The transformative benefits of Nga Vaka o Kāiga Tapu

Turanga Māori is fundamental to the Cook Island cultural practices to help Cook Island people build safe and healthier families.

Opeta Tarata Tavita Utanga (Rarotonga, Aitutaki, Mauke) is a Cook Islands skin author (tatau artist) living in Tokoroa. He talks about the benefits of applying Turanga Māori - the Cook Islands framework for transforming family harm and restoring wellbeing - in his life.

"I met Tere Ford and Neville Takiri, two Nga Vaka o Kāiga Tapu facilitators for Turanga Māori in Tokoroa, when I was going through some hardships physically, mentally and spiritually. They took me through Turanga Māori one on one which was amazing. I took a lot of tools away with me that I still use today in everyday life as a father, son, brother, and businessman.

I think of Turanga Māori as a wavelength. If things aren’t aligned, I can’t be my true self. I know if I’m having a bad day or feeling stressed, I reflect back to the Turanga Māori framework. What’s not aligned and how can I fix it?

Turanga Māori has also become part of my business as a skin author (tatau artist) where I specialise in Cook Island tatau. What I’m doing is taking one story and creating it into symbols and applying it onto a person’s skin. Their papa’anga (genealogy) has a lot to do with it, identifying who they are and where they come from. I like to have a conversation with them before putting something permanent onto them. It’s about piri’anga or relationships, building one on one trust with your client."

      The Turanga Māori Framework
      Papa'anga - Genealogy
      Turanga - Position
      Piri'anga - Relationships
      Au Akaue'anga - Duties of Care
      Aroa - Love

Nga Vaka o Kāiga Tapu is a Pacific community developed, owned and mandated conceptual framework underpinning Pasefika Proud, encompassing eight ethnic-specific cultural frameworks. Pacific cultures and values are community strengths that support family wellbeing and protect against harm.

The Nga Vaka Conceptual Frameworks inform eight ethnic specific programmes. The programmes provide participants with an in-depth insight into cultural approaches to achieving family wellbeing, especially when dealing with family violence.

This cultural training has been developed to target qualified Pacific practitioners such as social workers, counsellors (etc), and non-pacific people, either working specifically with Pacific families in the area of family violence or who are working with Pacific families and deal with family violence incidences or support as part of their wider work.

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