Safer Whānau

Tiaki Tinana : A case study on creating conversations about sexual violence

Te Puni Kōkiri recently completed the Tiaki Tinana report to create awareness of sexual violence within Māori communities. This report will be used as a guide to better inform future policy and investment decisions. This fact sheet presents a summary of the Tiaki Tinana report. The full report can be found at


In 2006 the Tiaki Tinana programme was established as a Māori response to sexual offending against children and young people. Tiaki Tinana seeks to inform health promotion to prevent sexual violence within Māori communities. It is delivered within a kaupapa Māori framework by Rape Prevention Education, Auckland.

The primary aim of Tiaki Tinana has been to raise awareness of sexual violence within Māori communities, and to create a dialogue among community leaders as well as within whānau, hapū and iwi about practical, everyday ways of incorporating sexual violence prevention strategies.

The high rates of child and adult sexual abuse experienced by Māori highlight the need for a sexual violence prevention programme developed specifically by Māori clinical specialists who work in this field. Educators who are Māori and who have extensive clinical experience, provide a uniquely Māori clinical lens.

A report about the programme outlines a model of sexual violence prevention which is delivered from a kaupapa Māori framework. The Tiaki Tinana report describes an overview of the content, framework and rationale that forms the basis of this programme. The central message of Tiaki Tinana is that prevention of sexual abuse in all communities is achievable. Awareness and the adoption of simple prevention strategies can result in the minimisation of harm and the prevention of sexual abuse and sexual offending against children and young people.

Tiaki Tinana

As a Māori-specific programme, Tiaki Tinana recognises that Māori have their own values system. To address this difference, Māori clinical and cultural knowledge feature in the design and response strategy. The topic of sexual violence is sensitive to most communities. To enable Māori to feel relatively safe and comfortable enough to listen to the messages within the Tiaki Tinana programme requires a kaupapa Māori framework. It is essential that those who deliver this programme are relatively fluent in te reo and are able to facilitate Māori cultural practices and protocols such as whakawhanaungatanga.

The Tiaki Tinana programme addresses the need for a preventative effort specifically designed by Māori clinical and cultural professionals for use within Māori communities. Tiaki Tinana utilises knowledge and experience from the fields of rape prevention education, survivor services, sexual offender treatment and Māori clinical practice. Māori clinical practice refers to the application of both Māori cultural and clinical knowledge within the sexual violence sector.

Tiaki Tinana aims to educate and support whānau on how to:

  • empower their community to prevent the sexual abuse of children by raising awareness of the issue and providing access to education and resources;
  • minimise opportunities for offending within the whānau environment through knowledge of biological, situational, and environmental factors that contribute to offending behaviour; and
  • deal effectively and safely with disclosures of abuse from survivors as well as offenders.

The Team

The Tiaki Tinana project has developed a core mobile education team that includes Russell Smith (Project Manager and Key Presenter), Kate Butterfield (Research and Administrative Support), Waitangi Wood (Communications Manager) and Dr Kim McGregor (Director of Rape Prevention Education providing research and project support). Tiaki Tinana maintains a wide network within the sexual violence prevention and intervention sector and Māori community representatives. This network continues to grow as the Tiaki Tinana project expands.

Creating the Conversation

The Tiaki Tinana report encourages talk about sexual violence. Tiaki Tinana set out to seek experts within the field of sexual violence services and formed a steering group to guide the development of the project. This process was an important foundational step in developing effective relationships within Māori communities. Without this process the key messages in the education programme would not hold the mana required for this important and sensitive kaupapa. The process of setting up a Reference Roopu and meeting with the community to introduce the concept of Tiaki Tinana took approximately 12 months and was crucial to the integrity of the project.

Pilot Tiaki Tinana workshops have been delivered throughout the Waikato, wider Auckland area and Northland/ Far North regions. In the past year the Tiaki Tinana project has continued to develop relationships with mana whenua and marae and has continued to meet with the Reference Roopu to ensure the continued integrity of its work with Māori communities. The Reference Roopu has contributed to research initiatives that informed sector activity.

