Perceptions of Papakāinga: An examination of ‘home’ and how to cater services for Māori

Project commenced:

This study will explore how comparative views of “home” relate to concepts such as identity, whakapapa, and hauora and how these concepts thereby impact service utilisation and uptake in two areas (one rural and one urban). The research seeks to ask

How do urban and rural Māori conceptualise “home” and do these ideas of home differ across generations?
Do perceptions of home affect decisions to access services (education, health, financial, etc.?). If so, how?
How can services be improved to incorporate these views / perceptions of home?

The importance of the attachment to place for Māori has been well-established in the research and has been the focus of research such as: Jahnke 2002; and Butcher & Brehney 2016. Such importance is also ubiquitously referenced in the practice of pepēha, or sharing of whakapapa, in relation to aspects of whenua such as awa, and maunga. While it has been established that home is a “multidimensional concept” (Mallet 2004), there is still a dearth of research with reference to the diverse and possibly contradictory meanings of “home” for urban and rural Māori across generations.

Not only is there a lack of research on the meanings of “home”, but a lack of research on the implication of how Māori from different backgrounds and generations, think of, and consider their homes and what that means for their identities and accessing specific services. Te Haerenga – Journeying towards an Urban Māori identity, an article authored by the project team, explains the characteristics of Māori across 3 categories of migration: Manawa Roa (first generation who travelled from their hau kāinga); Manawa Tītī (half of whānau migrated); and Manawa Ora (all born in Auckland and raised in urban marae). Allport, White & Te Whiu’s Catalysts of Health report (2017) showed, for example, that kaumātua experience “home” in various ways. Absent from the literature are the varied views of “home” from other generational groupings. Furthermore, we do not know how or whether perceptions of “home” impact health and well-being and the services employed to cater for Māori in urban and rural areas.

If, for instance, someone living in the city who has ancestral ties to a rural environment considers their ancestral home to be inaccessible, or even considers their urban residence their true home, what services might they access in the city, that are offered in their ancestral home, to maintain their hauora, or as discussed in the literature, their identity? For instance, does the individual enrol at a course in the city to learn te reo Māori, rather than return to the rural area they whakapapa to, and learn from their whānau? This logic may yield a nuanced look at reasons for different levels of uptake, participation, and preference in service provision for Māori.

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