Mana Wāhine in Information Technology: Ngā Kaiwhatu Kākahu Me Te Kākahu

Hamilton-Pearce, Janette
Tan, Felix
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Doctor of Philosophy
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Auckland University of Technology

This thesis argues for an Indigenous women’s cultural construction of information technology (IT). In Aotearoa New Zealand, Māori women have established Mana Wāhine discourses, principles, theories and practices (Evans, 1994; Hutchings, 2002b, 2005; Irwin, 1990, 1992b; Jahnke, 1997b; Pihama, 2001; Smith, 1992; Te Awekotuku, 1991). Mana Wāhine is the power, legitimacy, authority and spirituality of Māori women as determined by mātauranga wāhine [Māori women’s knowledge and epistemology] (Jenkins & Pihama, 2001). Mana Wāhine is about theorising, analysing and conducting research for, by, and with, Māori women (Pihama, 2001). Māori women have always been IT professionals through Ngā Kaiwhatu Kākahu Me Te Kākahu [The Cloak Weavers and the Cloak]. The overall intent of this research is to develop a Mana Wāhine in IT conceptual framework. The research aim is to identify the key discourses, principles and theories of Mana Wāhine for an Indigenous Māori women’s cultural construction of IT? IT has the cultural constructs of the dominant society, which design and shape it (Dirksen, 2001; Stewart, 1993). The herstories of twenty-four Indigenous Māori women in IT provide lived experiences of colonising, decolonising and indigenising of IT. The colonial oppression within IT education and the workplace underpin the hegemonic ‘geek neo-colonial male’ culture. Indigenous Māori women’s culture is constructed as the ‘Other’. The Indigenous peoples’ literature disregards gender and white women in IT literature disregard ethnicity, race and colonisation. The joint effects of being Indigenous Māori women are fraught with complexity. For Indigenous women to participate in IT means assimilating into geek neo-colonial and male beliefs maintaining culture-neutral ideology, as a new form of cultural imperialism. Through such power relations, cultural identity is left at the door when entering IT where Māori women define themselves as the only lonely, the only Indigenous Māori woman. The decolonising and indigenising of IT is where Māori women assert their cultural rights to participate as Mana Wāhine in IT – Ngā Kaiwhatu Kākahu Me Te Kākahu. In future, research needs to assert that Indigenous women be first beneficiaries of IT (Kamira, 2000b). Mana Wāhine deconstructs colonising and culture-neutral ideologies forming a localised view to indigenise IT for women. IT cannot be at the expense of Mana Wāhine. For the benefit of our people, children and ourselves, Mana Wāhine in IT will always fight for cultural survival.

Indigenous Māori Women , Mana Wāhine , Information technology , Colonising IT , Decolonising IT , Indigenising IT
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