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Enacting Mana Māori Motuhake during COVID-19 in Aotearoa (New Zealand): “We Weren’t Waiting to Be Told What to Do”
journal contributionposted on 2023-05-15, 07:50 authored by Lynne RussellLynne Russell, Michelle Levy, Elizabeth Barnao, Nora Parore, Kirsten Smiler, Amohia Boulton
Māori, the Indigenous people of Aotearoa (New Zealand), were at the centre of their country’s internationally praised COVID-19 response. This paper, which presents the results of qualitative research conducted with 27 Māori health leaders exploring issues impacting the effective delivery of primary health care services to Māori, reports this response. Against a backdrop of dominant system services closing their doors or reducing capacity, iwi, hapū and rōpū Māori (‘tribal’ collectives and Māori groups) immediately collectivised, to deliver culturally embedded, comprehensive COVID-19 responses that served the entire community. The results show how the exceptional and unprecedented circumstances of COVID-19 provided a unique opportunity for iwi, hapū and rōpū Māori to authentically activate mana motuhake; self-determination and control over one’s destiny. Underpinned by foundational principles of transformative Kaupapa Māori theory, Māori-led COVID-19 responses tangibly demonstrated the outcomes able to be achieved for everyone in Aotearoa when the wider, dominant system was forced to step aside, to be replaced instead with self-determining, collective, Indigenous leadership.