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Precariat Māori households today.

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Te Arotahi, 2,

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This paper presents an exploration into the lived realities of precariat Māori in Aotearoa.

Drawing on the concept of ‘the precariat,’ originally coined by Standing (2011), the authors explore the precarious and marginalised status of these families. Utilising a comprehensive research methodology that includes qualitative interviews and case studies, the authors reveal the complex landscape of socio-economic marginalisation coupled with a resilient navigation through life’s challenges by these families. The findings challenge conventional narratives, showcasing the agency, strategic negotiation, and survival tactics employed by precariat whānau against a backdrop of systemic failures and societal stigmatization. Central to the paper’s discourse is the examination of five key issues: precarity as a full time job, particularly engaging all the various services and providers; a critique of the prevailing ‘penal welfare’ system and its inadequacies in addressing the needs of the most vulnerable populations; impersonality and lack of understanding from service providers; negotiation, navigation, and survival of the welfare system and the drain this creates, and the importance of having culturally informed services. The authors argue for a fundamental reorientation of policy and decision-making processes towards a more humane understanding of precariat families, emphasising the detrimental impact of current policies on Māori communities. The paper also critiques the neoliberal economic framework that exacerbates inequality and undermines the social safety net. Key recommendations proposed include: adoption of a Whānau Ora approach, stressing the importance of policy reforms grounded in Māori values and perspectives to ensure meaningful and sustainable support for precariat whānau; structural changes to the economy and social welfare policies to address the root causes of inequality and precarity, including living wages, secure employment, and accessible social services; enhancing the visibility and voice of Māori families in the policy-making process, advocating for participatory approaches that respect and incorporate the lived experiences and aspirations of precariat whānau.

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