What does it mean to be a Māori doctor? Historical and contemporary perspectives.
Background: Māori are under-represented in the medical workforce; however, numbers of Māori medical doctors are beginning to grow. This research explores what it means to be a Māori doctor utilising Kaupapa Māori methodology. By collecting and documenting the stories, challenges and opportunities of Māori doctors, this research hopes to inform and inspire Māori who aspire for, or are involved in medicine, and create perspectives for both Māori workforce development and the health workforce. Review of Literature: The first ten Māori doctors were identified from Dr Paratene Ngata’s speech “The Whakapapa of Māori Doctors in Aotearoa NZ” (Ngata, 2002). Relevant literature was found on each doctor through the Otago library, Te Ara, the National library, Papers past and Te Ao Hou magazine databases, and anything thought relevant by the supervisors was also read for referencing. The focus was on the Doctors’ contributions to health and the attributes they possessed; many similarities were found. Methods: Participants were eleven Māori doctors currently working in Aotearoa, New Zealand, aged between twenty-four and seventy-five years, and one pilot was used. A selection matrix of Māori doctors was created, encompassing diversity in gender, stage in career, specialty, and location. Kaupapa Māori methodology was used. Qualitative interviews took place in a place comfortable to both research student and participant and were audio recorded, to be later transcribed and thematically analysed using Nvivo software. Results: In this section the results of the twelve participants, including the pilot, are described in six themes; their journey thus far, their support, roles they have taken, expectations of them, what being a Māori doctor means to them and their aspirations. Key findings included high levels of commitment to being a Māori doctor, diverse journeys and experiences, with some common experiences. There was a high prevalence of expectations on them from others to be experts with a Māori patient, and to be culturally, and clinically, competent. The pressure and responsibility from expectations was commented on. The participants had many professional roles, serving on boards, taking leading roles in health programmes and lecturing. Connections and whakawhanaungatanga (building relationships) was a common theme brought up as a real strength of Māori doctors. Giving back was a key theme brought up, and Māori doctors having a key role to play in Māori health, and being role models and leaders to everyone. Isolation was a prominent theme for the participants, whether it was isolation from other Māori doctors, or isolation within Māori doctors, about who is more or less Māori. Conclusion: The stories of Māori doctors, both historical and contemporary, have similar attributes and aspirations, including mātauranga Māori (knowledge of Māori culture), aroha (compassion), niwha (determination), taking up leadership roles and challenges, and responding to the needs of the next generation. The application of the doctors’ attributes and aspirations was seen both in a community setting, and in a wider, political level, questioning the view of one doctor being more Māori than another. Even though both the historical and contemporary doctors have taken different paths, they share a destination.
Advisor: Baxter, Joanne; Dawson, Anna
Degree Name: Bachelor of Medical Science with Honours
Degree Discipline: Kōhatu, Centre for Hauora Māori
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: New Zealand; Māori Doctor; Kaupapa Māori; Māori medical workforce; First Māori Doctors
Research Type: Thesis