“Put Yourself in Our Shoes”: Wāhine Māori Partner Violence the Media and Help-Seeking

Cootes, Karina May
Wilson, Denise
Came, Heather
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Master of Philosophy
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Auckland University of Technology

Media representations of wāhine Māori can be seen by both Māori and the wider public as a constructed reality of another’s life or way of living. Unfortunately, New Zealand media publish what they believe will produce breaking headlines and capturing articles. Very rarely do we see positive aspects relating to wāhine Māori portrayed in popular mainstream media. In its place, they continue to reinforce stories that endlessly focus on negative stereotypes and damaging misconceptions of Māori. The question posed in this thesis is: How does the media portrayal of Māori women affect those living with violence, their daily lives, and their decisions to access help or services? This kaupapa Māori research utilised a mana wāhine approach. Data was accumulated using semi-structured interviews, kanohi-ki-te-kanohi (face to face) with eleven wāhine Māori who had all previously lived in an unsafe and or violent relationship. Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed, then double-checked for accuracy. An Indigenous collective analytic approach, Mahi a Rōpū, was applied to analyse each transcription, to collectively as a group identify, discuss, and agree on themes, and sub-themes. The following four core themes emerged from the data, Racial profiling; Effects of constant negative portrayal; Whakamā A profound shame; and Getting the story right. Each of the themes, accompanied by a set of sub-themes, share insight and awareness into the realities of each wāhine who participated in this study. An opportunity was provided for their ongoing trauma, pain, judgment, and fear to be safely shared and finally heard when they are seeking help. These findings demonstrate the importance and need for change to be made, within the way representations of wāhine Māori are depicted. While the thesis highlights what works for one may not work for others, recommendations are also shared in hope of media representatives utilising their power and influence to not only change the current perception of its wider audience but also their individual world views.

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