Whakapapa/How Te Ara Whakamana: The Mana Enhancement Model came to be

Te Ara Whakamana:ME had its earliest beginnings in New Zealand Education when in 2007, a Resource Teacher of Learning and Behaviour, Nigel Marshall, began thinking hard about how to address the growing problem of managing extreme behaviour in schools, and the striking over representation of Māori students in this area. Whatever resources and training that were currently available to schools weren't working and daily reports of violent incidents in the media were creating a culture of fear. Nigel decided to gather his thoughts on managing behaviour into a thesis paper for his Masters Degree in Educational Psychology. 

Several key concerns stood out at the time.
  • Almost every guideline on managing extreme behaviour was based on overseas models 
  • Few had a cultural content that even vaguely fitted or was appropriate for Māori (often multi-cultural add ons)
  • Specialist knowledge and application was often required (e.g: martial arts/self defense training in holds and blocks) 
  • Designing effective and holistic tools for measuring outcomes was problematic (most studies were too specialised to contain meaningful data)
Nigel gathered a think tank of knowledgeable friends and colleagues;  Māori and Pakeha (non-Māori) elders, behaviour specialists, educationalists, counselors, restorative justice practitioners, social and community workers*, and began to work on a model that would resonate with Māori students and their whānau (families), allow for respectful relationships to develop and ultimately real and sustainable solutions to the problem to emerge. Four years later, a model that actually worked for Māori, yet also powerfully resonated with people from every other culture dawned and the movement that is now known as Te Ara Whakamana: The Mana Enhancement Model had begun.

'Continuous improvement may not always be the right answer.... there are times when more significant and more rapid change is required... when revolutions are needed' - Lawrence M Miller

So, what is Te Ara Whakamana: Mana Enhancement and How does it work?

Te Ara Whakamana: The Mana Enhancement Model
Te Ara Whakamana: ME is a circular framework that uses colour, imagery, narrative and cultural metaphors as powerful tools to connect individuals to their Mana, their sources of strength, and their world. It is a tool that develops rapport, a fundamental requirement for positive communication.  Te Ara Whakamana: ME moves us back to the richness and power of imagery, stories of our origins, of archetypes and super heroes, of amazing adventures, actions and deeds, of overcoming great adversity. Stories passed down to us by our mothers and fathers, our aunts and uncles, our grandparents and from our revered ancestors. Myths and legends, fables and parables, sayings and proverbs have been used through the ages in this way to illustrate instructive lessons or principles for living well on this earth.

'The most valuable skills to possess as we advance into the 21st century are those of deep human interaction: relationship building, deep listening, empathy, connecting with others, cultural sensitivity and collaborating' Debbie Schultz

Through the process of co-construction, Te Ara Whakamana:  ME provides a culturally centred framework for a strengths-based conversation that explores the way in which we face and respond to life’s challenges. A person's mana, (core value, prestige, authority, control, power, pride, influence, status, spiritual power, talents, uniqueness, charisma etc), and the mana of the family, becomes the focus point from which all actions and deeds are measured. 

'Every super hero has an origin story. So do you. Don't follow someone else's. 
Create your own masterpiece' - Oliver Uberti

The inquiry based approach of each segment in the framework makes provision for early recognition, self-knowledge, emotional literacy and the opportunity to do something differently, in a new, mana enhancing and sustainable way, to manage crisis escalation at an early stage. The emergent plan can then be shared with all supporting whanau members, community support workers and social service agents alike.

'Frame your problem in the form of a question. Our brain loves questions. If the question is powerful and engaging, our brains will do everything within their reach to answer it. We just can’t help it: Our brains will start working on the problem immediately and keep working in the background, even when we’re not aware of it' - Albert Einstein

The model becomes a therapeutic reference point from which to set future goals, self monitor, measure progress and outcomes and collect and analyse data, all from a strengths perspective. Analysis of the model accommodates the views of the individual and their whānau alongside the professional's, giving Dynamic Data**, i.e, in depth and meaningful triangulated data, to provide a measurement of outcomes from an holistic perspective.

