He urupounamu e whakahaerengia ana e te whānau : whānau decision processes : a thesis submitted for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Public Health (Māori), Massey University.

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Massey University
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A whanau is a social construct of Maori society in Aotearoa/New Zealand that is likened to an extended family. This thesis describes principles and practice that whanau utilise in decision processes from the findings of a retrospective qualitative case study of three whanau, who decided to participate in genetic research into a medical condition affecting their health. Four elements of whanau decision processes emerged from the data. Hui, rangatiratanga, manaakitanga and kotahitanga are Maori constructs that emphasise the collective nature of whanau decision making, and substantiate philosophical, theoretical and anecdotal evidence that Maori have distinctive ways of reaching decisions, underpinned by unique philosophical conventions. The results of this research place greater significance on the process of decision making than actual decisions, an incidental finding that has not been articulated by previous studies of Maori health and whanau. Contrary to western theoretical knowledge of decision making, whanau decision processes are collective activities. Individual decision making is closely linked to and depends on the collective, because individual identity manifests from the collective, and individual wellbeing is closely linked to that of the collective. When decision processes are familiar to members of a whanau, they are more likely to engage in decision making because they have a greater sense of knowledge and thus control of the processes, and they feel more able to contribute meaningfully to achieving aspirations for their own health. This thesis provides evidence that the New Zealand health sector, health legislation and policies are largely unfavourable for guaranteeing whanau engagement in decision processes. Yet, whanau decision making is an overall objective of the Government’s Maori Health Strategy: He Korowai Oranga, to address inequalities in health between Maori and other New Zealanders that have unacceptably become the norm.
Maori health, Public health, Whanau, Decision-making, Hauora