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Principle 4: Wairua & Mauri

Principle 4: Clear purpose and action. This principle includes ngā tikanga Wairua (spirit or soul of a person) and Mauri (life principle or force).

Wairua | Spirit or soul of a person

He whakamārama | Meaning

Te taha kiko kore o te tangata e mau ana ngā kare ā-roto, te taha e kore e mate ahakoa mate atu te tinana. He āhua kāore e tino mārama ki te titiro atu.

Wairua is the emotional and spiritual side of a person that remains even when the body no longer exists. This includes the spiritual essence of all beings and creatures of the natural world, including animals, birds, fish and human beings.

Every living thing has a wairua which is connected to the power of the gods. Wairua is also described as a soul or spirit which can be energised or subjected to damage by external factors that can greatly affect a person.


Community objectives align with research objectives and any potential harm is considered.

This tikanga consideration encourages good practice with the communities that feature prominently in the research. It acknowledges community objectives, how these views are relevant to the research. It also examines mitigations to minimise potential harm, should any arise.

Things to consider

  • How research objectives align with community interests and aspirations.
  • Ways that the voices of the communities of interest will be elevated in the research.
  • Whether researchers have considered any potential harm, disadvantages, or risks to the communities of interest, particularly those made most vulnerable.
  • Mitigations to address potential risks or negative impacts.

Mauri | life principle or force

He whakamārama | Meaning

Ko te mana atua ka whakanohoia mai ki te kōhatu, ki te rākau, ki te aha atu, ko taua mana atua te kaitiaki o te tangata, o te whenua, o te aha atu, he tapu.

Mauri is a special power or authority of the gods that allows everything in the natural world to exist. Every living being, creature, or landmark (including people, fish, animals, birds, forests, land, seas, and rivers) has a mauri.

The mauri is the power that allows these living things to exist within their domain. It is also known as a spark of life, the active component that gives life.

It can be described as a ‘life force’ that activates different parts of a system to work together, for example, the human body or a natural ecosystem such as waterways or forests. When a system begins to shut down, the mauri slowly ceases until it is finally extinguished forever.  


An understanding of how data transforms from its original collection purpose to support research objectives.

This tikanga consideration examines how data will be used and the extent to which it will transform from its original collection purpose. This is done by examining the research question, the datasets that will be used, why the datasets are important to the research, and whether the research enhances or aligns with the original data collection purpose.

Of interest are the data variables to be used to support research objectives, especially variable types such as ethnicity, age ranges (especially elderly, children, and young people), patients and more. Māori, by ethnicity and iwi, and iwi-related affiliation data are also very important.

This consideration also provides an opportunity to understand how data is being used and transformed through the data system, and to monitor and improve data collection.

Things to consider

  • How data will be transformed from its original collection purpose.
  • Does the transformation maintain consistency of the data with its original collection purposes?
  • Uniqueness of the data integration - has this been done before by others?
  • How ethnicity data enhances the research.
  • Whether there are clear reasons for accessing restricted datasets. 

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Content last reviewed 23 November 2020.

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