Te Māoritanga: wellbeing and identity. Kapa haka as a vehicle for Māori health promotion

Paenga, Maria Dawn Te Ahu
Smith, John F
Hudson, Maui
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Master of Health Science
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Auckland University of Technology

This dissertation is aimed at researching the relationship between wellbeing and identity for Māori. The research is investigating the traditional philosophies and practices that kapa haka (Māori performing arts) contribute towards wellbeing and identity as processes for Māori, that can be utilised in Māori health promotion. The state of Māori Health has been well documented by authors of recent times, but limited research exists around the concept that a secure identity aids in wellbeing for Māori. The research was based in two paradigms; Te Ao Māori and Te Ao Mārama. Each has its own methodologies, methods and analytical processes, and are both found in the Te Ao Māori worldview. These two paradigmatically approaches were taken in order to highlight the differences between researching traditional Māori knowledge, and Māori knowledge that stems from a contemporary Māori paradigm (Te Ao Māori paradigm) in research. The Te Ao Mārama paradigm is removed from contemporary influences in order to research the attributes, gifts and acts of Atua Māori in the contexts of humanity (the human body) and the natural physical environment. Two methodological approaches were used; Kaupapa Māori under the Te Ao Māori paradigm, and Whakapapa/whakaheke under the Te Ao Mārama paradigm. One method involved conducting interviews which were then thematically analysed using Kaupapa Māori analysis, and under Te Ao Mārama, whakapapa/whakaheke was analysed using wānanga as an analytical process. Two distinct streams of knowledge were discovered, both different in outcome, but both found relevance in Māori health promotion through the vehicle of kapa haka. The outcomes that came out of the Te Ao Māori paradigm and methodology were very much around kapa haka and the process of participating in kapa haka. The major findings were that kapa haka is an important vehicle for; the learning and teaching of Māori knowledge, construction of a secure Māori identity which was part of wellbeing, whanaungatanga , and learning skills that could transfer into other areas of life. Using wānanga as a analytical process to analyse whakapapa/whakaheke took us through an understanding of the main Atua under traditional Māori bodies of knowledge that help to construct what modern day kapa haka is made up of, namely; Te Whare Tū Taua, Te Whare Tapere and Te Whare Pora. The main Atua and their gifts, attributes and acts were analysed in the contexts of humanity (human body) and the natural physical environment. Together with their contribution to kapa haka, they found relevance in Māori health promotion through; Internal and External control of self in behaviour management, and Te Ao Māramatanga or greater understanding of self. Much is to be discovered and researched under the Te Ao Mārama paradigm. This research study is one of the first to attempt to use the framework proposed, utilizing the two methodological approaches outlined. What remains evident is that the Te Ao Māori and Te Ao Mārama paradigms are both important, the former to gain understanding about our contemporary reality as Māori, the latter to research Atua Māori and Māori cosmology to aid in reaching greater depths about our collective understanding about what traditional Māori knowledge was, and how it can transfer unimpeded into a contemporary context.

Te Ao Marama , Kapa haka , Māori , Māori health promotion , Traditional Māori knowledge , Māori performing arts
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