The wide variety of cultural and social features among Māori present a formidable challenge to those who seek to understand Māori identity – what ‘it’ is and how ‘it’ may be conceptualised and defined.
In an effort to address the need for detailed empirical research and theory on Māori identity, Dr Carla Houkamau (Ngāti Kahungunu/Ngāti Porou) leads a programme of research exploring how various aspects of Māori identity relate to attitudes, behaviours and socio-economic outcomes. The work was initiated in 2009 when Carla and Dr Chris Sibley (Department of Psychology, The University of Auckland) developed the Multidimensional Measure of Māori Identity and Cultural Engagement (MMM-ICE). Based on social-psychological perspectives, MMM-ICE assesses (via self-report) the multi-faceted dimensions of what people may personally associate with being Māori. “It is important that we understand as much as possible about how Māori personally perceive their Māori identities, as research has found that having a positive sense of yourself as Māori promotes wellbeing”, says Dr Houkamau. “Although Māori are now more diverse than ever, most of what is written about Māori people and culture is generalised, locks people in to perceiving Maori identity in relation to traditional cultural features and does not account for individual perceptions of what it means to be Māori. We want to help understand Māori diversity. In particular we want to learn more about how Māori people personally see and express their own identities.”
The collection of data on contemporary Māori identity using this particular approach is innovative, and unprecedented in New Zealand. Since its inception over 1500 Māori from all over New Zealand have completed the MMM-ICE and results of this work has been published in several papers focused mainly on the protective function of Māori identity and cultural knowledge for Māori .people. Although relatively new, this research has the capacity to understand Māori identity more broadly (particularly the way in which self-perceptions may relate to wellbeing in various domains), and also to contribute to our knowledge about the relationship between Māori identity and Māori participation in various fields, such as health, medicine, accounting, and economics, and thus further our understanding of the nature of Māori engagement in the workforce and their contribution to New Zealand’s economy.
In this presentation Carla provides a background and theoretical explanation of the MMM-ICE and outline practical implications. The presentation will also discuss current projects as well as the launch of the MMM-ICE online – a collaboration with Dr. Tim West-Newman and Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga.
Dr Carla Houkamau is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Management and International Business in Auckland University. Carla was raised in Napier New Zealand and is of Pākehā and Māori descent. Her affiliations are Ngāti Kahungunu (Ngāti Kere) and Ngāti Porou (Whanau o Tu- Whakairiora). Carla completed her PhD in Psychology at The University of Auckland (2006) under the Health Research Council Scholarship programme as well as a Bachelor of Commerce (Conjoint) in Management and Employment Relations. Carla’s PhD reports a qualitative study of psycho-social factors shaping identity for three generations of Māori women. Her current research programme is concerned with Māori identity and diversity management: in particular, how Māori identity relates to well-being and how proactive diversity management can foster a positive work environment for individuals from diverse backgrounds.
Dr Chris Sibley is a senior lecturer in social psychology of Pakeha descent. He teaches in courses relating to social psychology and research methods. Chris is the lead researcher for the New Zealand Attitudes and Values Study.