori people – tangata whenua and Treaty partner. Kāinga wae wae, stamping ground.’

Audio, continued: And you have the right to exercise your mana within that whānau, or hapū dynamic.

Visual: Close up of the group of people standing together

Onscreen text: Kāinga is about the people.

Audio: Kāinga is about the people.


Onscreen text: Tiopira Piripi, Senior Advisor, Integrated Services.

Audio: We have wā kāinga, our true home place. We also have hau kāinga, iwi kāinga, and kāinga waewae. So all those terms include the term kāinga, but it helps us understand that there's actually a people element at the centre of what kāinga is all about.


Visual: Picture of a house and garage, a person standing outside, speaking ‘Where we live until… our houses are a home/kāinga with needs of shelter, safety and warmth…’


Visual: Picture of a mountain, top obscured by cloud. Below the mountain, the words ‘Kāinga tututu’, on the mountain, the words ‘returning to who you are, ūkaipō.’ On the cloud, the name ‘Hawaiki’. Above the cloud, the words ‘We return to our original home’.


Onscreen text: Ki te kore te kāinga whakamahana tāna tamaiti nāna anō e tāhuna ai ngā whare kia rongo ki tōna mahana. A child not embraced by the village will burn it down to feel it’s warmth.

Onscreen text: The framework outcome is based on a powerful Māori proverb.

Audio: Ki te kore te kāinga whakamahana tāna tamaiti nāna anō e tāhuna ai ngā whare kia rongo ki tōna mahana. We've all heard the saying about how it takes a village to raise a child. Well, in this case, a child not embraced by the village will burn it down to feel its warmth.


Visual: Mate Kāinga Tahi: Ora kāinga rua. Being ready for when our home changes infographic.

Onscreen text: Want to know more? Contact Tiopira in Service Innovation.


Onscreen text: Refer Kaitiakitanga License to use this image.


The full report of the discovery will be released in the near future.  If you'd like to stay across our work, please join our mailing list.

Infographic content created by Kim Quirke.


1. "A few of the Maori wise sayings from Lake Taupo", collected by H. J. Fletcher, The Journal of the Polynesian Society, Volume 31, No. 121, 1922, pp. 29-36.

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