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Mahi Aroha: Māori Work in Times of Trouble and Disaster as an Expression of a Love for the People

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In 2010 and 2011 the Canterbury earthquakes prompted expressions of mahi aroha – work done by Māori (Indigenous peoples of Aotearoa New Zealand) out of a love for the people – in the emergency context of a natural disaster.

Similarly, the Covid-19 level 4 lockdown that began in the last week of March 2020 showcased Māori caring for one another in the context of a pandemic. Whether people were paid or unpaid, out in their communities as essential workers or broadcasting via the internet from their living rooms and kitchens, Māori around the country engaged in mahi aroha. While celebrating the capacity of Māori to move swiftly and effectively to care for others, the past two decades have seen an overall decline in the time Māori have been able to devote to mahi aroha, particularly voluntary work. It is proposed here the decline in Māori home ownership and access to secure, affordable housing is a key challenge to Māori capacity for mahi aroha. It is therefore timely to consider Māori responsiveness during times of crisis and how access to housing might help ensure that this capacity continues into the future.

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