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Ka hao te rangatahi: Rangatahi Māori experiences of climate change

Ka pū te rūhā, ka hao te rangatahi - Climate change is well established as one of the earth’s most pressing global issues, whereby Māori and Indigenous communities are more vulnerable to its impacts. Internationally, youth have been participating in a range of climate activism, demanding rapid and adequate responses to climate change from decision makers; with Indigenous youth advocating for Indigenous rights to be centred in these responses. More often than not, research on youth involvement in climate change focusses on the general youth population and sidelines the experiences of minorities such as global Indigenous communities. Due to this inattention, there is a lack of research focussing on rangatahi Māori experiences and perceptions of climate change, leaving rangatahi Māori to advocate for their voices to be heard. The purpose of this research is to amplify the voices of rangatahi Māori regarding climate change, beyond where rangatahi are already sharing their voices. It focusses on rangatahi perceptions of climate change, specifically exploring how being Māori, and youth, influence their experience. This includes investigating the role rangatahi have within climate change, and any challenges and supportive factors that rangatahi may experience related to climate change. This thesis utilises Kaupapa Māori and its guiding principles to ground this research agenda, employing Pūrākau methodology to guide research methods. Specifically, semi-structured whakawhitinga kōrero were undertaken with five rangatahi Māori participants, who are passionate about climate change and the taiao, exploring each of their diverse experiences and understandings of climate change. Following a process involving thematic and Pūrākau methodology inspired analysis, key themes from each of the rangatahi whakawhitinga kōrero are presented within a case study, maintaining individual narratives for each rangatahi. This research found that rangatahi experience is grounded in whakapapa, shaping connection to the taiao, motivations to care about climate change, and encompassed aspirations and hopes regarding climate change responses. These narratives highlight that the exclusion of rangatahi from research spaces leaves a gap in literature that explores youth understandings on climate change. Further findings established that the participants believe that being a rangatahi presents unique skills and perspective to offer to climate spaces. Lastly, through exploring participants experiences of specifically being a rangatahi Māori, the findings of this thesis offer tangible opportunities to support rangatahi in voicing their concerns regarding climate change, as this was an identified challenge. Ultimately, exploring the rangatahi participants’ understandings contributes to: shaping the narratives of rangatahi Māori experience of climate change; further diversifying Māori understandings of climate change and responses; and amplifying the voices of Māori youth within the growing set of literature on youth engagement in climate change. This research lays a foundation for the voices of rangatahi Māori to be actively included in climate change research, and further contest Western misconceptions that rangatahi must gain more experience to contribute to changing the world.
Type of thesis
The University of Waikato
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