A Journey to Belonging: Explorations of Māori Perspectives of Water Safety
Māori are intimately connected to wai (water). There are many Māori sayings and phrases that include wai, such as: wairua (spirit), waimāori (freshwater), waiora (wellness), ko wai koe (what waters are you, who are you?) and nō wai koe (from which waters do you descend, where are you from?). However, statistically Māori have a high rate of drowning within Aotearoa, New Zealand (Haimona & Takurua, 2007; WSNZ, 2017). Although Māori comprise approximately 15% of New Zealand’s population, Māori account for 24% of all drowning over the last 5 years (WSNZ, 2017). There is limited research that examines Māori understandings of water safety within literature, which subsequently is dominated by Western views. Moreover, there is very little published information that investigates why Māori have high rates of drowning despite their strong cultural connection to water. Māori water safety is grounded in Māori worldview and is the connection to water. Māori water safety encapsulates the importance of connection to water through whakapapa (genealogy), mātauranga (traditional knowledge system and ways of knowing) and tikanga (custom, protocol) of wai. The Wai Puna model is a theory of Māori water safety that draws on these foundations and has the potential to impact and improve well-being for whānau (families), hapū (sub-tribe, clan) and iwi (tribe) in, on and around the water. Strengthening a connection to water promotes good health as it is through water that Māori derive their understandings of hauora (health, well-being) (Durie, 2001, 2003). The aim of this doctoral research was to discursively analyse Māori perspectives of Māori water safety. The following three research questions framed this study: (1) what are the emergent discourses of connection to water found within the oral narratives (karakia, mōteatea, pepeha, whakataukī and pūrākau) and participants of Maripi Tuatini, Hauteruruku ki Puketeraki waka club and Te Taitimu Trust; (2) how are the discourses of connection to water operationalised in Maripi Tuatini, Hauteruruku ki Puketeraki waka club and Te Taitimu Trust and; (3) what are the implications of the discourses of connection to water for Māori health? Methodologically, elements of kaupapa Māori theory and critical discourse analysis (CDA) were utilised. The research was operationalised through Fairclough’s (2010) concept of “objects of research” to examine the emergence and operationalisation of the discourses of connection to water in conjunction with whakapapa and kaupapa (collective vision, praxis) derived from kaupapa Māori theory. The primary method utilised a case study with three community groups. The three case studies of the research were: Maripi Tuatini of Ngāti Apa Ngā Wairiki iwi in Rangitīkei; Hauteruruku ki Puketeraki waka club of Kāti Huirapa ki Puketeraki hapū in Karitāne and; Te Taitimu Trust of Ngāti Kahungunu whānau in Hawkes Bay. The three case studies focus foremost on strengthening connection to water; they do this through focusing on whakapapa, mātauranga and tikanga pertaining to their respective waterways. Within each of the case studies, I employed multiple methods. The methods were: discourse analysis; textual analysis of Māori oral narratives; kōrero tuku iho (intergenerational transmission of cultural knowledge); interviews from previous research; surveys; reflective journal and; word cloud images. In the study of Maripi Tuatini, connection to water manifested as whakapapa, the prominence of reconnecting rangatahi to their genealogy and cultural identity. The discourses of a whakapapa connection to water that emerged from two Ngāti Apa Ngā Wairiki oral texts (He Oriori mō Wharaurangi mōteatea and the Tūtaeporoporo pūrākau) and the Maripi Tuatini participants were: mātauranga, resilience, utu and tikanga. These emergent discourses were operationalised in Maripi Tuatini through the materialisation of the Whangaehu awa hīkoi, resilience programme and water safety accreditation; through the enactment of the Maripi Tuatini strategic plan and; through the inculcation of a river identity and a Ngāti Apa Ngā Wairiki identity. These discourses elucidate the Maripi Tuatini perspective of Māori water safety as a whakapapa connection to water and the importance of knowing who you are and where you come from. In the study of Hauteruruku ki Puketeraki waka club, connection to water is expressed as whanaungatanga, the importance of building relationships between people and environment. The discourses of a whanaungatanga connection to water that emerged from two Ngāi Tahu oral texts (Terea Te Waka mōteatea and the Ngāi Tahu creation story) and the Hauteruruku participants were: building connections to people; respect; mātauranga and māramatanga (understanding, wisdom) and; confidence. Hauteruruku operationalise the emergent discourses of a whanaungatanga connection to water through the materialisation of the physical waka (canoe), establishment and naming of the club and waka component of the PHSE 104 noho; through the enactment of the pōwhiri (ritual of encounter, welcoming ceremony) and karakia (incantation) and; through the inculcation of a waka, community and kaitiaki (guardian) identity. These discourses demonstrate the Hauteruruku perspective of Māori water safety as a whanaungatanga connection to water and the significance of building relationships and kinships to people and environment. In the third study of Te Taitimu Trust, connection to water is conveyed as wairua, the significance of healing the spirit through engagement with Tangaroa (Māori deity of the ocean). The discourses of a wairua connection to water that emerged from the Tangaroa karakia and Te Taitimu participants were: kaitiakitanga; healing; mahinga kai; atua; law and tikanga; tuakana-teina relationship; kaitiakitanga; māhaki and respect and; ancestors. Te Taitimu Trust operationalise the emergent discourses of a wairua connection to water through the materialisation of the establishment and naming of Te Taitimu trust, pool safety workshop and beach day; the enactment of wānanga and karakia and; the inculcation of a kaitiaki o Tangaroa (guardian of Tangaroa) identity and rangatira (chief, leader) identity. These discourses highlight the Te Taitimu Trust perspective of Māori water safety as a wairua connection to water emphasising healing the spirit and healing properties of Tangaroa. These findings from the three case studies frame Māori water safety discourse across diverse Māori social structures (whānau, hapū and iwi) and within multiple water environments (ocean, estuarine and freshwater). The results of this study have implications for drowning prevention and Māori water safety education at a whānau, hapū, iwi and national level. Nationally, this research contributes to the refresh of the Kia Maanu Kia Ora Māori Water Safety Strategy and maintains the 2020 vision of zero drownings in the country. Moreover, the discourses of connection to water have positive implications for hauora. Māori water safety is a connection to water and therefore a journey to the source of hauora and wellness; this is known as a journey to belonging.
Advisor: Jackson, Anne-Marie; Hakopa, Hauiti; Button, Chris
Degree Name: Doctor of Philosophy
Degree Discipline: School of Physical Education, Sport and Exercise Sciences
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: water safety; Māori water safety; Māori health; wairua; whakapapa; whanaungatanga; tikanga; mātauranga
Research Type: Thesis