The information seeking behaviours of Māori secondary school students : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy at Massey University, Manawatū campus, New Zealand
Current knowledge of the information seeking behaviour of Māori secondary school students is extremely limited.
The objective of this study was to determine how Māori students access and use information to make sense of the two worlds they live in. The research results demonstrated that they have a distinct preference for seeking information from other people, rather than print and electronic sources. A key part of the information behaviour involved exchanging and sharing information within and between social networks. Fisher’s information grounds theory was used to investigate and interpret the information networking behaviour.
The study was conducted using a mixed methodology and determined that the students participated in social networks in three different zones, at school, in social and virtual settings, and cultural situations. Each of these zones has sub-areas where information sharing and exchange transactions take place. At school the sub-areas are in formal and casual situations, and in the hostel zone. The social zones include shopping malls, foodcourts, ‘downtown’ destinations, cafes, parties, church and virtual environments. The cultural zones were identified as marae and whānau dwellings.
The research results revealed that Māori students encounter a wide range of barriers in the process of seeking information, including not always being able to access the information they want due to its ‘unavailability’, or their perception that the information is incorrect. Access to information technology and the internet remain significant barriers for students to overcome. The study revealed that the types of barriers encountered by students varied according to the cultural context they were seeking the information in. It was found that individuals that have strong sense of their Māori cultural identity have an inner confidence that leads to them experiencing fewer information barriers when seeking information in the two cultural worlds they are part of.
The study concludes by presenting a model that is created from the research data and is based on three tikanga Māori principles: the principle of kaupapa whakakaha (strength), the principle of kaupapa tuakiri (identity) and the principle of kaupapa atawhai (humanity). The principle of kaupapa whakakaha includes the values of rangatiratanga (self-determination), whakamana (status), pono (trust), wairuatanga (spirituality) and whakamowai (humility). The principle of kaupapa tuakiri includes the values of whakapapa (legitimacy), iwitanga (tribal pride), te reo (language), whanaungātanga (relationships) and kotahitanga (unity). The principle of kaupapa atawhai includes tau-utuutu (reciprocity), awhina (assistance), rehia (enjoyment) and tautoko (support).
This model demonstrates that indigenous (in this case Māori) values are important factors in the successful sharing and exchange of information between Māori secondary school students. The result of this research is the discovery that Māori students who form social networks use these values as a basis for identifying the desired behaviours within their group and when interacting with other groups. Although there are fifteen values, it is not necessary for all of them to be present every time, as the gathering point and those who are there will determine which are relevant to that particular situation. The presence of the selected values within a group will determine whether it is a ‘safe’ environment for those present to exchange and share information,