Purposeful conception : customary traditions and contemporary applications of Te Whare Tangata in the creation of wellbeing : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for a Master of Philosophy in Rehabilitation Studies at Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand

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Massey University
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Māori continue to feature significantly in New Zealand statistics for mental health. Customary traditions and contemporary applications of te whare tangata in creating wellbeing discusses the ways in which te whare tangata traditions were engaged to protect and nurture Māori women in their role as the architects of future generations and further ensure positive wellbeing. Framed inside qualitative research methods and guided by kaupapa Māori research theories provided a tikanga framework, thereby maintaining cultural responsiveness to the research using Mana wāhine theories and providing a safe space to discuss the historic struggle Māori women have endured as a result of colonisation. Six Māori women of kuia status from Te Taitokerau participated in semi-structured interviews, discussing their observations, experience and active roles of te whare tangata across their life span. Kuia narratives are organised into the three stages of creation - Te Kore, Te Pō and Te Ao Mārama - with each stage representing a significant developmental period in te whare tangata. The customary traditions of te whare tangata have their origins in Māori cosmology which provided Māori with the blueprint to survive in volatile environments, none more volatile than the migration of western cultures and colonisation, which took Māori to the brink of extinction. However, Kuia Participants share stories of resistance and resilience in their own journeys through life and of how the customary traditions of te whare tangata have been transformed and remain relevant. Kuia narratives consistently reflect upon relationship building and maintenance being at the core of Māori wellbeing. They spoke about relationships not only being across human cultures, but the ability to develop relationships with all that surround us.
Maori women, Maori mental health, Whare tangata, Maori well-being, Maori knowledge