Te Aka Mātua – Basic Drug Information for Mātua and Concerned Whānau

Te Whare Tukutuku


Te Aka Mātua refers to the parent vine that Tāwhaki and his brother used to climb up to the heavens. He and his brother, Karihi, locate their grandmother Whaitiri who is looking after the vines at the bottom of the stairway. Karihi in haste attempts to climb the vines immediately, but grabs the aka taepa, or weaker hanging vine. The gusts of the heaven whirl him about furiously, and he falls to his death. His brother Tāwhaki follows his grandmother Whaitiri’s instruction to stay close to the aka mātua, or parent vine. He adheres to her recommendation and arrives safely in the heavens, where he obtains the three baskets of knowledge. (Note: There are other variations to the story of Tāwhaki and this is one given by
Takurua Tawera)

The name of this booklet “Te Aka Mātua” in our context is a whakatūpato! To learn from the old, be guided by your grandparents, to keep striving for knowledge. The booklet has therefore been designed with Mātua, Taua and Pōua in mind, to awhi, support, and educate whānau members concerned with a loved one’s drug use. (Note: Some content has been adapted and reproduced from Information and Support Pack for Aboriginal Parents and Families’, copyright Government of Western Australia Mental Health Commission, 2016.)