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Towards a secure identity: Maori women and the home-place.

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Women's Studies International Forum, 25(5), 503-513

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This paper explores the lived experiences of six Māori women educators in Aotearoa New Zealand, with a particular focus on the profound influence of the ancestral home-place on their Māori cultural identity.

The research illuminates how a sense of home-place not only constructs but also reinforces and maintains their cultural identity. The study reveals that at a metaphysical level, the concept of home-place transcends physical distance, collapsing it into spaces of adult recollections and the temporal dimension of memories recounted in the present. At a physical level, the connection to the home-place is strengthened through tangible links to the land, in-depth knowledge of whakapapa, proximity to whānau, the centrality of the marae, and experiences with te reo Māori. These elements are key markers of personal identity and were found to be significantly influential in establishing a secure identity as Māori for each woman in the study. This sense of a secure identity, rooted in the collective identity of the tribe, not only contributes to the personal well-being of each woman and their families but also empowers them to navigate and contribute effectively and confidently in the wider society. This research offers important insights into the dynamics of cultural identity among Māori women educators, highlighting the intricate relationship between individual identity and tribal heritage. It underscores the critical role of cultural and ancestral connections in fostering a sense of belonging and confidence, which is essential for effective participation in the broader societal context.

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