In a Maori society children are considered tapu (sacred) because they are the gifts that come directly from the Atua (Gods). So precious and fragile when they enter this world, they possess their own mana (spiritual power) which comes in the form of ihi, wehi and wana - vital essence, awe and exhilaration. This spiritual power is inherited from the many Atua. We can see this through their actions and behaviours in the Creation story, which outlines the basis for this mana, as well as Whakapapa Maori (genealogy) and the model for Whanau (family) living. When the many Atua offspring came into the world of light, they began to explore and experiment with their new surroundings. They had the freedom to grow and expand as they pleased.
From this sense of freedom and wonder we can see the importance of offering children the right space and conditions to grow. They are given the opportunities to shine in their own Spirit and to discover their own unique place in the world.
(Excerpt from NIU - He Tangata Matauhi, Voices of our Ancestors)