The Kaumātua Mana Motuhake Project

Tuakana-teina/peer-support - Kaumātua working with kaumātua

Dean of the Faculty of Māori and Indigenous Studies, Professor Brendan Hokowhitu, is leading one of five projects that were funded as part of Ageing Well’s 2016 Contestable Funding Round. This collaborative research between the University of Waikato and Rauawaawa Kaumātua  Charitable Trust aims to address the mana motuhake/identity-autonomy of kaumātua (older Māori aged 55-plus).

The focus is the health outcomes of a ‘tuakana-teina’ peer-educator model in relation to wellness, social connectedness, life enhancement and life transitions. An orientation programme that introduced life-transition-experienced kaumātua to the role of tuakana/peer educator in the context of peer support was developed. These kaumātua will serve as tuakana for other kaumātua who are teina/peers currently “in-experience” with life transitions.

Launched in January, this project will train experienced kaumātua to help peers undergoing a significant life transition—for instance, loss of independence, loss of a spouse, or changing health conditions.

Kaumātua who have experienced a ‘significant transition’ are the best people to be working and mentoring with other kaumātua who may be experiencing something very similar. It’s a strength-based approach that respects the knowledge and skills kaumātua have in abundance.”

When ageing is often portrayed in a negative light, for Māori “being a kaumātua is positive thing”. The project will not only empower individual kaumātua involved in the programme (and benefit their whānau, hāpu, and iwi), but also offer an “opportunity for not just Māori but all of New Zealand to reframe the discourses surrounding our ageing population.”

One of the great strengths of this project is that it is community-based research. Prof. Hokowhitu and his team are working side-by-side with the Rauawaawa Kaumātua Charitable Trust.   For more information on the project you can view a presentation on the project here.