Inter-iwi sport can strengthen cultural identity for urban Māori
Mato, Wiremu Tekehukehu
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Inter-hapū (inter-subtribe) Māori (indigenous peoples of New Zealand) sports events, usually held within rural regions, attracts affiliates from all around Aotearoa/New Zealand for a chance to represent their hapū. Anecdotal feedback suggests that these types of events can strengthen cultural or iwi (tribal) identity. If correct, similar events and activities within urban contexts may strengthen the cultural identity of urban-Māori who are potentially dislocated from traditional Māori contexts. This qualitative study explores the hypothesis that "Inter-iwi sport can strengthen cultural identity for urban Māori" using methodological approaches of both Kaupapa Māori Research (KMR) and Grounded Theory. In-depth interviews with eight participants of an inter-iwi urban sports event called the 'Iwi of Origin' were undertaken to define what 'being Māori' meant to them, and if they thought the Iwi of Origin strengthened their Māori identity. Issues around the future delivery of inter-iwi sports events in Auckland were also discussed.According to the participants, the Iwi of Origin strengthened their Māori identity, however important variations in the defintions of 'Māori identity' were found. Further findings suggest that Māori sports events and programmes in Auckland are an important part of strengthening cultural identity for Māori living in urban areas. An annual inter-iwi sports competition may promote whakawhanaungatanga amongst urban Māori in Auckland and can also be used as a method to support iwi development. The research recommendations will discuss the need for effective leadership, the requirement for further research to be carried out on traditional Māori pastimes and the belief that the use of traditional indicators of cultural identity be used with caution given the potential to marginalise and further distance those who have already been dislocated from traditional components of their culture.