Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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“He reached across the river and healed the generations of hara”: Structural violence, historical trauma, and healing among contemporary Whanganui Māori

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posted on 2021-11-15, 13:55 authored by Tarapuhi VaeauTarapuhi Vaeau

This thesis provides insights into the unique forms of oppression that Māori face today. It explores how Māori experience, understand, and heal from historical trauma in contemporary Aotearoa/New Zealand. It does this by arguing that space, state bureaucracies, and public discourse can be violent, and considering sites of (re)traumatisation for my participants, specifically by examining the internalisation of responsibilisation and colonial discourse disseminated through the media and government processes, underlining the implications for health care. I show the ways that space constructs and reproduces relations of power and surveillance. As well I explore spaces that act as living symbols of inequality. This thesis uses structural violence and historical trauma to frame this analysis and thus highlights the lived experience where neoliberalism and colonialism intersect. The understandings that are presented here are informed by seven months of fieldwork which was guided by a kaupapa Māori framework and used participant observation and interviews with Māori who have iwi affiliations to the Whanganui River. Using stories from eleven participants, as well as autoethnography, this thesis demonstrates the importance of whakapapa, whanaungatanga, and wairuatanga in healing for Māori.


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Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Master of Arts

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Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Social and Cultural Studies


Gibson, Lorena; Trundle, Catherine