He Pukenga Pūrākau, Ka Ora te Tamaiti: Pūrākau-based Physical Activity and Hauora Outcomes for Tamariki Māori

Penetito-Hemara, Nicole Aroha
Jackson, Anne-Marie
Warbrick, Isaac
Harris, Nigel
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Doctor of Philosophy
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Auckland University of Technology

He Pukenga Pūrākau, Ka Ora te Tamaiti centres on the transformative power of pūrākau-based physical activity and its impact on hauora outcomes for tamariki Māori. He Pukenga Pūrākau, Ka Ora te Tamaiti emphasises that a flood of pūrākau results in the health of the child. The enduring nature of pūrākau, spanning thousands of years, attests to how Māori narratives have encoded knowledge, values, and played a vital role in transmitting mātauranga Māori across generations. Central to this research is a focus on tamariki, including a commitment to empowering their creative potential and amplifying their unique voices.

Pūrākau-based physical activity involves applying and transmitting mātauranga Māori through traditional and contemporary forms of physical activity to achieve hauora. It is underpinned by three foundational pou: hauora, pūrākau, and Māori physical activity. Three pūrākau-based physical activity programmes served as the focal point of this research, including Pau te Hau, a curriculum-based, pūrākau-inspired high-intensity interval training programme; He Pī Ka Rere, a kaupapa Māori movement programme that fuses kori tinana, pūrākau, and mātauranga Māori; and Tākaro ki te Taiao, a whānau-led, tākaro programme which uses pūrākau and is set in the taiao.

This research aims to understand how pūrākau-based physical activity impacts hauora for tamariki Māori. The research participants included tamariki, kaiako, and matua. Pūrākau formed the primary methodological framework underpinning this research and paved the way for understanding the very essence of mātauranga Māori, identity, and knowledge transmission using storytelling. Data collection methods included wānanga activities with tamariki, interviews with kaiako and observational research. Kaupapa Māori Theory in Praxis was also used as a method to actively challenge Western-centric research paradigms and prioritise Māori cultural norms. Employing this approach resulted in the development of Tākaro ki te Taiao, which centred on a wānanga in the taiao as a forum for knowledge sharing and data collection. Pūrākau was integral in allowing participants to tap into Māori narratives to share their experiences, express their truths, and promote cultural innovation. Deductive analysis methods were used to apply key themes to the four dimensions of Te Whare Tapa Whā. Kura huna were drawn from a series of ancestral pūrākau to illustrate an alignment with the data and further deepen comprehension.

The findings of this research highlighted that pūrākau significantly enhances physical activity experiences for tamariki, enabling them to achieve hauora and participate authentically ‘as Māori’.

The study focused on three research questions. The first question sought to understand what pūrākau-based physical activity entails. Notable findings included a precise definition of pūrākaubased physical activity, encompassing three definitions for each foundational pou. Additionally, it revealed that system leaders fail to recognise a Māori construct of physical activity, emphasising the need for a shared language developed by Māori for Māori. The second question delved into how pūrākau-based physical activity impacts hauora, with a specific focus on 'as Māori' participation. Findings indicated that Pau te Hau offered limited 'as Māori' participation, while He Pī Ka Rere prioritised and built strong bicultural foundations within the school for it to flourish. Tākaro ki te Taiao stood out as a programme, approach, and philosophy which enabled many opportunities to engage authentically in physical activity 'as Māori.' The final research question centred on exploring the perspectives of tamariki, kaiako, and matua regarding the impact of pūrākau-based physical activity on their hauora. All programmes demonstrated a positive impact on hauora to varying extents. Pau te Hau excelled in te taha tinana but lacked connection to te ao Māori. He Pī Ka Rere had a substantial impact across te taha hinengaro, te taha whānau, and te taha wairua, with a holistic approach playing a pivotal role. Tākaro ki te Taiao excelled in embracing all dimensions of Te Whare Tapa Whā, and its connection to the taiao contributed to a heightened sense of spiritual connection.

Future implications for this study were anchored in the title of this research, He Pukenga Pūrākau, Ka Ora te Tamaiti. He Pukenga Pūrākau is a research paradigm that recognises the pivotal role of pūrākau in shaping the entire research journey. It played a crucial role in forming the methodology as well as driving the research methods and data gathering activities employed. Additionally, pūrākau significantly contributed to the development of Tākaro ki te Taiao, which exemplifies Kaupapa Māori Theory in Praxis. Pūrākau influenced the analysis process, resulting in the creation of three pukapuka. These pukapuka are an accumulation of the insights gathered and they serve to challenge conventional academic ideals about what constitutes appropriate, valid, and legitimate research outputs. This multidimensional impact therefore showcases the transformative power of pūrākau and the crucial role it can play. Ka Ora te Tamaiti is a research praxis that centres on tamariki as agents of change and recognises the mana of tamariki as our most sacred taonga. It argues the need to explore creative methods for engaging tamariki in the research process and highlights the importance of their active participation as leaders and decision-makers in programme design and implementation. Embracing pūrākau in this research signified a commitment to decolonise the research process, exercise tino rangatiratanga, prioritise mātauranga Māori and empower the mana of tamariki.

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