Building Taitamariki Māori Capacity: Reclaiming and Applying Te Ao Māori Principles to Inform and Support Their Intimate Partner Relationship Well-being
Dobbs, Terry Anne
MetadataShow full metadata
Violence prevention and violence within young people’s intimate partner relationships does not receive the same attention within research, policy, or practice as does violence in adults’ relationships. Even less attention is paid to Indigenous youth and their intimate partner relationship well-being. The development of young people’s intimate partner relationship well-being, and the impacts of violence within these relationships, is a growing concern amongst Indigenous peoples. Given the youthful demographic of the Māori population (Indigenous people of Aōtearoa New Zealand), over half of whom are under 23.9 years of age, there are growing concerns that if the current prevalence rates continue, nearly two out of every three taitamāhine (girls) will experience intimate partner violence in their lifetimes. What do these statistics signal for the healthy formation of their intimate partner relationships, and the future impacts on whānau (extended family) well-being, and hapū (sub-tribe) and iwi (tribe) vitality? Questions such as these have led to calls for initiatives that help prevent intimate partner violence in this age group. How information is elicited from/with or about taitamariki Māori (Māori young people) has also been a concern within the violence prevention dialogue. This study elicited taitamariki Māori views on their intimate partner relationship well-being, framed in Te Ao Māori (Māori worldview). This was investigated through qualitative research methods, situated within a framework of Kaupapa Māori methodology (Indigenous research theory) and the co-construction of Kaupapa Taitamariki Māori methods with taitamariki. This study explored methods to gather information with taitamariki Māori, which supported their cultural agency and looked to our traditional practices of knowledge acquisition, reciprocity, and exchange. Traditional wānanga (place of learning) were held with 15 taitamariki Māori participants from a Kura Kaupapa Māori total immersion secondary school in Northern Aōtearoa New Zealand. Of significance within wānanga was the use of te reo Māori (Māori language) and the utilisation of same culture and gender researchers. Separately, 14 Kuia and Kaumātua (tribal leaders) gave their understandings of Te Ao Māori practices that were relevant to traditional gender role practices and the maintenance of healthy intimate partner relationships. Learnings from Kuia and Kaumātua were also gathered about cultural (pre-colonial and contemporary) concepts that could guide current-day (re)constructions of gender and sex. These findings were brought together to investigate whether the relevance of Te Ao Māori understandings, for present-day taitamariki and their whānau, has the potential to inform violence prevention initiatives, and enhance taitamariki Māori relationship decision-making and well-being. Framed within Te Ao Māori, taitamariki voiced clarity of expected relationship behaviours while being aware of stereotypical Western gender roles and the subsequent behaviours within their own relationships and the relationships of the previous generation. Importantly, describing ‘gender roles’ within Te Ao Māori constructs (mana-wāhine, mana-tāne) increased taitamariki understandings and awareness of sexually coercive behaviour and its prevention. Kuia and Kaumātua suggest that complex interaction of both historical and contemporary factors have made it difficult and/or interrupted the intergenerational transference of Te Ao Māori knowledge. The use of our traditional practices could be a possible means for promoting healthy taitamariki Māori intimate partner relationship well-being. Participants provided Te Ao Māori principles which could assist in the development of a taitamariki violence prevention framework. This study makes a unique contribution, both nationally and internationally, in the face of the scarcity of research undertaken with Indigenous youth about their intimate partner relationship well-being, and the scarcity of research carried out with an Indigenous youth lens using Indigenous well-being frameworks.