Me mau kia ita ki te tuakiri o te whanau / Whanau identity and whanau development are Interdependent
Penetito, Kim Himoana
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Whanau is often qualified as synonymous to the description family, or extended family. The purpose of this study is to show that whanau is not only a social grouping belonging to Maori society, but an aspect of cultural identity central to the future development of Maori. Whanau is a concept belonging to Te Ao Maori, and the development of this concept has been challenged through the history of Aotearoa by external cultural influences and internal responses to these influences. These influences include Western paradigms and societal norms introduced through colonisation and leading to the modern perception that whanau is a mirror image of the concept of family.Modernisation, as an example of a Western developmental theory is applied in this study to demonstrate the impact of an ethnocentric notion on the concept and experience of whanau - culturally, socially, economically and spiritually. It is observed by the writer that whanau remains central to strategies for development as a people notwithstanding this experience. This observation required that the study explore the key elements retained by whanau, for the concept of whanau to have achieved sustainability. Although the effects of external influences have impacted on the structural, functional and relational aspects of whānau, it is evident in the findings from this study conducted with descendents of Ngati Te Oro that the practice of whanau as a cultural grouping was significant to retaining a cultural identity. This finding has strengthened the position that there are specific contributing aspects towards a secure whanau identity that provides the foundations as well as the vehicle to progress the development of Maori.