Grandfathers pp 105-124 | Cite as

Maori Grandfathers in Aotearoa (New Zealand)

  • Judith DaveyEmail author
  • Cherryl Smith
Part of the Palgrave Macmillan Studies in Family and Intimate Life book series (PSFL)


Maori society in Aotearoa, the Maori name for New Zealand, is organized on the basis of tribes and extended families (whanau). Where whanau continue to be strong, they exhibit shared parenting and strong relationships between grandchildren and grandparents. Traditional grandparenting roles can be harder to maintain in the modern context, with the influences of urbanization, migration and reduced co-residence. Nevertheless, Maori grandfathers speak proudly of their tribal heritage and ancestry. They emphasize their roles of protecting and passing on traditional knowledge and maintaining intergenerational continuity. Where necessary, grandparents may take over the raising of grandchildren considered to be at risk. The New Zealand Children, Young Persons and their Families Act (1989) was strongly influenced by traditional Maori concepts of whanau and collective responsibility for children.


Maori culture Intergenerational relationships Grandparenting 



The authors wish to thank Professor Chris Cunningham, Director of Te Pumanawa Hauora, Research Centre for Maori Health and Development, Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand, for his helpful comments on the draft chapter. In addition to the material collected by Cherryl Smith in her own research (Smith 2010), four Maori grandfathers participated in informal discussions with us in mid-March 2015. These four are referred to by pseudonyms. Informed verbal consent was obtained before the start of the discussions.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Governance and Policy StudiesVictoria University of WellingtonWellingtonNew Zealand
  2. 2.Te Atawhai O Te Ao: Independent Maori Research Institute for Environment and HealthWhanganuiNew Zealand

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