The central theme of this model is that a set of shared values must exist in any community to create an environment that ultimately benefits all. The authors of this model suggest that children who are often referred to as “alienated”, “troubled” or “difficult” are at risk because they live in an environment that is hazardous - one that breeds discouragement. By contrast, an environment that promotes courage is one that fosters changes to meet the needs of the young person and society and subsequently reclaims youth at risk.

The model is represented by a circle - the medicine wheel - that is divided into quadrants. The circle is sacred and suggests the interconnectedness of life. Likewise, it expresses the sacredness of the number four - the four directions (East, West, North, South), the four elements (wind, water, fire, earth) of the universe, and the four races (red, white, black, yellow). Each quadrant of the circle of courage stands for a central value - belonging, mastery, independence and generosity.


Circle of Courage Pic  Maia Model pic


Connections have been made between these four concepts and similar concepts in Te Ao (the Mãori world) and are;

  • Whānau - Belonging / Identity
  • Pukengatanga - Mastery / Competence
  • Mana Motuhake - Independence / Responsibility
  • Atawhai - Generosity / Contribution

(Te Ora Hou, 2009).


“I have always believed it is our responsibility as adults to give children futures worth having. I have often been shocked and angered to see how shamefully we have failed in this responsibility.”

- (Graca Machel in Brendtro and du Toit, 2005, 17).



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