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Understanding the Happiness of Māori and the Role of Consumption: Experiences of the Millennial Generation

Happiness is commonly perceived as the ideal state of being for all of human kind. Although a universal definition of the term remains elusive, happiness is a goal that everybody wants to achieve. In understanding the different aspects that shape happiness, the literature has shown that this can vary depending on the cultural context. As such, this study investigates the essence of happiness as it is experienced by Māori. In understanding the experiences of the Millennial generation, the role that consumption plays is also explored. This group of young adults have been raised in an era when consumerism and cultural revitalisation are the norm. This investigation was guided by hermeneutic phenomenology using a kaupapa Māori research perspective. Through this, thirteen young Māori individuals were interviewed to gain their experiences of happiness. Photo elicitation techniques were utilised as a means to facilitate these interviews. Stories of the participants’ experiences of happiness were crafted and then analysed to explore the role of consumption. Findings show that the happiness of Māori is shaped by the five themes of; sense of belonging, whānau and relationships, spirituality, achievement and success, and sense of freedom. These themes interrelate as they are underpinned by the collective values of Māori. In particular, the aspects of spirituality and sense of belonging appear to be specific to the Māori realm. These are based on customs, values and beliefs that are inherited from our ancestors yet are still prevalent today. In terms of consumption, happiness can be positively linked to experiential consumption. In this case, it can play three different roles on the happiness of Māori through either; a direct connection, an indirect connection, or a negative connection. For Māori, consumption is more likely to have an indirect connection. This implies that it is able to facilitate, maintain and enhance happiness, but is not essential to creating these feelings. This investigation contributes to the literature in four ways. First, this study serves as a starting point to developing a comprehensive framework of happiness that is specific to the culture, views and values of Māori. This will assist Māori through ensuring that they are accurately represented in policies, frameworks and statistics. Second, it proposes five guidelines for Māori which suggest how they can maximise happiness through consumption. Third, this study provides a more up-to-date understanding of the happiness of Māori at the individual level whilst incorporating the impact of collective values. Marketers, researchers and practitioners can utilise this information in an attempt to aid in improving the happiness of Māori society. Finally, it shows that consumption can continue to be positively related to happiness once basic needs have been met. The positive role that consumption can play on happiness is identified, showing that marketers and consumers can work together to achieve happiness.
Type of thesis
de Thierry, E. (2012). Understanding the Happiness of Māori and the Role of Consumption: Experiences of the Millennial Generation (Thesis, Master of Management Studies (MMS)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/6473
University of Waikato
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