putiputi, he taonga, he rangatira - The factors motivating young Maori women to
Gail Bosmann-Watene (BSW, PG CertHealSc, MANZASW)
School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work, Massey University.
This paper examines the
concept of motivation and its link to positive youth development for Maori
women. It aims to explore the
unique characteristics that contribute to the achievements of Maori women and
forms the basis of my current Masters research (in progress) which considers the
motivating factors of young Maori women who are leaders amongst their peers, and
who have achieved recognition in a chosen field/s.
The paper also discusses the purpose of completing a research journey
alongside young Maori women based on this topic. In particular, I provide a
reflection of the journey that has paved the way for me to engage in this topic,
and the impact it has on my professional practice and the whanau I work
alongside. I explore what this
research entails and why it justifies exploration. Finally, as the study is
still in progress the paper investigates current research and ideas that relate
to factors motivating young Maori women to succeed.
The journey – Te Haerenga
I am the youngest daughter of
Marata Tatu and Jan Frederik Bosmann. A
Tuhoe mokopuna, Wairoa born and raised, river loving kid who has fond memories
of Mum’s hot rewana and regular fishing trips with Dad in the 1968 Ford Falcon
Station wagon to Lake Waikaremoana. We
had a humble upbringing that was full of hardship, laughter, aroha,
selflessness, manaakitanga, music, tears, mischief and whanau. I grew up the youngest of six girls which meant I learnt
early in life what the true meaning of ‘hand me down’ was. When I was four years old my parents decided to foil my plans
in claiming potiki status and the accolades that come with being the youngest,
with the birth of another Bosmann baby, worse still it was a boy.
So there we were, the ‘Bosmann bunch’ a fun loving whanau who grew up
in the same home my parents reside in today.
Although my parents have
survived forty three years of marriage they are quite dissimilar.
Their Maori and Dutch heritage brought richness into our household in
many different ways and I believe I grew up with the best of both worlds.
Some of their similarities exist in the mutual displacement they endured
as youth. As a young boy, Dad
experienced the loss of his father during wartimes and in some ways found refuge
in a country that seemed more secure and where opportunities in work were easily
accessible. At home he was Dad but
in the community he took on several roles including coach, musician, bird lover,
mechanic, specialist fly fisherman, and church clerk.
Because of Dad’s interests we often found ourselves being dragged to
different competitions, meetings and gatherings where we learnt to work as a
team, perform in front of an audience, and have patience (making flies for
fishing takes a lot of patience!) Most
importantly we learnt how to cope with boredom by being creative and managing
time effectively in order to get the task done.
As a toddler Mum and her
siblings were raised by their nanny Waereti following the death of her mother
Rangipaea Kenana. When Waereti died all the kids became whangai and were split
up between whanau from Ruatahuna, Waimana, and Wairoa.
Over the years the contact with her siblings reduced and the children
became strangers to one another. This
was a struggle for my Mum, and in her own way she coped with this mamae.
She would involve herself in many different community activities, and
often we were unsure of her whereabouts but knew she was giving her time to
others. Her talents in horticulture
were a blessing for a large whanau, and we lived quite self sufficiently for
many years. She was always bringing
strangers home who would then become our new auntie, uncle, whaea, or cousin.
I recall Mum introducing a hitchhiking couple from Europe as auntie and
uncle and as a seven year old I could not figure out how we were related.
Yet Mum was a firm believer that once you made a connection you became
whanau and that was all that mattered. For
this reason we had a lot of whanau. Whakapapa
whanau, church whanau, school whanau, community whanau – it seemed everyone
was whanau as long as there was a connection, and for Mum that could have been a
korero over milo and bread.
Through my parents stories I
find meaning to the factors motivating them in keeping whanau traditions,
values, standards, and principles alive within our home.
The importance they placed on collectiveness as a key link to whanau
wellbeing was something that each family
member had to commit to. This was
reflected in several everyday activities including family karakia when we arose
in the morning and before we went to sleep; family reading time; Sunday kai;
Monday night’s were dedicated to family home evenings where each person had a
task to complete, which ranged from a musical item to preparing supper; daily
chores; maintaining the family vegetable garden and home environment.
While we were a family who still endured arguments, contention and
hardship, the role modeling and lessons taught about understanding whanau
welfare by two parents in a small Wairoa home is not forgotten.
My home life has also influenced
my development of a cultural identity which is firmly located in my
understanding of whanau. Due to
Mum’s personal experiences within a colonised education system, te reo Maori
was not the first language spoken at home. Also, as a whangai, Mum became
isolated from hapu and iwi involvement which meant she found other avenues for
us kids to learn our Maori culture. This
was through kapahaka which served to strengthen my cultural identity.