Using a unique integrated kaupapa Māori approach and down to earth practical information and examples, Tiaki Tinana’s sexual violence prevention strategies help to create a safe community environment and increase whānau wellbeing. These strategies also have the potential to enhance individual, collective and intergenerational knowledge and empowerment.

Ultimately, by disseminating prevention knowledge throughout whānau, hapū and iwi communities, it is hoped that the incidence of sexual abuse and offending behaviour will decrease, allowing for greater health and wellbeing for all.

Tiaki Tinana has grown through strong community involvement at all stages of development. This has fostered empowerment, ownership of the prevention knowledge and the resulting positive community change.

This report provides information on how Tiaki Tinana has provided effective prevention education within Māori communities, and why this material has, reportedly, been of value to its recipients.

As a programme, Tiaki Tinana has been successful due to it addressing issues such as:

  • The need for a kaupapa Māori framework to deliver sexual violence prevention education

    Without a kaupapa Māori approach the key messages in the education programme would not hold the mana required to support this important and sensitive kaupapa.

    Whakawhanaungatanga is vital at the beginning of each Tiaki Tinana presentation. To deliver sensitive and potentially emotive material it is important to communicate a sense of safety and belonging.

    Sensitivity to emotional responses is an important aspect of Tiaki Tinana’s values. The ability to manaaki the process of holding difficult emotions (such as whakamā) with respect is part of the Māori world view used to process sensitive information.
  • Translating complex clinical information into everyday language

    The prevention information and strategies of Tiaki Tinana are formed by clinical experience and a strong base of academic and clinical research on sexual abuse, sexual offending and sexual violence prevention. Tiaki Tinana translates and adapts the findings of this research into everyday language and practice which can be understood by everyone and applied to everyday whānau experiences and actions.
  • Prevention opportunities in everyday whānau environments

    A primary aim of the programme is to heighten awareness about sexual violence prevention opportunities that are able to be applied in everyday environments.

    Presenters engage their audiences of whānau and hapū by validating and adding to the knowledge the audience already has. Every day practical opportunities to incorporate prevention strategies are discussed (for example child care practices) in ways that allow whānau and hapū to increase whānau safety and wellbeing.
  • How offending behaviour can develop

    The initiative to offend is not something that occurs overnight – it’s a continuum of behaviour. People do not wake up one day with the motive to sexually offend. Much of the behaviour arises out of situations that present opportunities to offend sexually – often as a young person. If this behaviour goes unchecked and unchallenged then it allows the possibility for re- offending to occur in the future.

    Given that opportunistic offending is more common than predatory offending, it is important to be aware of situations and environments where the opportunity to offend exists. Opportunistic offending may become entrenched if this behaviour goes unchecked.
  • The targeting and tailoring of messages to achieve maximum effect

    Given that most offending begins in teenage years, disseminating prevention education amongst young people is likely to reduce the overall incidence of sexual abuse. Targeting this age group and caregivers of this age group is a priority.
  • Highly emotive responses to child sex offenders

    Participants are encouraged to reflect that as society continues to hold highly emotive, violent and destructive constructs about dealing with sexual offenders, it is less likely these offenders will seek help and access treatment to address their abusive behaviours.


It is essential that the people who work with whānau and hapū are able to relate to Māori stakeholders and Māori cultural values. Tiaki Tinana has integrated a kaupapa Māori approach with specialist expertise to work with survivors, perpetrators and their whānau. This work could not be delivered without ensuring a well-trained and resourced workforce.

The success of the Tiaki Tinana project is determined by the specialisation of its workforce and the education and resources that specifically address the issues of sexual violence for whānau and hapū. This, coupled with a Māori world lens ensures that Māori are engaged in developing their own strategies which affect whānau ora. It is envisaged that Tiaki Tinana will continue to support the health and wellbeing of Māori communities by preventing sexual violence occurring and providing considered and cultural appropriate response to survivors, offenders and whānau.

Tiaki Tinana delivers health promotion and sexual prevention education that reinforces whānau ora, with the intention to improve Māori health and wellbeing. Tiaki Tinana provides a model of engagement with Māori aimed at preventing sexual violence and abuse in Māori communities. The Tiaki Tinana report aims to raise awareness and highlight further possibilities for ongoing development and accessibility to services, resources and education.