Māori & Psychology Research Unit

Research Programmes

Hospital transfers: Whānau involvement (Dr Bridgette Masters-Awatere)
Precarious Māori households in austere Times (Dr Mohi Rua)
Challenges and continuities: Māori language revitalisation (Dr Waikaremoana Waitoki)

Research Interest Areas

  • Kaupapa Māori Psychology
  • Health and Wellbeing
  • Culture
  • Sustainability & Climate Change
  • Positive Māori Psychology
  • Indigenous Psychology
  • Māori Mental Health
  • Mātauranga Māori
  • Māori Flourishing
  • Health Inequalities

Research in Progress

Project title: Te Manaaki o te Marae: the role of marae in Tamaki Maori housing crisis

Investigators: Rau Hoskins (UNITEC) and Assoc Prof Jenny Lee-Morgan (Waikato University)

Funding: $993,337.00. Funding period: 2017 (August) – 2019 (July) from National Science Challenges – Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities.

Project title: Resilient Legacies - Manawa te taonga tuku iho: the application and influence of taonga tuku iho in rugby.

Investigators: Dr Farah Palmer, Massey University (principle), associate investigators: Dr Mohi Rua, Dr Carwyn Jones (Victoria University), Jeremy Hapeta (Massey University) and Prof Te Kani Kingi (Te Whare Wananga o Awanuiarangi).

Funding: $250,000 by Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga. 

Project title: Challenges and Continuities: Unintended Consequences of Māori Language Revitalisation Efforts

Investigators: Dr Waikaremoana Waitoki, Professor Linda Waimarie Nikora, Dr Virginia Tamanui, Mr Tiniwai Te Whetu, Emeritus Professor Ngahuia Te Awekotuku & Professor Angus Macfarlane.

Grant Agency: Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga (CoRE) 2016-2018

Objectives: We are now 30+ years on from when our children first had the opportunity to attend Kōhanga Reo. They are a part of a fortunate generation, like those who will follow them. But what of those older Māori, their parents and grandparents, some of who do speak te reo, but some who do not? What challenges to tikanga, age-related roles and relationships do these shifts present? Status, mana, roles, responsibilities, ritual duties and leadership are all age-related concepts that, in the Māori world, assume a foundation of learning that leads to experience, competence and accumulated wisdom over time. What happens when language ability is prioritised over age and wisdom? We will explore situations where a younger person has performed the rituals needed in formal situations that have traditionally been performed by pakeke (older adultsO, such as: karanga, whaikōrero, waiata, whakatau, mihimihi or simply saying karakia at the beginning of gatherings or meals.

Project title: Hospital Transfers Whānau Involvement in the Healing Equation

Principal Investigators: Dr Bridgette Masters-Awatere (PI) Dr Donna Cormack

Grant agency: Ngā Pae o te Maramatanga (CoRE) 2016-2019

Objectives: While all hospitalisations can be stressful for patients and their whānau, hospitalisations involving transfers away from home can be even more so and can present unique issues in terms of how whānau negotiate distance, unfamiliarity, active engagement and help-seeking. In this study, we are interested in better understanding how whānau facilitate support and remain actively engaged in the ‘care equation’ when a whānau member is transferred or hospitalised away from their home location. Knowledge of where whānau go and why in hospital care is important to understanding the flows of support and decision-making between whānau members and the significance of engagements with hospital staff, structures and systems. Our aim in this project is to understand and positively influence the interface between whānau and hospitals in order to present a road-map of ways to facilitate active involvement in achieving optimal wellbeing outcomes for whānau members hospitalised away from home.

Project title: Precarious Māori Households in Austere Times

Principal Investigators: Dr Mohi Rua, Prof Darrin Hodgetts (Massey University) & Dr Ottilie Stolte (University of Waikato)

Grant agency: Ngā Pae o te Maramatanga (CoRE) 2016-2019

Objectives: This project documents the plight of eight Māori households and their culturally-patterned and evolving responses
to socio-economic marginalisation. We consider barriers to human flourishing in these households as well as the potential for human patterns of connections and practices to not only buffer whānau against adversity, but also to promote human flourishing. The project addresses a number of interrelated questions. What do available statistics tell us about the composition, connections, challenges and resources of Māori precariat households? What does socio-economic marginalisation look like in the everyday lives of Māori precariat households? What are the everyday restraints on human flourishing faced by these households? How do households deploy cultural connections and practices to cope and push against the boundaries of their socio-economically restrained lifeworlds in ways that promote human flourishing?

Project title: The Embrace of our Ancestors: Reimagining and Recontextualising Mātauranga Māori in Psychology

Principal Investigators: Dr Waikaremoana Waitoki & Dr Maree Roche

Grant Agency: Royal Society of New Zealand (2019-2021).

Objectives: The growing presence of mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge) in psychology represents a trend to resist the dominance of Western psychology as a universal paradigm of wellbeing for Māori. This research will explore the contributions of Māori knowledge to growing an Indigenous psychology that will produce new, empirical theories, cohere fragmented knowledge, decolonise psychology and enhance transdisciplinary collaborations. Using a kaupapa Māori theoretical lens, we will consider and debate the wealth of interrelated knowledge about whānau, creative arts, the environment, and spirituality that hover in places invisible to Western psychology. We will examine the repositories of Māori traditional knowledge held in archives, museums, and marae, to uncover wellbeing narratives of the past. Linkages to the present will be revealed by using the Critical Incident Technique, which offers a flexible, open-ended enquiry tool to mediate collaborative conversations with 100 psychologists, counsellors, psychiatrists, elders and healers. The research findings will contribute to a textbook on the theory of Māori Indigenous psychology; peer-reviewed journal articles, and importantly reclamation of Māori-defined solutions for those seeking wellness.

See a full list of our Past Projects.