Story: Whānau – Māori and family

'Te waiata o te harakeke'

'Te waiata o te harakeke'

This artwork by Toi Te Rito Maihi, 'Te waiata o te harakeke', was used on the cover of anthropologist Joan Metge's book, New growth from old: the whanau in the modern world. Metge explained the symbolism of the harakeke (flax bush) as: 'a favourite Māori metaphor for the whānau. A flax bush is made up of a number of fans in which each new blade emerges between two larger blades, a child protected by parents, and the roots of the fans are so intertwined that they stand or fall together as one.'

Using this item

Private collection

This item has been provided for private study purposes (such as school projects, family and local history research) and any published reproduction (print or electronic) may infringe copyright law. It is the responsibility of the user of any material to obtain clearance from the copyright holder.

All images & media in this story

How to cite this page:

Tai Walker, 'Whānau – Māori and family - Contemporary understandings of whānau', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 6 December 2023)

Story by Tai Walker, published 5 May 2011, updated 1 Jun 2017