background information

Good Practice Guidelines for ‘mainstream’ sexual violence crisis support services - Working with Maori survivors of sexual violence (Te Wiata & Smith, 2016)


  • Sexual violence against Māori affects not just Māori individuals, but also the wellbeing of whānauhapū and iwi. 
  • Healing is a priority and relates to ‘whānau ora’ (whole of whānau wellbeing).  Taking a ‘whānau ora’ approach to working with Māori centralizes whānau involvement and whānau healing.  
  • There can be obstacles to whānau healing; these can be overcome, and alternative positive pathways forward can be forged when strong abilities in Māori cultural competence are present.  
  • Engagement with kaumātua brings significant benefits for Māori, particularly in providing wisdom for healing and oversight of processes. Kaumātua can also facilitate safe relationships, networking, and connections with mana whenua (the ‘home people’/guardians of a particular area).  The term kaumātua refers to both male and female elders, however female elders are also sometimes referred to as ‘kuia’. 
  • Services will be enhanced by having an understanding of, and respect for Māori processes such as powhiri (a process of meeting in a way which acknowledges each person’s mana and tapu), whakawhanaungatanga (connecting in a meaningful way), and ‘hohourongo’ (a conflict resolution process).  Understanding the value of positive reconnection to whānauhāpu and iwi for Māori is also important. 
  • Quality service delivery for Māori includes all of the above, relying heavily on a workforce that is culturally competent with Māori and, in the case of Tauiwi services, is also committed to working in true partnership with Māori.  

Essential Learning - What we need to know

Essential Practice - What we need to do

On the frontline

  • Cultural support and engagement:   
    • Engagement with individuals (kaumatua, Māori clinicians), groups (Nga Kaitiaki Mauri, TOAH-NNEST) and Kaupapa Maori services who can support the delivery of culturally appropriate and relevant services for Māori will enhance all services.  
  • Cultural competence for non-Māori practitioners includes: 
    • Acknowledging the limitations as non-Māori to work with Māori which can result from operating from a different worldview and having different lived experiences. For example, it is important for non-Māori to develop understanding and skills for working with the ongoing realities of the impacts of colonisation on Māori as tangata whenua. 
    • Accepting the validity of differing worldviews and the validity of differing therapeutic approaches and practices that arise from Te Ao Māori (a Māori worldview), recognising that cultural practices can be valid clinical interventions.  
    • Understanding the importance of accessing kaumātua/tohunga as healers and sources of wisdom for service guidance roles (for example, Board/Clinical Direction), and cultural supervision with Māori.  

Crisis support services

  • Inter-service relationship development:  

Ongoing development of Te Tiriti partnership and relationship between mainstream and Māori services is a priority. Te Tiriti partnership with Māori would be demonstrated by: 

  • All requests for services by Māori that are received by mainstream services will in the first instance be referred to local Kaupapa Māori sexual violence services.  Support will be provided for Māori to access these services. 
  • Where there are no Kaupapa Māori services available, or there is limited capacity, it may be possible to refer Māori to another Māori therapist in the community who is confident and capable of working with survivors of sexual violence.  The reality of limited Māori capacity is also a prompt for mainstream services to advocate for more funding for Kaupapa Māori sexual violence services. 
    • Respectful working relationships will be developed with local hapū/iwi services and Kaupapa Māori services to ensure appropriate access to kaumātua and encourage genuine participation at all levels of service delivery. 
    • Continued development in cultural competency will be promoted. This is particularly relevant at present while the capacity of Kaupapa Māori services is still limited (and needing to increase).  Developments in cultural competency can be facilitated by regular cultural supervision, for example meeting monthly to identify the work with Māori survivors and obtaining specialist cultural input. 
    • Policies and funding contracts would reflect that when working with Māori whānau, whānau ora is promoted above other bodies of thought such as feminist ideals that exclude tāne within survivor services.  For example, tāne would be included in healing pathways for whānau.  


  • Accessing Māori expertise:  

Engaging with Kaumatua and local iwi must be a priority, with guidance in this process sought from local kaupapa Māori sexual violence support services. Developing a Tiriti partnership could facilitate the development of a ‘Contact List’ which would provide information about who could be accessed by Tauiwi services to support the process of ensuring suitable tautoko (support) for, and treatment of, Māori seeking support: 

  • The list would be developed in partnership with local Kaupapa Māori sexual violence support services or other Māori/iwi services where Kaupapa Māori sexual violence services do not currently exist. 
  • Kaumātua should not be consulted in isolation but should have the support of the expertise of Kaupapa Māori sexual violence service practitioners to support them in their roles; advice from these kaumātua should be respected. 
  • Kaumatua should be recompensed, such as through payment or koha that is commensurate with the highly specialised knowledge and experience they bring to their roles. 


  • Workforce development: 
    • The overall priority for workforce development should be to support Kaupapa Māori Service development. The workforce development priority within mainstream services should be on continual development of cultural competence.  
    • Upskilling Māori practitioners to increase capacity and capability to work with Māori by: 
    • Increasing proficiency in te reo Māori me ona tikanga 
    • Accessing and developing proficiency/training in culturally specific resources, such as those developed by ‘Te Whānau o Te Kakano’ and other kaupapa Māori services 
    • Where mainstream intervention models are used, actively seek cultural supervision to increase proficiency in blending these with Māori approaches and delivering them within a framework based on tikanga and values that fit with Te Ao Māori. 
    • Accessing supervision with other Māori in the field (including kaumātua) who can support continuing development. 
    • Promoting the involvement of tāne in service delivery by inviting and encouraging Māori men to train to work in this area (having a workforce development plan for tāne specifically).  
    • Funding for mobile services to assist with service delivery as well as to provide training/workforce development. 

