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Māori Cultural Efficacy and Subjective Wellbeing: A Psychological Model and Research Agenda

Abstract

Māori, the indigenous peoples of New Zealand, experience a range of negative outcomes. Psychological models and interventions aiming to improve outcomes for Māori tend to be founded on a ‘culture-as-cure’ model. This view promotes cultural efficacy as a critical resilience factor that should improve outcomes for Māori. This is a founding premise of initiatives for Indigenous peoples in many nations. However, research modeling the outcomes of increased cultural efficacy for Indigenous peoples, such as Māori, remains limited. We present cross-sectional data modeling the links, and possible causal direction, between Māori cultural efficacy and active identity engagement and levels of (1) satisfaction with personal circumstances and life versus (2) satisfaction with government and the state of the nation more generally (N = 93 Māori). Our data support an opposing outcomes model in which Māori cultural efficacy predicts satisfaction with personal aspects of life, but may simultaneously decrease satisfaction with the nation and methods of governance for Māori peoples. Possible mechanisms governing these opposing effects are discussed.

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Acknowledgments

This research was funded by Performance Based Research Funds awarded to Chris Sibley by the University of Auckland.

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Correspondence to Carla A. Houkamau.

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Both authors contributed equally to this research.

Appendix

Appendix

The Multidimensional Model of Māori Identity and Cultural Engagement (From Houkamau and Sibley 2010)

Do you identify as Māori and/or have ancestors who are Māori?
□ Yes
□ No

This survey contains a list of statements about what you think being. Māori means to you personally and how you might feel about being Māori. It is only relevant to people who answered ‘yes’ to the above question.

All of these statements are opinions. The scale has been designed so that you will probably find that you agree with some statements but disagree with others to varying degrees. This is because we want to measure a wide range of different opinions about what people think it means to be Māori. There are no right or wrong answers. Please try to answer all the questions as honestly as you can. The best answer is your own opinion, whatever that is.

If you strongly agree with a statement then you would select a number close to 7. If you feel neutral about a statement then you would select a number close to 4. If you strongly disagree with a statement then you would select a number close to 1.

  Strongly disagree Neutral Strongly agree
    
1. I love the fact I am Māori. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
2. My Māori ancestry is important to me. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
3. I feel a strong spiritual association with the land. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
4. Being Māori is NOT important to my sense of what kind of person I am. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
5. My Māori identity belongs to me personally. It has nothing to do with my relationships with other Māori. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
6. All of us, both Māori and Pākehā, did bad things in the past—we should all just forget about it. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
7. I reckon being Māori is awesome. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8. My relationships with other Māori people (friends and family) are what make me Māori. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
9. I don’t believe in that Māori spiritual stuff. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
10. I have a clear sense of my Māori heritage and what it means for me. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
11. It’s important for Māori to stand together and be strong if we want to claim back the lands that were taken from us. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
12. I know how to act the right way when I am on a marae. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
13. Being Māori is NOT important to who I am as a person. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
14. How I see myself is totally tied up with my relationships with my Māori friends and family. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
15. Māori would be heaps better off if they just forgot about the past and moved on. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
16. You can always tell true Māori from other Māori. They’re real different. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
17. I’m sick of hearing about the Treaty of Waitangi and how Māori had their land stolen. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
18. My Māori identity is fundamentally about my relationships with other Māori. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
19. I don’t really care about following Māori culture. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
20. I believe that Tupuna (ancient ancestors) can communicate with you if they want to. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
21. I don’t know how to act like a real Māori on a marae. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
22. For me, a big part of being Māori is my relationships with other Māori people. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
23. I can’t do Māori cultural stuff properly. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
24. You can be a real Māori even if you don’t know your Iwi. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
25. I stand up for Māori rights. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
26. I can sometimes feel my Māori ancestors watching over me. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
27. Real Māori put their whanau first. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
28. I try to korero (speak) Māori whenever I can. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
29. Being Māori is cool. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
30. I consider myself Māori because I am interconnected with other Māori people, including friends and family. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
31. You can be a true Māori without ever speaking Māori. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
32. I sometimes feel that I don’t fit in with other Māori. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
33. I wish I could hide the fact that I am Māori from other people. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
34. I think Tapu is just a made up thing. It can’t actually affect you. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
35. To be truly Māori you need to understand your whakapapa and the history of your people. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
36. I have never felt a spiritual connection with my ancestors. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
37. I think that Māori have been wronged in the past, and that we should stand up for what is ours. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
38. I can’t do Māori culture or speak Māori. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
39. I reckon that true Māori hang out at their marae all the time. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
40. I believe that my Taha Wairua (my spiritual side) is an important part of my Māori identity. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
41. Reciprocity (give-and-take) is at the heart of what it means to be Māori for me. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
42. I’m comfortable doing Māori cultural stuff when I need to. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
43. True Māori always do karakia (prayer) before important events. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
44. What the European settlers did to Māori in the past has nothing to do with me personally. I wasn’t there and I don’t think it affects me at all. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
45. I can sense it when I am in a Tapu place. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
46. I think we should all just be New Zealanders and forget about differences between Māori and Pākehā. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
47. You can tell a true Māori just by looking at them. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
  1. Scoring instructions. First, reverse score the following items: 4, 5, 6, 9, 13, 15, 17, 19, 21, 23, 24, 31, 32, 33, 34, 36, 38, 44, and 46. Next, average the following sets of items to calculate scores for each subscale. Group Membership Evaluation: 1, 2, 4, 7, 13, 19, 29, 33. Socio-Political Consciousness: 6, 11, 15, 17, 25, 37, 44, 46. Cultural Efficacy and Active Identity Engagement: 10, 12, 21, 23, 28, 32, 38, 42. Spirituality: 3, 9, 20, 26, 34, 36, 40, 45. Interdependent self-concept: 5, 8, 14, 18, 22, 30, 41. Authenticity Beliefs: 16, 24, 27, 31, 35, 39, 43, 47. Syntax for calculating scales scores using SPSS is available from the second author upon request

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Houkamau, C.A., Sibley, C.G. Māori Cultural Efficacy and Subjective Wellbeing: A Psychological Model and Research Agenda. Soc Indic Res 103, 379–398 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11205-010-9705-5

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Keywords

  • Māori
  • Cultural efficacy
  • Culture as cure
  • New Zealand
  • Subjective well-being