The Meaning of Being Aged and Being Maori

Wright St Clair, V
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The Selwyn Foundation - Selwyn Centre for Ageing and spirituality

The human entity‟s co-existence in the world is fundamental to an ontological interpretation of the meaning of being (Heidegger, 1927/1962). Accordingly, being-in-the-world is always a mode of „Being-with-Others.‟ Even when not in the company of others, Being-in-the-world always has a relational quality. It implies a person is never fully „alone‟ in the world. Others are always „there‟ in a contextual way. Such understandings of Being-with will be influenced by a peoples‟ world view. This paper shares three stories told by Maori elders within the context of a hermeneutic phenomenological study undertaken on Auckland‟s North Shore. Each story illuminates something of the spiritual meanings of being aged and being Maori. The study itself aimed to understand the meaning of „being aged‟ through the everyday experiences of those who live in advanced age. Individual research conversations were conducted with fifteen community-dwelling elders; four Maori aged 71 to 93 and eleven non-Maori aged 80 to 97 years. The research conversations were focused on gathering the stories of particular everyday events as well as the person‟s reflections on aging. As a non-Maori researcher, cultural integrity of the text and the interpretations was enhanced through partnership with a Maori advisor. In this paper, the spiritual dimension of the everyday experiences of elder Maori are revealed as being-with as belonging, being-with as elder, and contributing to community.

Verbal presentation at the International Conference for Ageing and Spirituality, Auckland
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