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No hea koe? Finding the answer could help Maori health - Auckland University

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

A study hoping to make a positive difference for Māori health in Aoteoroa will focus on those who might not have whakapapa knowledge and identity.

Dr Lara Greaves (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Kuri) from the University of Auckland has received a $169,550 Emerging Researcher (Rangahau Hauora Māori stream) grant from the Health Research Council (HRC) for her two-year project: The Māori in-between? Identity, health, and social service access needs.

‘Nō hea koe’ (Where are you from?) is a common question in Te Ao Māori and in the answer, Māori express their identity links to people, places and Iwi, but tracing whakapapa can be fraught with difficulties, says Dr Greaves.

"A strong cultural identity has been shown to buffer against the effects of racism and continued colonisation,however, a segment of the population (who don’t have that link) may feel they fall in between mainstream social service providers and Kaupapa Māori or Iwi-based provider."

She says a result of colonisation has meant that it can be challenging for some Māori to engage with Māori culture and in Māori spaces.

"A lot of knowledge has been taken from us across generations."

Dr Greaves’ research will explore differences between Māori in cultural connection, mainly focusing on those who don’t know their iwi, but also including other combinations of descent, ethnicity and iwi affiliation.

"I’m specifically focusing on those who do not identify with an iwi in the 2013 Census and asking, Is this group mainly Pākehā that have Māori whakapapa they are not connected to? Or is there a group of people who only identify their ethnicity as Māori, but do not know their iwi or are disconnected from their iwi?"

The project will use the Youth19 and Māori Identity and Financial Attitudes survey data, as well as data from the Integrated Data Infrastructure (administrative data collected by Statistics NZ) to identify these patterns and link them to social service use and health outcomes.

She also wants to look at how living within one’s iwi rohe (area) might give a positive boost to some of these statistics.

"I want to see what identity patterns there are in the data and then try to find out what these groups need and how they might differ from each other," says Dr Greaves.

"This will help us provide profiles of groups who might need social or health services, which I hope will be useful information for those working in that field."

Dr Greaves is also working with the Public Policy Institute at the University of Auckland to make sure this research will have an impact from a policy advice point of view.

Dr Lara Greaves is a lecturer in Politics and International Relations in the Faculty of Arts at the University of Auckland.

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