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Iwi cultural identity: The praxis of tūpuna narrative

This research is a narrative-based study of tūpuna narrative practices. As a privileged medium tūpuna narratives construct the conditions of iwi praxis which leads to mana-motuhake: the political independence and self-determination of Māori. This study explores how the Ngāti Koi applied ‘tūpuna narratives’ to challenge the hegemonic identity imposed on them that effectively alienated and silenced them erasing their memories of who they were and are. It is an auto-ethnography of an iwi, a whānau, a family it is a story about the writer. While this may seem a personal objective, the result indicates a cultural problematic in that the search for identity involves a critical kaupapa Māori investigation for an iwi to make sense of the act of colonisation, the colonial institutions that named them and the revitalization of their iwi identity in a Treaty of Waitangi context. This study has found that ‘tūpuna narratives’ represent identity conceptions that have implications for traditional normative practices. In narrative study there are no prescribed means for unearthing and creating meanings, research methods take the form of co-construction, the emphasis is on doing what is necessary to capture the lived experiences of iwi in terms of their particular-and-unique circumstances. Over time dominant theories have tended to align narrative practices with journalism, storytelling, myth and legend, tale and fable diminishing its conceptual role as the ‘epistemological other’ of the social sciences. The findings of this research illustrate the significant limitations of these theories. Narrative research is considered both a research method ‘in itself’ and also the phenomenon under study. In this study, narrative is applied as a conceptual metaphor to create interpreted descriptions, to understand and link causal historical and personal events to colonial institutional decision-making. Placed within the conceptual constellation of Kaupapa Māori narrative methodology becomes a powerful tool for change: creating the conditions of iwi praxis which is the making, the transformation and revitalisation of iwi cultural identity. As I write Hauraki enters a Treaty of Waitangi ‘settled world’ the settlement formulae premised on the falsified stories begat by nineteenth-century institutional decision-makers. These stories have created a legacy of unease as open inter iwi hostilities are unleashed. Treaty settlements should result in rangimarie-peace, justice and praxis for iwi both internal to, and external of its polity and cultural borders. Clearly, they do not and the need for tūpuna narratives, free of colonial-institutional storying, remains.
Type of thesis
Williams, A. A. T. (2020). Iwi cultural identity: The praxis of tūpuna narrative (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/13956
The University of Waikato
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