Understanding how cultural values influence career processes for Maori

Reid, Lynette Anne
Pringle, Judith
Henare, Manuka
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Doctor of Philosophy
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Auckland University of Technology

This thesis aims to contribute to career theory and practices by exploring the cultural specificity of Māori concepts, constructs and experiences to explain career processes. Previous career stories of Māori have typically been reported in biographies, interviews or other publications. In this study career processes have been included here as only one aspect of a person’s life in the hope of illuminating common themes that could tell the audience something about being Māori. What authors have strived to preserve is the character of the voice (Diamond, 2003) and freedom in the information expressed (Moon, 2003). The New Zealand career’s profession has been slow to develop a specific focus on the career stories of Māori. Commentary instead has been based on statistical placement of Māori in employment or a minimal inclusion of the Māori population in sampling numbers. There has been a growing movement among career theorists to apply career development principles to other cultures using indigenous practices. Such a focus requires identification and definition of constructs that are indigenous practices. One is cultural values. It has been suggested that cultural values, particularly social relationship values, play an important role in career development processes (Hartung et al., 1998; Ibrahim et al., 1994). Indigenous social relationships place the physical space between people as a forum for connections requiring time and mutual recognition (Durie, 2003). Career stories of a sample of 22 Māori provide the source for an examination of the dynamic cultural contexts in which career processes occur. Selection of participants was made to span career life stages (Super, 1980). However, this concept was adapted to include an integration of age, life stages and Māori cultural responsibilities. Attention was given to the cultural contexts of three broad life stages: ‘rangatahi’ (youth),’ pakeke’ (adult), and ‘kaumatua’ (elder). The description ‘career cultural stages’ was coined for this sampling strategy. Data analyses found multiple overlapping constructions of identity used in specific cultural themes and settings to experience career by Māori participants. A new typology of cultural career identities was developed based on cultural and career features. There are three categories: the ‘cloaked’; the ‘seeker’; and the ‘keeper’. Each possessed specific cultural and career characteristics and criteria for participants’ inclusion in each category was based on them possessing these characteristics. For the cloaked, culture and career were seen as completely separate entities, unless prompted by another person. The seekers on the other hand were able to express a range of career identities generated from an ability to place themselves easily into diverse stories and self characterizations. They were able to interweave these identities to create meaningful career themes finding it very easy to combine career and cultural themes. Finally, the keepers’ career stories were often secondary to life stories, with cultural values consistently embedded and intertwined. Rich career themes were dominated by poetic ‘life’ stories, filled with people and their relationships to each other. This study indicates that relationships were, and are, the life blood of career for Māori. All participants raised the significance of relationships, and, in particular, the transmission of messages about being Māori. Relational practice provides a framework for understanding career and culture for Māori by acknowledging the role of others which extend beyond whanau and the living. Relationships with others have facilitated Māori to express personal experiences of being Māori which is inevitably enacted in career. This study expands the sparse knowledge base of career processes of Māori and has implications for understanding relationships and the impact of the inner experiences of being Māori. It makes a strong recommendation that career research should continue to reflect the diversity within Māori of cultural themes and settings and the wider realities of modern society in which Māori live. Awareness of these significant issues may help career theorists and practitioners to more effectively address career issues for Māori.

Career , Narrative , Maori , Culture , Indigenous , Story telling
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