Getting insight into the wellbeing needs of Māori youth : perspectives of students attending alternative education : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology at Massey University, Albany, New Zealand

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Massey University
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This research seeks to explore the wellbeing needs of rangatahi Māori (Māori youth) who attend alternative education (AE) in New Zealand (NZ). Rangatahi Māori have a significant disadvantage compared to non-Māori due to disparities in educational attainment and mental health standing. Rangatahi Māori who attend AE are at an even greater disadvantage as they have been excluded from mainstream education, and in attending AE, are identified as a population of youth displaying the highest proportion of health-risk behaviours in NZ. This research produces evidence that holistic approaches to wellbeing are needed to improve outcomes for rangatahi Māori. The study develops a methodological framework for a Māori-centred research praxis, using pūrākau as a form of narrative inquiry and photo-elicitation as an ancillary tool in facilitating rangatahi Māori voices. Both rangatahi Māori and their AE tutor’s perspectives are collected through kanohi-ki-te-kanohi (face-to-face interviews) and focus groups. Key findings identify a range of wellbeing needs for rangatahi Māori, in their whānau (family), school and personal life, after they have navigated mainstream education and are placed within AE environments. Findings demonstrate the importance of rangatahi Māori feeling connected in their relationships and with their environment. This includes relationships with their whānau, tutors, romantic relationships, friendships and connection to their school environment. Rangatahi Māori need to have positive connections with the people in their life and their environment to best support their wellbeing. Findings indicate that whānau-like environments within AE promote school engagement. Furthermore, rangatahi Māori are advantaged when their connections and networks in the greater community are facilitated through their whānau-like relationships within AE. This thesis contributes new knowledge about the wellbeing needs of rangatahi Māori and concludes that a wider pūnaha hauropi (socio-ecological system) approach should be considered to optimise the wellbeing of rangatahi Māori who have or are at risk of experiencing school disenfranchisement.
Maori (New Zealand people), Education (Secondary), New Zealand, Youth, Maori, Attitudes, Psychology, Well-being, Alternative education, Taiohi, Whakamātau hinengaro taiohi, Ora, Mātauranga, Māori Doctoral Thesis