Cracked coconuts : an exploration of why young Cook Islanders are leaving Cook Islander congregations of the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand
This research contributes to the growing literature on religious disaffiliation by considering the reasons why young Cook Islanders are leaving Cook Islander congregations of the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand (PCANZ). It suspects that issues concerning Cook Islands language and sense of identity are major contributing factors for leaving. In reviewing the development of Cook Islanders in both the Cook Islands and New Zealand, the study considers underlying cultural and social elements, and a proposed profile of a typical Cook Islander church Ieaver to better understand the influences upou them for leaving. The methodology for this study is a Mixed Methods approach that incorporates both qualitative and quantitative methods. It requires personal interviews of a sample of Cook Islanders to hear directly of their own experiences within a Cook Islander congregation. It also measures how many responded in a particular way to a particular issue. The research looks at details of Cook Islander congregations of the PCANZ to determine how prevalent or absent Cook Islander young adults (18-40 years) are in such congregations, in terms of membership and worship attendance. Contrary to the researcher's expectation, the findings show that people who had been raised in and were previously very committed to their Cook Islander congregation are leaving, but not primarily due to a sense of inadequacy with the Cook Islands language and identity. The research shows that such people leave due to transitions in the nature of their own circumstances and especially that of their relationships with others in their congregation. Given the complex relationship that exists between individuals, their church and the wider society, it is suggested that the sense of lack of command of the Cook Islands language and identity has a permeating effect upon most of the reasons given for young Cook Islanders disengaging with their congregation. The divergent changes to Cook Islanders' society within the wider New Zealand context, but to a lesser degree in Cook Islander congregations, are encouraging increasing numbers of younger generation Cook Islanders to re-evaluate their sense of belonging to such a community.
Degree Name: Master of Theology
Degree Discipline: Theology
Publisher: University of Otago
Research Type: Thesis