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Housing and Health for Whanau Maori

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Doctoral dissertation, University of Otago, ,

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This PhD thesis explores the critical connection between Māori housing and whānau wellness, addressing the significant knowledge gap regarding the lived experiences of Māori in their homes and the implications for health.

With a focus on understanding the persistent disparities in housing conditions between Māori and non-Māori, the project investigates how housing influences whānau ora (family health and wellbeing) for Māori communities. Employing a mixed-methods approach that integrates historical data, oral histories, and contemporary accounts, the study centres on a geographical case study of the Karamu reserve from 1850 to 1950. Through interpretive phenomenological analysis of in-depth interviews with sixteen Māori participants, complemented by the guidance of kaumātua (elders), the research reveals that government policies have historically been destructive or inadequate in meeting Māori housing needs. The findings highlight that health for Māori is a dynamic and indivisible state, significantly influenced by mauri (life force) manifested in the built environment, spatial layout, movable items within the home, and the connection to the natural world. This project contributes to a deeper understanding of what constitutes a health-promoting home for whānau Māori and offers insights into developing more effective solutions for Māori housing challenges.

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