Mātauranga Māori to underpin research into social housing crisis

Manaaki Whenua, Manaaki Tangata, Haere Whakamua. Care for the land, care for the people, go forward.

23 Mar 2023

Danielle Smith, with daughter Sia, when she graduated with a Master of Applied Psychology (Organisational).

This Māori whakataukī underpins research being planned by University of Waikato Doctoral Scholarship recipient Danielle Smith as she looks to explore Aotearoa’s social housing crisis using mātauranga Māori as a foundation and the Hamilton situation as a case study.

Danielle graduated with a Bachelor of Psychology from the University and says she was guided by the wairua (spirit) of her Nana Jean to pursue further study, initially completing a Master of Applied Psychology (Organisational), seven years ago.

“I remember standing in the academic hire office and seeing the different robes. At the top there was a PhD and it was red. That was my Nana’s favourite colour and I thought, wouldn’t that be cool,” says Danielle.

After completing her Masters, following the birth of her daughter Sia, now 7, Danielle went on to work for Te Rūnanga o Kirikiriroa, working in Māori whenua (land) development. It was while there she became interested in housing and the wrap around support services being offered for kaumātua.

“I knew I wanted to do research to look at things from a perspective that might not have been explored before. I want to help not only help create more houses for kaumātua but, to create places that are their tūrangawaewae, and set in place the systems to create intergenerational change,” says Danielle.

Her research is supported by new doctoral scholarships for Māori and Pacific students launched by the University in 2022. The scholarships provide support for up to 30 Māori and Pacific doctoral students for the duration of their studies. Danielle received a scholarship supporting research underpinned by mātauranga Māori.

The number of Māori over 65s is expected to increase significantly in the next decade and many Māori kaumātua do not own their own homes.

Statistics New Zealand shows that overall, 66 percent of New Zealanders aged over 65 own their home outright, but only 47 percent of Māori kaumātua and 27 percent of Pacific matua own their homes.

“There is a looming housing crisis for our kaumātua, and we need new ways of looking at the issues holistically and for new perspectives to create enduring solutions,” says Danielle.

“There’s so much more required than just providing a roof over people’s heads. Looking at our housing crisis from a mātauranga Māori perspective means looking at the connections we have to our whenua and to Papatūānuku,” says Danielle.

“Papatūānuku speaks through her children and it’s important to hear from our kaumātua not only what would be best for them but through what they are communicating will be best for our generations to come.”

While she is still developing her research proposal, Danielle hopes her work will also feed into Te Puawaitanga o Ngā Waka, research exploring the ways in which kaumātua and whānau can flourish and thrive.

Her research will also be explored through key Māori values including manaakitanga, the powerful way how Māori communities care about each other's well being, nurture relationships, and engage with each other. Whanaungatanga, close kin relationships, connections and the ties between whanau and communities. Whakawhanaungatanga, establishing relationships and the processes involved in the maintenance of quality relationships. Arohatanga, the care, love, respect, and empathy shown to others and Kaitiakitanga, the processes and practices of caring for and looking after our environment.

“All of these values transcend the individual but are key in delivering a holistic system which truly sees and values every individual,” says Danielle.

She says the research she is planning would not have been possible without the University’s Scholarship.

“I feel so privileged to have this opportunity and to be studying at the University and most of all I want to use this to give back to my community and create better outcomes for our kaumātua and their whanau.”

This research aligns with the following United Nations Sustainable Development Goals:

No Poverty Good Health and Well-being Reduced Inequalities

Related news