Māori Instagram: The Social Media Lifeworlds and Decolonising Practices of Rangatahi Māori
In a growing corner of the internet, rangatahi (young) Māori are finding and creating a place to gather, to discuss, and to explore their indigeneity. As a member of this community, the following thesis explores my own personal and research journey, alongside the rangatahi of Māori Instagram, by way of digital ethnography and supplemented by semi-structured interviews with three influential ‘leaders’ within this community. Kaupapa Māori methodologies were considered thoroughly throughout this process, and in relation to my positionality, which led to a strong autoethnographic component. This became particularly appropriate as Ihumātao occupation coincided unexpectedly with the beginning of my data gathering in late July, 2019. What emerged from this month of digital fieldwork and interviews, was an ethnography that explores what it means to be Māori for the diverse, dispersed, yet digitally connected rangatahi of Aotearoa, New Zealand and abroad. This includes considering the contexts and histories of colonisation, historical trauma, and urbanisation alongside the transformative possibilities of digital practices of decolonisation through Instagram. These practices incorporated relationships with the land and technologically-facilitated activism which I have termed e-kaitiakitanga. They further included the utilisation of Instagram’s dialogical affordances which enabled rangatahi to discuss personal and collective identity in relation to tradition, authenticity, and modernity, resulting in new adaptations of tradition through fashion and personal expression. Lastly, the transformative potential of Instagram as a socially constituted ‘place’, which I theorise as a ‘digital marae’, was seen in practices of connection and vulnerability, that in turn supported decolonisation and healing. The thesis then concludes by highlighting the agency of these community leaders in continuing the intergenerational struggle of dismantling colonial ideology, and in doing so, healing the disconnection lived and experienced by those I spoke with, by myself, and by so many other contemporary Māori.
Advisor: Wardell, Susan
Degree Name: Master of Arts
Degree Discipline: Humanities, Social Anthropology Programme
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: Māori; social media; indigenous; decolonisation; instagram; ethnography; anthropology
Research Type: Thesis