'Self-disclosure can have positive effects on everything from the most basic of needs — physical survival to personal growth through enhanced self-knowledge; self-disclosure, like other forms of communication,seems to be adaptive' - Adrian F Ward

The Power and Spirituality of Creation Stories
Creation stories exist to provide societies with wise messages, examples and instructions for living harmoniously with all things on the earth. They provide ancient and eternal values that concentrate on placing a story in people's minds to allow a perspective on what is happening in their own life.  Being able to tell these stories not only meaningfully connects individuals, their families and their communities but also positively enhances professional practice. By articulating and making explicit relationships, rapport is strengthened and becomes a powerful agent of change. Rapport has long been acknowledged as a critical factor in deep learning and behaviour change.

'Myths are clues to our deepest spiritual potential, able to lead us to delight, illumination, and even rapture' Joseph Campbell

Te Ara Whakamana: The Mana Enhancement Model and Kaupapa Māori practice
Kaupapa Māori (cultural philosophies and practices) models seek to encourage whole of whānau approaches to problems which hold individuals to account outside of the punitive model. This cultural healing pathway explores and reconnects Māori to their spiritual, physical, emotional and family origins of well being wherein lie deeply powerful and transformative components. Kaupapa Māori approaches, formulated and delivered ' for, by and to Māori' where Māori thinking, values, relationships, knowledge, language, stories and songs, protocols and world views and their relationship to today's environment form the basis of engagement, are considered best practice when working with Māori. Te Ara Whakamana: ME provides a powerful tool from which to deliver a Kaupapa Māori response.

Te Ara Whakamana: The Mana Enhancement Model and other Cultures
This holistic approach is sound practice and is effective with other cultures and groups as the importance of empowering families from strength based socio-cultural constructs and building capacity is at the heart of the approach. While Te Ara Whakamana: ME applies the Māori creation story as an appropriate conceptual framework for working with whānau and their communities, the framework is open to other belief systems and cultures to ensure resonance and ownership.  In order to work to its optimum effectiveness, the model must come from and reflect the whole person, their values and the people around them who they identify as best placed to help them. No matter the culture or belief system, by encouraging and affirming individual perspectives in that culture or belief system, the uniqueness of the individual is encouraged and affirmed allowing a deep connection to self. 

'Your worldview -- anyone's worldview -- is too important to ignore' - Ken Funk,  2001

Restorative Practice and a Model of Practice

Te Ara Whakamana: ME opens the opportunity for restorative practice. Empowering people through enhancing Mana facilitates a pathway to seeing other perspectives which aids in the important development of empathy and compassion.  For Restorative purposes, perceptions of the offender's ability to understand the scope and impact on the victim of the offence, and the importance of reform is a significant factor.   With Te Ara Whakamana:  ME,  participants feel understood and empowered to better manage and take ownership of their emotions. They are supported to make self identified changes and any reparations that may be necessary.  Te Ara Whakamana: ME is a contributive tool for Restorative Practitioners as all who are involved; victims, offenders and their whanau/families can, in a timely way, participate in, better understand and be empowered by the purpose and aims of the restorative justice process.
'Many people wait throughout their whole lives for the chance to be good' - Friedrich Nietzsche - 1844 - 1900

As a professional tool, Te Ara Whakamana: ME provides schools, agencies, organisations and institutions with a simple and highly effective Model of Practice for positive behaviour change. The positive exchange experienced between participants using Te Ara Whakamana: ME helps reduce workplace burnout, even when working with very challenging behaviours. When combined with peer support and supervision, this positivism can increase motivation and job satisfaction creating the space for the dynamic advancement of professional practice to occur. The accompanying Measuring Outcomes Tool and Progress Charts are designed to provide the information required to show efficacy of the model and that of the practitioner.

'Working positively changes the way workers feel about themselves and their jobs... and reduces the likelihood of burnout' 
Marshall, Marshall, Serran and O'Brien, 2011

Te Ara Whakamana: The Mana Enhancement Model can be applied in a diverse range of settings to create a Community of Practice; a collaborative, mana-enhancing response that can powerfully resonate with whole communities.

To see their greatness, 
to notice their strengths, 
to value their gifts, 
to believe in their worth, 
to grow their potential

…is to enhance their Mana

** Dynamic Data - Refers to the type of data that, due to the inclusion of key participants (individuals, their families and practitioners) is more likely to uncover important aspects which otherwise may have been neglected or overlooked.  The process of gathering qualitative and quantitative data in each segment of the model becomes an intervention in itself as people experience, understand, share and articulate their responses and explore mana enhancing strategies to problems.