Sector development

The Report of the Taskforce for Action on Sexual Violence (2009)  recommendation 11c (p.4), supported by TOAH-NNEST, supports the investment in Mäori/whänau-led solutions informed by Te Ohaakii a Hine as a prevention model for tangata whenua.  

This includes actively advocating for: 

  • Better resourcing for Kaupapa Māori Services. There is currently a dearth of Kaupapa Māori sexual violence services throughout Aotearoa NZ.  This is largely due to funding constraints across the whole of the sexual violence sector and also supported by Government policy to rationalise funding streams.   
  • Promoting support for Māori by Māori who are cognisant with Māori tikanga and values to assist them to navigate a pathway forward with Police, the Courts, statutory and medical organisations, and any other support services.  
  • Ensuring Kaupapa Māori processes such as hohourongo (Māori conflict resolution process) can be accessed and recognised, as opposed to only Tauiwi restorative justice processes.  
  • Relationship building with Māori services and the Māori community that is genuine and meaningful to both parties. Relationship building must not be dependent on current service delivery to Māori clients.  Confining pro-active relationship building with the Māori community to times of crisis would be akin to tokenism. 
  • Supporting the development of a separate set of Good Practice Guidelines for Kaupapa Māori Sexual Violence services providing crisis support. 
  • Ensuring that Good Practice Guidelines for mainstream services working with Māori are consistent with these Good Practice Guidelines for Kaupapa Māori Sexual Violence services providing crisis support. 

Relevant References - other related research

Enhancing cultural competence 

Milne, M. (2010). He rongoa kei te korero. Talking therapies for Maori: Wise practice guide for mental health and addiction services. Auckland: Te Pou o Te Whakaaro Nui. 

Other related research 

Aldridge, Nuki. (2012). Through maori eyes. In Ngapuhi Speaks: He Wakaputanga o te Rangatiratanga o Nu 

Tireni and Te Tiriti o Waitangi Independent Report on Ngapuhi Nui Tonu Claim (pp xi-xii). Te Kawariki & Network Waitangi Whangarei (Inc).  

Durie, M. (1994). Whaiora: Maori health development. Auckland: Oxford.  

Durie, M. (2003). Nga kahui pou: Launching Maori futures. Wellington: Huia.  

Durie, M. (2005, May). Indigenous health reforms: Best health outcomes for Maori in New Zealand. Paper presented at the Alberta Symposium on Health, Unleashing Innovation in Health Care, Alberta, Canada. Retrieved from Publications%20%20Mason/M%20Durie%20Indigenous%20Health%20reforms%20Best%20Health%20outcomes%20for%20Maori%20in%20New%20Zealand.pdf?8D669ABBF3E26A2D11D67B8D01C9AE4C 

Fanslow, J.L., Robinson, E.M., Crengle, S., & Perese, L. (2007). Prevalence of child sexual abuse reported by a cross-sectional sample of New Zealand women. Child Abuse & Neglect, 31(9), 935-945. Retrieved from 

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Jansen, P., Bacal, K. and Crengle, S. (2009). He Ritenga Whakaaro: Maori experiences of health services.  Auckland: Mauri Ora Associates.  

Kawahru, I.H. (Ed.). (1989). Waitangi, Maori and Pakeha Perspectives of the Treaty of Waitangi. Auckland: Oxford University Press. 

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Milne, M. (2010). He rongoa kei te korero. Talking therapies for Maori: Wise practice guide for mental health and addiction services. Auckland: Te Pou o Te Whakaaro Nui. 

Milne, M. (2005). Maori perspectives on kaupapa Maori and psychology: A Discussion document. (A report for the 

New Zealand Psychologists Board. New Zealand Psychologists Board). Auckland, New Zealand. 

Ministry of Justice. 2009. Te Toiora Mata Tauherenga: Report of the taskforce for action on sexual violence.Wellington: Ministry of Justice.  

Ministry of Women’s Affairs. 2012. Lightning Does Strike Twice: preventing sexual revictimisationWellington: Ministry of Women’s Affairs. 

Nga Kaitiaki Mauri, Te Ohaaki a Hine – National Network for Ending Sexual Violence Together. (2010).  

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Nikora, L. W. (2007). Maori and psychology: Indigenous psychology in New Zealand. Hamilton, New Zealand: University of Waikato. 

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New Zealand Association of Counsellors Conference, Hamilton, New Zealand. 

Szazy, M., Rogers, A. & Simpson, M. (Eds.). (1993). Te TimatangaTatauTatau. p xiii). Wellington: Bridget Williams Books. 

Te Puni Kokiri. (2008). Tiaki Tinana: A case study on creating conversations about sexual violence. Wellington,  New Zealand: Te Puni Kokiri. 

 Te Puni Kokiri. (2009). National Stocktake of Kaupapa and Tikanga Maori Services in Crisis Intervention, Long Term Recovery and Care for Sexual Violence. Wellington, New Zealand. Sienna Hamilton-Katene. 

Te Puni Kokiri. (2009a). Te Puawaitanga o te Kakano: A Background Paper Report. Wellington, New Zealand:  Maori and Indigenous Analysis. 

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