So, while we learnt Maoritanga the loss was not gaining a sense of
While attending University as an
undergraduate student I challenged myself to seek out this ‘Tuhoetanga’ that
was unfamiliar to me. I searched
through our whanau whakapapa, I read books by Tuhoe authors, and I tried to
surround myself with Tuhoe peers, and made contact with relatives who were
involved in hapu activities. Along
the way I also found my profession in social work and specifically in Hauora
Hinengaro Maori, where the kaupapa fused well with my personal lens or
worldview. Over time I became
involved in several youth groups and often volunteered my time to support
various youth kaupapa. In these
environments I have been given the opportunity to work alongside young Maori
women who are talented, confident, motivated, and show self belief.
However, I have also worked alongside young Maori women who have no
supports, limited confidence and are unsure of their abilities and potential.
These circumstances have often been directly linked to the negative
effects of whanau breakdown and the alternative faces of identity (to a Maori
cultural identity) that several young Maori women learn and develop via popular
culture. Many of these young women
seek out a nurturing, supportive environment to assist with the process of self
belief and healing. As a beginning
practitioner to the field of social work these experiences have left an imprint
in my mind concerning the wellbeing of our young Maori women, and the
potentially negative impact this has on whanau and future generations.
Throughout this journey my
family, peers, mentors, colleagues, and the whanau I work alongside have become
one whanau who constantly challenge me in different ways to achieve my full
potential. They have become tools
in channeling my personal and professional development. Often they have tapped into my abilities and talents that
were undetected and quiescent. Many of these whanau are my personal role models
who inform my thinking and behaviour. Along the way they have encouraged me to
take on opportunities to lead and be led, in sports, employment, academia, and
other extra curricular activities. My accomplishments are a credit to their
support and challenges.
The stories I have shared are a
small part of a journey that have solely influenced my reality. This reality has
led me to cultivate some of the following activities and experiences - my
passion for youth development, and in particular, supporting young women
endeavours; my enthusiasm to work in a helping profession; and my commitment to
promoting positive development within whanau as a vital key to individual
wellbeing. All of these continued
experiences have opened the pathway for me to explore this research topic.
Research Background – He
There are two main reasons for
justifying the timing of such a research topic. The first answer is provided within Maori history where we
are gifted with descriptions that assist in revealing the significant and
enduring role Maori women have as nurturers of future generations.
Some of these descriptions can be found in the following whakatauki:
aha te mea nui o te ao. He
tangata, he tangata, he tangata
is the most important thing in the world. Tis
people, tis people, tis people.
He puta taua ki te tane, he whanau tamariki ki te wahine
The battlefield for man, childbirth for woman.
For me these words reinforce the
critical part young Maori women have within whanau and for tangata whenua.
Therefore, from a te ao Maori perspective the rationale for such a
research topic makes the timing of this endeavour irrelevant.
Also, in April 2003 the
Adolescent Health Research Group presented findings of a national secondary
school youth health survey. This
research found that currently, information on the health and wellbeing of Maori
and Pacific youth is sparse and that there is a comparative lack of research on
the protective and resiliency factors in the lives of youth that promote health
and wellbeing. Dr Peter Watson
summarised the state of youth health through the following:
health of our youth determines the health of our society.
Much of New Zealand’s current preventable morbidity and mortality in
adulthood can be attributed to behaviours that are initiated during
adolescence…New Zealand youth have been overlooked in terms of national
policy, age-specific health services, and nationally representative databases.
This is despite New Zealand’s current generation of youth having rates
of unintended pregnancy, suicide and self-harm that are among the highest in the
Western World.” (Adolescent
Health Research Group, 2003:1).
Considering this statement and
the lack of current research relevant to Maori youth health and wellbeing, it
appears timely to investigate factors motivating young Maori women to succeed as
this research topic will explore and uncover themes that may be useful in
assisting young Maori women and other youth groups in their positive development
For this purpose, the research
investigates the motivating factors that assist young Maori women to succeed;
the diverse roles that young Maori women maintain within whanau, hapu and iwi;
how these roles influence the positive development of young Maori women; the
opinion young Maori women have of leadership and role modeling; and generally
asks young Maori women to discuss the challenges they face and what it takes to
overcome these challenges, and still be able to achieve goals.
The title of this paper and
ongoing research is ‘He putitputi, he taonga, he rangatira - The
factors motivating young Maori women to achieve success.’ Putiputi
refers to flower and symbolises for me the role
that women have when we enter into this world at birth as daughters, sisters,
mokopuna, nieces, cousins - young flowers needing protection, nurturing, and
sustenance from whanau, yet, also contributing to whanau in many ways through
energy, passion, love, vitality, and life, a reciprocal relationship that begins
from the time of conception.
