Perceptions of Papakāinga: An examination of "home" for Māori

Dr Tanya Allport - IIRC
Wednesday, November 18, 2020

The idea of being ‘safe and well at home’ has taken on an unprecedented importance within the rapidly developing Coronavirus COVID-19 crisis. New Zealand’s COVID-19 response has centralised ‘home’ as the ‘safest place to be’, specifically during level 3 and 4 lock-down measures. Home constitutes a place of wellbeing, which contrasts to ‘away from home’ places as potential sites of infection and subsequent personal and public health impacts. For Māori, the essence of what forms a place of wellbeing is not generally included or acknowledged in government discourses around ‘home’, and is therefore inadequately represented within polices, resourcing and services.

This presentation discusses the findings of Perceptions of Papakāinga: An examination of ‘home’ and how to cater services for Māori, a 12-month study undertaken by Whakauae Research and Wai Research, which explores comparative Māori views of ‘home’ in the Rangitīkei and Tāmaki Makaurau.

The research project has been designed to address the current lack of evidence and knowledge concerning Māori perceptions, experiences and realities of what is needed from policy and service design for Māori to not just have a house, but to ‘be at home’ where and how they choose. While ‘home’ is a multidimensional concept (Mallett, 2004), little is known about the different elements of ‘home’ within Māori experience, or the diverse complexities that shape that experience.

This presentation will highlight the emerging themes around the meaning of ‘home’ for three different generations of Māori living in different geographical locations and how these meanings shape or influence the perception of how to ‘be well at home’. The presentation will also explore the meanings and functions of cultural elements such as ‘tūrangawaewae’, ‘papakāinga’ and ‘ahi kā’ and how these may relate to concepts such as identity, whakapapa, and hauora within the understanding of ‘home’.

By investigating the views, attitudes, and perceptions of Māori community members in two distinct communities (rural and urban) to understand what ‘home’ means to them, the research has been able to identify that ‘home’ is more than a spatial notion, and that there are a range of holistically connected aspects that need to be considered if we are to deliver effective and sustainable solutions around Māori being ‘at home’. As Māori meanings of ‘home’ are adapting, developing and changing, especially in the current COVID-19 context, the findings from this research contribute to the significant thinking that needs to influence future policy direction and also highlight areas that require further investigation.