Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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A Cultural Approach to Music Therapy in New Zealand: a Maori Perspective

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posted on 2021-11-08, 23:21 authored by Kahui, Dennis Jon

The main theme of this study is to form a culturally appropriate approach to music therapy concepts from a Maori perspective that could be inclusive and accommodate both Maori and Tauiwi (non-Maori) Rangatahi (adolescents) in health care settings. In order to provide a descriptive account of the holistic aspects of introducing Maori musical concepts in a music therapy setting a qualitative design was employed. The study draws on my personal journal entries, an interview with Kaumatua (Maori respected elders) regarding the appropriateness of introducing and altering traditional Maori musicality to accommodate the patient's needs and a case study involving the Haka as a music therapy intervention strategy with a young Maori patient diagnosed with schizophrenia. My findings show that as a music therapist consultation with Kaumatua regarding anything related to Maori cultural aspects was essential. I also found that when working with a Maori Rangatahi who is immersed in Maori culture, it created an atmosphere of containment, familiarity, enjoyment, engagement and an environment that facilitated the achievement of therapeutic goals. Te Whare Tapa Wha Maori mental health model is well suited as a music therapy assessment tool to the characteristics of the physical, emotional, spiritual and family context of the Haka. I also found that Tauiwi music therapists wishing to introduce cultural elements must first learn about Maori culture and the people in order to confidently understand the music. Tauiwi Rangatahi may also benefit from the introduction of Maori musicality as a therapeutic means by being an inclusive member of the community and the positive psychological effects. For example, Rangatahi benefited from learning the proper pronunciation and meaning of the Haka, which in turn gave them a sense of achievement. I also found that some Maori protocols fit well with the protocols of music therapy, such as the beginning and endings with a hello and goodbye song.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Music Therapy

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Music Therapy

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

New Zealand School of Music


Rickson, Daphne; Hoskyns, Sarah