Your cultural identity

Learning about where you are from and your cultural identity – your whakapapa – can give you a sense of belonging, and help you connect to whānau, your hapu and iwi.

Learning about your whakapapa can give you a deeper understanding of who you are. Whakapapa is like genealogy but also connects us to both the land and people.

Below we share a few tips of our own about how you can begin your journey of finding out about your whakapapa.

Don’t be afraid to ask someone for help or advice, and most of all enjoy the journey!

Start with your last name or your parents’ last names 

Try and find out where your name came from by asking whānau or looking at records, such as books, birth certificates and genealogy records.

The best way to find out is to ask 

Kaumatua and kuia also have some awesome knowledge on whakapapa, and love nothing more than to share it with our generation. They can also give you a deeper guidance and understanding of whakapapa. Asking someone in your whānau may be helpful, or maybe a friend or someone else in your community, hapu, iwi or even at school.

Your pepeha

This is a well-known set of versus that describe your whakapapa. It is a great place to start if you are keen to learn more about yourself and your whakapapa.

Pepeha is a way to introduce yourself in Māori that links you to your ancestors by sharing which marae, hapu (sub tribe) and iwi (tribe) you are from, and the name of the maunga (mountain) and awa (river) that you connect to. Below is an example of what our Real Lakes team use with young people (rangatahi) they support.

Pepeha example

A simple pepeha is a great way to start. Just try your best to fill in what you can, and don’t be shy to ask others for help.

Ko ____________ te waka / The waka that I affiliate to is ____________________________ 
Ko ____________ te maunga / The mountain that I affiliate to is _______________________
Ko ____________ te awa/roto/moana / The river/lake/sea that I affiliate to is ______________
Ko ____________ te marae / My marae is _______________________________________ 
Ko ____________ te iwi / My tribe is ____________________________________________
Ko ____________ te hapu / My sub-tribe is _______________________________________
Ko ____________ toku ingoa / My name is _______________________________________

Take a course!

There are some awesome free courses in te reo out there which can also help you to understand basic kupu (words), waiata (songs) and karakia (prayer). They may also help you find out about your whakapapa.


Published: 15 August 2014