What could manaaki look like in virtual spaces?

As lecturers, our relationships with students were once primarily determined by the physical learning spaces of lecture theatres, studios, labs, and classrooms. Now, our learning spaces increasingly include virtual learning environments and this can create certain challenges and considerations.  

Adopting manaaki as a measure of good teaching practice repositions education from the site of the university to the site of the home; and at the heart of the home is whānau (family) and whanaungatanga (relationships). Manaaki is the measures of the host’s ability to provide the necessary resources and hospitality to care for the needs of their guests. Manaaki is also the measure of the guest in their behaviour to respect the kawa (protocols) of the home.


Ako (Māori pedagogies) and hauora (wellbeing) practices focus on the social and emotional growth of the students. Both, highlight the pivotal role whakawhanaungatanga (building respectful relationships) has in creating a safe and open learning environments and experiences for both the students and lecturer (Education Review Office, 2016; Edutopia, 2019; Imad, 2020; Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand, n.d.).

Intentionally building whanaungatanga into your teaching leads to students sense of belonging, and it also provides opportunities for learning between students; where they can become the teacher sharing their sense-and meaning-making from their reality.

Five Top Tips

Reflecting on the above case of the lecturer hosting the learning and being a guest in the physical environment can require the lecturer to demonstrate their ability to be a good guest, or a good student in varying context/homes.

  1. Manaaki – Closely consider the engagement and the progress of your students.  Formative assessments can be used to gauge students’ progress and can also your delivery. For example, if students are struggling to contribute weekly posts, are they needing support? Talk with students on how they are coping.

  2. Mana aki – Being uplifting and empowering. Use evaluation of your teaching to take the stress off students and their learning and let them provide constructive feedback on your pace, the clarity, relevance and delivery. Are they able to create meaning from your teaching?

  3. Mana ā kī – Being mindful of how we communicate. Dame Whina Cooper captures this in her whakatauakī (https://images.app.goo.gl/vZTGeK1PHEo5GCrh6)

  4. Whakawhanaungatanga – Establishing and maintaining respectful reciprocal relationship with a long-term-to-forever focus. Design your sessions for students to work in groups. This cultivates collective and community responsibility for the wellbeing of each other. This is the foundation to creating a sense of belonging.

  5. Manaaki is a fundamental value and principle for Māori, and is how we measure the mana, prosperity and wellbeing, of a community. It is the expression of aroha, tika and pono.

Useful Resources

Manaaki is being cultivated everywhere in our communities. Here are a few examples:

Challenging a measured university from an indigenous perspective: Placing ‘manaaki’ at the heart of our professional development programme. (Buissink et al., 2017)


Buissink, N., Diamond, P., Hallas, J., Swann, J., & Sciascia, A. D. (2017). Challenging a measured university from an indigenous perspective: Placing ‘manaaki’ at the heart of our professional development programme. Higher Education Research & Development, 36(3), 569–582. https://doi.org/10.1080/07294360.2017.1288706

Edutopia. (2019, January 14). Getting started with trauma-informed practices [Educational Mental Health]. Edutopia. https://www.edutopia.org/video/getting-started-trauma-informed-practices

Imad, M. (2020, June 3). Leveraging the neuroscience of now. Inside Higher Ed. https://www.insidehighered.com/advice/2020/06/03/seven-recommendations-helping-students-thrive-times-trauma

Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand. (n.d.). Connect: Me whakawhanaunga. Mental Health Foundation: Mauri Tū, Mauiri Ora. http://www.mentalhealth.org.nz/home/ways-to-wellbeing/connect-whakawhanuangatanga/

New Zealand Qualification Authority. (2013, April). Manaaki marae – Marae hospitality qualification review. Needs Analysis [Education]. Mandatory Review of Manaaki Marae: Marae Hospitality Qualification. http://www.nzqa.govt.nz/assets/qualifications-and-standards/qualifications/ManaakiMarae/May-2014-Prov-to-List/Manaaki-Marae-Needs-Analysis.pdf