Mead states that tikanga Maori is judged, evaluated and assessed by values and principles rather than by adherence to strict rules and regulations (Mead 27). Mead gives examples of a range of values and principles which can be used in assessment of cultural integrity, one of which is mana.
Mana comes from “who you are, where you come from and your connection to the land.” (TEDx Talks). Mead outlines three different sources of mana – ‘mana tipuna’, drawn from ancestors; ‘mana tangata’, attained through the works and skills of an individual; and the rarer ‘mana Atua’, the claim of divine right through connection to the gods (Mead 29).
An example of mana can be seen in the tikanga of the powhiri, in particular the whaikorero.
As explained by Higgins and Moorfield, the whaikorero incorporates various elements displaying the skill of the kaikorero, such as reference to geographical and historical places of importance to both manuwhiri and tangata whenua; acknowledgement of the dead and the living; and recitation of appropriate whakapapa (Higgins and Moorfield 81). These points when addressed properly exhibit the depth of knowledge of language and culture, displaying the skills of the orator and awarding him with mana for himself and his people. The people on whose behalf the kaikorero speaks will then show their support of his address through waiata, making known to all present that he has spoken with the mana of his people in mind.
Higgins, R. Moorfield, J. “Nga Tikanga o te Marae.” Ki te Whaio: An Intorduction to Maori Culture and Society, Auckland: Pearson Education New Zealand Limited, 2004, 73-84
Mead, H. “Nga Putake o te Tikanga – Underlying Principles and Values.” Tikanga Maori: Living by Maori Values, NZ: Huia, 2003, 25-33.
TEDx Talks. “Mana: The power in knowing who you are | Tame Iti | TEDxAuckland.” YouTube, TEDx Talks, June 17 2015, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qeK3SkxrZRI