|This thesis examines the role of place in experiences of ageing for older Māori, and the extent to which places of choice facilitate a sense of positive ageing. Particular attention is given to multiple experiences of home and the complexities surrounding Māori affiliations to place. Participants were older whānau members over the age of 55 who whakapapa to, and have lived, or currently live in Manaia in the Coromandel. Two participants still reside in Manaia to this day, and two have moved into urban areas in Paeroa and Taupo. Two semi-structured interviews were conducted with participants in their own homes. The first interview focused on housing experiences, personal background and support. The second interview incorporated Māori relationship principles relating to the importance of turangawaewae, whānaungatanga, wairua and manaakitanga. My analysis was informed by a narrative approach, and the relevance of Māori principles to participants’ positive ageing experiences.
I found that Māori relationships with places of ancestral connection are complex and do not exclude other places becoming equally, if not as important to individuals. Experiences of home for participants were multiple and extended to places with which they had forged memories, relationships and positive attachments. Findings indicate that the ability to age positively within particular places is largely reliant on the supports available for older Māori. Wairua was acknowledged by participants as being significant in aiding their positive ageing experiences. Strong connections to non-living objects such as places, nature and tupuna were expressed as being a crucial part of their philosophies on life and death. This feeling of knowing ancestors were part of everyday life alleviated feelings of loneliness and reiterated the never-ending connections between whānau. Everyday contact with whānau provided practical social support as well as a chance for reciprocal relationships to be fostered. When whānau support was not readily available due to geographical distances, technological means of relationship building were used to enable ageing at a distance, allowing home to be played out across physical localities. Health issues were expressed by participants, both historical and reoccurring, and appropriate health care services were regarded as playing an active role in participants’ ageing experiences. Three out of four participants accessed a Māori health provider. By accessing a health care service that was financially inexpensive, where the doctors built a rapport with patients and took advice, participants felt culturally safe and reported positive relationships with their provider. Finances were reported as being a support that needed to be strengthened and a lack of income had a negative effect on participants ageing experiences. Participants’ everyday lives were impacted by financial instability, with a lack of finances standing in the way of fully interacting with the community, negotiating place and being able to age in places of choice.
This thesis argues that ageing in place facilitates positive ageing by allowing older Māori to remain in their places of choice with firm attachments where they can maintain control over their affairs and maintain a sense of continuity. Māori ageing needs to be viewed within a history of colonisation, urbanisation, experiences, relationships and spiritual connectedness to human and non-human entities. It is within this context that ageing in place can be truly explored. Recommendations are made to aid positive ageing in place for older Māori. These include further research into supports, a review of the age of eligibility for state pensions, subsidised transport initiatives, and making Māori health services more accessible.