Psychosocial Recovery From Disasters: A Māori Perspective
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Psychosocial wellbeing considers the interaction between psychological and social factors which contributes to overall wellbeing for individuals, families and communities. Impacts of disasters vary and pose a serious risk to psychosocial wellbeing. The psychosocial recovery approach aims to reduce the psychosocial impacts of a disaster. This includes minimising the physical, psychological, and social impacts of an adverse event while supporting emotional, social, and physical wellbeing of individuals and groups. Māori are tangata whenua (indigenous people) of Aotearoa New Zealand. Māori are disproportionately impacted by poor psychosocial health outcomes compared to non-Māori. Research that examine Māori perspectives of psychosocial recovery following disasters is scarce. Using the 2016 Kaikōura earthquake as a case study, this Masters dissertation provides Māori insights of psychosocial recovery post-disaster. The objectives of this research are to explore the psychosocial mechanisms developed after the Kaikōura earthquake by both external agencies and Māori themselves. It identifies the difficulties, barriers, gaps, and successes encountered by Māori during their psychosocial recovery. The chosen methodology for this study was Kaupapa Māori research paradigms to represent Māori narratives about recovery following the Kaikōura earthquake. Te Tiriti o Waitangi (Treaty of Waitangi) principles also guided this research. This study is a descriptive qualitative piece and utilised semi-structured interviews of five Māori participants to gather information. The information gathered was then analysed thematically. The study finds that the earthquake affected the psychosocial wellbeing of Māori who developed different mechanisms to overcome the events. Psychosocial mechanisms positively and negatively impacted Māori. Te ao Māori (Māori worldview) mechanisms such as kaha (capabilities), manaakitanga (caring for others), kotahitanga (unity) and marae were key to positively affecting psychosocial wellbeing for Māori following the earthquake. This reinforces the view te ao Māori mechanisms should be embedded into disaster risk reduction activities within New Zealand to better support psychosocial wellbeing. Relationship building between Māori and external agencies such as the Red Cross and Civil Defence of New Zealand is noted as an area for improvement. Existing studies found social capital is a key mechanism to facilitating a response to an event, and supports reducing the vulnerabilities in a community. Māori perceived the way mental health support was offered as inadequate. Mental health support was offered too soon after the earthquake and no follow up action was provided. This negatively affected participants’ psychosocial wellbeing. Participants said timely follow up, adequate to the person’s needs is required. This entails a holistic approach that considers Māori individual wellbeing, in their context, whānau collectives and environment. The best practices this study recommends include addressing health in an individual’s context, whānau and environment. Investing in indigenous-led solutions, increasing Māori representation in disaster risk reduction and long-term resilience. Te ao Māori mechanisms and principles should be incorporated to support long-term psychosocial wellbeing of Māori. The study considers implications of the findings for disaster risk reduction policies and concludes there is a need to improve psychosocial wellbeing for Māori, by incorporating te ao Māori into disaster risk reduction.