Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Ngā Pā Harakeke O Ngati Porou: A Lived Experience of Whānau

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posted on 2021-11-13, 10:11 authored by Walker, Taingunguru Whangapirita

Māori live within a post-colonial society, and were subjected to colonisation, warfare, land loss and urbanisation. These policies changed Māori from an agrarian society into an industrialised society within the cities. The impact on whānau of this included the separation from traditional lands, marae, hapu, iwi and the support of other whānau members. Māori living in cities were then categorised as urban Māori, which does not sit comfortably with participants in this study, who reject this term. This thesis explores, with Ngati Porou participants, their lived experience of whānau. The views of three age cohorts are canvassed in order to identify whether their understandings of whānau differ. These three cohorts were divided as follows: 65 years and over; 35–64 and 21–34. A total of thirty-eight participants were interviewed. They spoke passionately about who they were, where they came from and why they valued whānau. This is a qualitative research project, which utilises both Western and a Māori/tribal worldview. It was of importance to ensure that the data retained the Māori messages and the essence of the kōrero. A whakapapa and whānau sampling method was used to identify hapu and whānau. Face-to-face interviews were conducted, using a „snowball‟ technique. Some of the issues explored included who participants counted as members of whānau, the various whānau types identified by the literature (kaupapa whānau, whaamere, family, virtual whānau, new whānau, statistical whānau and whānau ora) and whether the „whānau mantra‟ is a „myth‟. Participants were asked for their views on the roles within whānau, what strengthens and divides whānau and whānau leadership. Other topics explored were the role of whāngai within whānau, cross-cultural relationships, maintaining whakapapa links, urbanisation and the impact of policies on whānau. Recently, government has begun to use whānau within policies in ways that differ from the lived experience of whānau. Academics have also used the metaphor of whānau in an attempt to explain some of the contemporary groupings of Māori, such as kapa haka activities. The pakeke cohort, most of whom lived within the tribal area, were totally involved with whānau, hapu and iwi. The middle cohort, most of whom were employed, were involved with whānau and marae when required. They cared for both mokopuna and aging parents. There were other qualities they valued in addition to whakapapa. The youngest cohort, some of whom were young parents, were passionate about being members of whānau. Because many of them had been born away from the tribal area, they felt the need to traverse the lands where their tīpuna had lived, worked and played in order for the whakapapa to become real. This thesis has identified that whakapapa is of the utmost importance to the participants‟ understanding of whānau, and that this shapes their lived experience.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

New Zealand Studies

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Doctoral Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

Stout Research Centre


Hill, Richard; Dew, Kevin