Work-life balance : exploring the perspectives of Māori employees : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Psychology at Massey University, Aotearoa New Zealand

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The work–life balance literature is well established, however the conceptualisations and experiences of Māori employees are grossly underrepresented. This thesis addresses that gap by exploring Māori perspectives of work–life balance. Three research questions guided this thesis: 1. How do Māori employees understand work–life balance? 2. How do Māori employees prioritise their mahi and other life responsibilities? 3. What are the experiences of Māori employees of their employing organisations supporting them to achieve good work–life balance? A Kaupapa Māori Research approach (by, with, for Māori) was adopted, which took for granted the validity and legitimacy of Māori knowledge and worldviews. In-depth, semi-structured, and kānohi-ki-te-kānohi interviews were conducted with eight Māori employees living in the Wairoa district. These Participating Experts (participants) were securely enculturated in their worldviews as Māori, and employed by either Māori-led or Pākehā-led organisations. Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) was used to help interpret the research findings. Data analysis resulted in four themes: work–life balance as grounded in one’s identity as Māori; values, beliefs, and practices (VB&Ps); important life priorities; and the role of the employing organisation. Analysis revealed that Māori identity is central to how my Participating Experts conceptualise work–life balance. Furthermore, to achieve good work–life balance, Participating Experts need to be able to enact their identities as Māori within the workplace. However, tensions arose due to incongruences between their Māori worldviews and capitalist/Western organisational structures. My Participating Experts described valuing relationships, collective wellbeing, and fulfilling cultural responsibilities, which sometimes clashed with employing organisations valuing individualism and economic efficiencies. Therefore, work–life tensions emerged when Participating Experts were unable to enact their identities as Māori, driven by their need to stay grounded in being Māori, while still being ‘good’ employees. This research addresses a notable gap in the work–life literature, but more is needed to achieve the transformational change required to better support Māori employees.
Māori Masters Thesis