Tuakana-Teina Programme

The concept of 'Tuakana Teina'

Tuakana-Teina” is a Maori concept referring to  the relationship between an older sibling (Tuakana) and a  younger sibling (Teina).

Mā te Tuakana kā tōtika te Tēina. Ma te Tēina kā tōtika te Tuakana

From the older sibling the younger one learns the right way to do things, and from the younger sibling the older one learns to be tolerant

Tuakana/Teina is specific to teaching and learning in the Māori context. Within teaching and learning contexts, this can take a variety of forms:

  • Older to younger – the Tuakana has the knowledge and content to pass on to the Teina.
  • Younger to older – the Teina has some skills in an area that the Tuakana does not and is able to teach the Tuakana.
  • Peer to peer – Teina teaches Teina, Tuakana teaches Tuakana.
  • Able to less able – the learner may not be as able in an area, and someone more skilled can teach what is required.

(Sourced: Turuki Maori Health Workforce Strategy “Growing our own”)

SLIANZ Tuakana/Teina buddy mentoring programme

Our programme is a reciprocal personal development style relationship in which a more experienced Interpreter (Tuakana) helps to guide someone less experienced (Teina). It is a shared learning and development partnership between someone with experience and someone who wants to learn, resulting in mutual reflection, learning and growing of both Tuakana and Teina.

Currently, the two year programme is targeted to new interpreting graduates, but any SLIANZ member can join.


The programme aims to support  new graduates in the first two critical years after graduation, as as they transition from learning interpreting to becoming interpreters.

Nō he kākano iti, e puawai ana he kahikatea

From a small seed, a tall tree will blossom

The Tuakana/Teina (buddy) relationship offers reciprocal support and deliberation on professional practice in a confidential and safe environment through a mix of skills coaching, coupled with emotional well-being, logistical information sharing and professional mindfulness.

The programme offers opportunities to:

  • Hone interpreting skills
  • Reflect
  • Debrief
  • Share professional highs and lows
  • Discuss dilemmas
  • Ask for advice
  • Offer suggestions/strategies
  • Offer encouragement/support/guidance
  • Share mutual respect, learning and networking
  • Give back to the profession

How does it work?

On joining the programme, new graduates (Teina) are matched with a specific Tuakana of their choice. The Tuakana and Teina pairs are encouraged to have regular 1:1 contact, which can include meeting face to face, phone, text, email or Skype. This enables a relationship of trust and understanding to be built.

The content of these 1:1 sessions is flexible to best suit the needs of each individual partnership; however, the pairs are expected to make contact on a regular basis.

The programme is NOT intended to be formal supervision. Read more about differences between supervision, counselling and the Tuakana Teina programme.

In addition to 1:1 sessions, the programme also includes opportunities for Teina to attend group tautoko (support), in the firm of workshops throughout the year. Some of these workshops will be led by different Tuakana so that Teina are offered a mix of different support styles / strategies / areas of expertise. In addition, there will be opportunities for Teina-Teina tautoko (peer support).

All activities in the programme count towards SLIANZ Professional Development points for both Tuakana and Teina. Read more about SLIANZ Professional Development points.

What are the expectations if I take part in the programme?

We expect that the Tuakana­/Teina bond will be established in the graduate’s third year of study at AUT; offering support through practicum and exam times, so that by the time they graduate and venture forth into their first year as a working interpreter, the relationship will be well developed.

SLIANZ require Teina to make contact of some sort with their Tuakana in the first year at least once every 4 weeks. This can extend to 6-­8 weeks in their second year.

Tuakana will make every effort to be available when and as needed, (within reason); endeavouring to get back in touch with their Teina as soon as reasonably practical. Teina are not required to wait for a set date to make contact with their Tuakana, but they are required to do so at least once  in this time frame.

Tuakana are also asked to be available  to offer mini workshops, training or discussion sessions for Teina throughout the year, either on their own or together with other Tuakana. Teina will be asked for topics they would like to cover. Logistical support for these sessions (including booking a suitable venue) will be available from the Tuakana/Teina Programme Leader.

How do I join as a Teina?

To become a Teina, you need to:

  • be in the final year of the AUT Interpreters course, OR
  • be qualified and currently working as an NZSL interpreter.
  • be a paid up member of SLIANZ (student/ordinary).

A SLIANZ committee member will usually visit the AUT course in May of your final year (or when practical within the University timetable) to explain the benefits of joining SLIANZ and the Tuakana Teina programme.

How do I join as a Tuakana?

  • To be a Tuakana, you have to:

    • be a qualified sign language interpreter
    •  be a paid up member of SLIANZ
    • have completed at least  2 years of interpreting practice (no less than 15 hours a week on average).

    Teina who have completed he 2 year programme are welcome to sign up as Tuakana for the next cohort of new graduates, provided they meet the requirements above.  It is not compulsory. SLIANZ welcomes Teina to gain more experience and come back when they feel ready.

    Contact tuakanateina@slianz.org.nz if you would like to become a Tuakana.

How are pairs selected? Can we choose?

Yes you can.

A fun “speed date” event will  take place in July/August each year. This is opportunity for Teina and Tuakana to meet and choose their potential match.

This will also give current existing Tuakana/Teina pairings the opportunity to switch buddies if they so choose. It is not compulsory, but SLIANZ does encourage Teina to take advantage of such a wealth of experience and learn from different Tuakana.

Can Teina have more than one Tuakana?

Yes, provided both Tuakana are aware and happy with the arrangement. SLIANZ sees the benefits of multiple buddy relationships but suggests due to logistics that Teina do not have a relationship with more than two Tuakana at the same time. PD points for 1:1 mentoring sessions are capped at 6 points per year and awarded on a  pro rata basis.

Can Tuakana have more than one Teina?

Yes,  provided they have the time to dedicate to them and all Teina are aware and happy with the situation. SLIANZ suggests that Tuakana have a relationship with no more than two Teina at the same time.  PD points for 1:1 mentoring sessions are capped at 6 points per year and are allocated on a pro rata basis.

Is there a complaints procedure?

Yes,  if Tuakana/Teina buddies encounter issues they can not resolve, they can raise it with the Programme Leader for mediation. If after this the parties involved are not satisfied and wish to pursue things further, the issue will be referred to the SLIANZ committee to follow their complaints procedure.

Further development of the programme

The vision of the Tuakana Teina programme  is to develop a ‘buddy’ culture through a two-tiered approach, supporting Teina and also providing workshops and support for Tuakana wishing to develop their coaching and mentoring skills. A recent workshop by Aly McNicoll from the NZ Coaching and Mentoring Centre is an example of this approach.

SLIANZ are exploring ways of expanding the Tuakana Teina programme and/or provide other mentoring and coaching opportunities to its members, including peer-to-peer mentoring. We will be seeking your input through a questionnaire and further discussion at the 2019 Annual Conference in Wellington.

Teina who have completed the two-year programme will be asked to take part in an exit interview so that their feedback can be taken into account when we make improvements to the programme.

SLIANZ needs you​!

Being a practical profession the best way to learn is from the experience of those around you.

Please take this as an opportunity to give back to the next generation, like so many of those before, have given to us. This is your chance. The profession needs your support.

Please express any questions, concerns, feedback, or interest in becoming a Tuakana-­Teina to: tuakanateina@slianz.org.nz