Taonga, a word that contributes
to several meanings such as the notions of treasure, gifts or preciousness. For
me it can reflect the space and time of our journey through adolescence into
womanhood when our whare tangata is preparing for our most sacred role and
therefore is our most precious gift. Tariana
Turia encapsulates this understanding of taonga through the following:
pay tribute to all of you on your journey, as we realise and discover our true
potential which is valuing the essence of our being.
What is unique to us as
indigenous women is grounded in the sacredness of te whare tangata, the
concept of the nurturing place of future generations.” 
This leads to the notion of
rangatira. Royal (2001) describes rangatira as the weaving together of a group
where leadership is reflected in the ability to provide a sense of unity and
group cohesion. Irwin (1995:10)
provides a more precise insight through her descriptions of interactions between
Maori women, in particular a group of Maori women whose celebrations of mana
wahine were collaborated and then published.
She may not have purposefully described rangatira yet the following words
indirectly detail for me the diverse roles a rangatira may engage in:
strategise, organise, network, dream: across tribal boundaries, among
professional groups and community members.
Our destiny is there to be reclaimed once more. Weaving,
weaving, weaving. People with
people, people with ideas, places with people.
We move on. At hui, on the
street, in town, at the petrol station, at the pub, in the library, at the fish
and chip shop. Unity, diversity,
kotahitanga: sometimes only fleeting glimpses are possible, at others long
intense debates are enjoyed…wherever our paths happen to cross.
Synergy, energising, powerful, intoxicating, full of possibilities.”
These descriptions are
undoubtedly portrayed within the whanau as young Maori women realise their
potential in becoming mothers, aunties, nannies, nurturers, mentors, life
teachers – leaders of whanau and
decision makers within hapu and iwi, powerful
roles that influence future generations.
In the interest of providing
clarity of terms used within the research process I have defined specific key
words. Within this context, if motive
is defined as “tending to initiate movement or what induces a person to
act.” (Sykes, 1976: 711). Then, motivation
refers to the stimulus or trigger of an action or the incentive to achieve or
complete something. Other
expressions such as inspire, stimulate, prompt, encourage and provoke also need
to be considered here as each can be linked to defining motivation.
The term Maori women refer
specifically to women who are of Maori descent.
The term young has purposefully
been used in this context to maintain some flexibility with the description and
also to reduce becoming too prescriptive. Depending on the worldview, the term
young or noun ‘youth’ can take on different meanings.
It may be informed by a perception and is sometimes dependent upon the
context of a situation as well as a reference to age.
The Ministry of Youth Development (2003) defines youth or a young person
in New Zealand as someone who is aged between twelve to twenty four years. For research purposes and ethical reasoning
this study involves Maori women who are aged between sixteen to twenty four
Finally, complexities can
sometimes arise when defining the notion of success as individuals will have
different expectations and perceptions of what this means.
Therefore, the verb succeed will be utilised in the research process and discussion, to
describe and interpret the accomplishment of a purpose or goal which has led to
a successful outcome. This will be
measured by the perceived positive effect the outcome of the individuals
achievements has towards Maori development, specifically whanau development.
Therefore, other expressions such as leadership and achievement have also
been considered here. Accordingly,
the research will be informed by Maori centred
and qualitative research methodologies (Patton, 1990; Davidson and Tolich,
The purpose of this literature review is to identify research that
closely resembles this proposed study. This
will highlight the scope and boundary of the research as it relates to a larger
ongoing dialogue regarding the links between motivation, young Maori women and
success. A balanced view of
literature relating to the topic area has been taken into account as there is
limited research currently available that concerns young Maori women.
A general overview has been prepared to describe essential aspects of the
overall literature before presenting specific findings using the following key
themes of motivation, Maori women and Maori youth development.
All of these themes connect either directly or indirectly to the proposed
topic and need to be presented separately to show the deficit in knowledge
relating to this research.
There are limited studies available that relate to this research.
Most of the literature relevant to this topic originates from within New
Zealand and is mainly work completed as a result of academic research, for
example Masters thesis, within the fields of education and social sciences, or
through government departments. A
renaissance of Maori writers emerged during the early 1990s, in particular Maori
women academics and researchers who were keen to have Maori women’s voices
heard through research and writing. The
theoretical perspectives expressed the most within this body of literature
originate from within He Rangahau Maori and vary across this continuum from
Maori centred research (Durie, 1996) to Kaupapa Maori research (Tuhiwai-Smith,
1999). Qualitative research methods
have increasingly become regular practice within Maori research as these
processes provide a greater ability for tikanga Maori to occur within the
research practice. The main themes
of research questions appearing relate to discourse about the plight of Maori in
contemporary society, the relationship between Maori and colonisation,
redefining what it means to be Maori, and positive Maori development.
