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.'

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How to cite this page:

Tai Walker, 'Whānau – Māori and family - Contemporary understandings of whānau', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/artwork/30144/te-waiata-o-te-harakeke (accessed 20 October 2017)

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