Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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"It is hard being a person who is different". Rangatahi lived experiences of racism and ableism in different spaces in Aotearoa.

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posted on 2024-06-10, 00:45 authored by Kate Barwick

Abstract Young people (rangatahi) are the leaders, innovators, explorers of tomorrow, so understanding and enhancing the health and wellbeing (hauora) of rangatahi in New Zealand (Aotearoa) is a key priority for our future as a nation. Addressing the impacts of racism and ableism for rangatahi in spaces, such as schools, commercial and whānau spaces should be a key focus considering these are spaces that rangatahi spend a significant proportion of their life in. My thesis aims to understand rangatahi everyday lived experiences of racism and ableism in spaces that they occupy and understand how this impacts their hauora. To answer this research question, this thesis draws on pre-existing data from 45 open-ended interviews with diverse rangatahi (20 rangatahi Māori and 25 Tauiwi rangatahi) based in Auckland (Tāmaki Makaurau) to create a collaborative in-depth understanding of rangatahi hauora narratives. Interviews were analysed using reflexive thematic analysis, while being grounded in a Kaupapa Māori approach to ensure a commitment to action and transformation was undertaken. Analysis illustrated how Māori experiences of racism left them feeling singled out, stereotyped of what a ‘true Māori’ looked like and judged as different by white able-bodied people. For Tauiwi racism experiences saw them outcast and left them feeling unsafe to be in school spaces, instead finding comfort at home. Rangatahi experiencing ableism due to non-visible disabilities were often seen as lazy or not trying due to preconceived assumptions. They were left to continuously explain their disability and fight for the same resources and opportunities as able-bodied people. Rangatahi felt they needed to educate people about disabilities to receive the support and resources needed to gain good hauora. Overall, rangatahi felt judged and under pressure to change themselves to fit the narrow confinement of normalcy due to colonial ideas. Colonial ideas continue to push racist and ableist ideologies onto rangatahi to keep them segregated and othered within colonial spaces. My thesis supports rangatahi calls for change to ensure the hauora and lived daily experiences of future generations are unburdened by racist and ableist interactions.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Health Psychology

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Health Psychology

ANZSRC Socio-Economic Outcome code

200204 Health inequalities

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

1 Pure basic research

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Alternative Language


Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Health


Calder-Dawe, Octavia; Carlson, Teah