Kia mārama ai te ihi, te wehi o Mukukai: The influence of swimming on whānau engagement with water
Māori consider water to be the foundation of all life (Royal, 2010). It is a valued taonga gifted by our ancestors for the use of future generations (Hall, 2012). Māori have a long history of engagement with water through fishing, gathering kai, diving, waka, and swimming (Karapu, Haimona & Takurua, 2007; Wikaere, 2016; Selby & Moore, 2010). Yet, there have been limited studies that specifically examine the importance of swimming for Māori. Māori have always had expertise in swimming and recreating in and around water (Best, 1976). Despite this long history of engagement, there are ongoing issues including high drowning rates and increased environmental degradation of local rivers suggesting a disconnection between Māori and the water environment (Water Safety NZ, 2017; Kerr, 2012; Selby & Moore, 2010).In Ōtaki, our whānau (family) have had a long history of engagement with the Waitohu Stream and the Ōtaki River, using these waterways for sustenance and well-being. To encourage engagement with these rivers, our whānau valued swimming as a skill, which enhanced enjoyment when interacting with water. Whānau used the environment to learn to swim, to learn about the different purposes of water, consistently experiencing the life of the moving water (Stallman, Junge, & Blixt, 2008). This research examined a whānau perception of swimming to understand the benefits swimming has on Māori health and well-being. The aim of this research was to examine the influence swimming has in whānau engagement with water and how swimming can enhance hauora Māori through answering the research questions: Why do whānau engage with water? How does swimming influence whānau engagement with water? And how does swimming enhance hauora Māori? Kaupapa Māori Theory, pūrākau (stories) and a previously developed swimming framework were used as methodological tools for this study. Six interviews were conducted with eight whānau members. The data was analysed through thematic analysis using inductive and deductive analysis through the aforementioned methodologies. The key finding was that swimming is valued as a taonga tuku iho (treasure handed down) that has encouraged whānau to enjoy the life giving properties of water for generations. Swimming provides whānau the ability to embody and physically connect with whakapapa and local waterways. The key themes that emerged were: kaitiakitanga (guardianship), whakapapa (genealogy), ūkaipōtanga (sustenance), whanaungatanga (relationships) and whakatinanatanga (embodiment). These are all values that are implemented when swimming, framing a whānau perception of swimming and highlighting that swimming is more than a skill, it provides well-being for both people and the environment.
Advisor: Jackson, Anne-Marie; Hakopa, Hauiti
Degree Name: Master of Physical Education
Degree Discipline: School of Physical Education Sport and Exercise Sciences
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: water; whakapapa; swimming; whānau; Māori; watersafety
Research Type: Thesis