There are gaps evident in the current research specific to the positive
development of young Maori women as historically negative factors of development
have been the prime target of investigation and/or young men have received more
focus due to higher incidence rates of social problems (Ministry of Youth
There is minimal research specifically investigating motivation factors
of young Maori, let alone young Maori women. Katene (2002) provides some
refreshing insights in his investigations of what motivates Maori students to
learn and behave. Katene’s focus
was to explore Maori students’ perspectives regarding, what motivates them to
learn and behave, to understand whether existing theories of motivation were
relevant and how Maori culture influences motivation.
The research was conducted within a Maori research methodology using a
focus group to gain qualitative data. The
findings presented the students perspectives developed into a framework
encompassing te whare tapa wha, reflective of Durie’s (1994) description of
wellbeing for Maori. Specific
principles coincided with each of the four dimensions depicted within this
framework. These factors/principles enlighten an understanding
about what motivates young Maori to learn and behave.
Significant developments in
theorising Maori women’s discourse have occurred. These are evident in the
increasing numbers of theses, academic papers in journals, both national and
international by Maori women (Selby and Walsh-Tapiata, 2003). Largely the use of oral history methods has frequented these
terrains along with other qualitative research processes.
There are several examples of oral ‘her stories’ reflecting on the
survival, challenges, experiences, strengths, beliefs and leadership of Maori
women (Awatere, 1996; Binney and Chaplin, 1996; Bowkett, 1996; Edwards, 2002;
Fingleton, 1982; Flashoff, 1981; Fox and Tawhiwhirangi, 2003; Irwin and Ramsden,
1995; Jahnke, 1997; Jenkins and Pihama, 2001; King, 1982; King 1983; Madden,
1997; Mikaere, 1999; Paki-titi, 1998; Pewhairangi, 1985; Selby, 1996; Selby and
Rosier, 2002; Tawhiwhirangi, 2003; Te Awekotuku, 1991; Tomlins-Jahnke, 1997,
2000; Wharemaru and Duffie, 1997). All
of these examples provide Maori women with the opportunity to share their
knowledge, expertise, and experience. In
particular Brown (1994), Selby (1996) and Palmer’s (2000) research efforts
provide links to this study, as they each consider factors influencing success
and achievement of Maori women across different landscapes.
The reoccurring themes that appear within these studies include; cultural
identity, Maoritanga, status and the role/s of Maori women, education,
colonisation, and leadership. These
studies provide a backdrop from which this research topic is able to contribute
to a developing body of knowledge reflecting specifically on young Maori women.
Maori youth development
The main sponsor of research
within this area has been the Ministry of Youth Development, formerly known as
the Ministry of Youth Affairs. Recently
a major review of research was undertaken by this group.
This consisted of information reviewed largely from outside New Zealand
due to the limited research available on the development of young people in New
Zealand than in other countries because of the relatively small size of the
population and limited resources available for funding research.
As a result of this review it was clear that data available on young
Maori is scarce (Ministry of Youth Affairs, 2002).
The review’s main result was that it informed the Youth Development
Strategy 2002 which aimed to understand how government and society could support
youth in New Zealand.
In 1993 Pere Komene gathered the
stories of sixteen young Maori achievers, eight were women.
The interviews with these Maori role models showcased a variety of
skills, knowledge, excellence and achievement across diverse areas (including
employment, education, sport and arts). Essentially
the study aimed to encourage other young Maori to pursue education and/or
opportunities that will assist them to achieve high standards and goals.
The participants of the study were linked to Ngai Tahu, Ngati Toa, Ngati
Raukawa and Te Atiawa ki te Upoko o te Ika.
Although not specifically
research focused, there is also an increased availability and range of articles
being published in media journals, magazines and newspapers that highlight the
achievements of young Maori women across hapu and iwi.
The aim of this research is to
consider the concept of motivation and its link to positive youth development
for Maori women. The research aims
to identify and explore the motivating factors that have contributed to the
success of young Maori women who are leaders amongst their peers and who have
achieved recognition in a chosen field/s. The
research investigates the relationship between role modeling, identity and
leadership and how these factors influence positive development for young Maori
women. The research will provide
young Maori women with an opportunity to reflect on their own success and
contributes to a growing body of knowledge, which could be useful in the
development of strengths based practices for this group. The research also
observes how these factors influence positive development for young Maori women,
their whanau and the flow on effect this has for hapu and iwi.
My experiences are similar to
those shared by many young Maori women who progress through the stages of
putiputi, taonga and rangatira. The
nurturing place for this is within te ahi kaa – where our home fires burn and
where whanau relationships are reciprocal as we support each other in our life
trials, challenges, journeys and learning.
Whaia te iti kahurangi, ki te tuohu koe, me he maunga teitei
for what is precious – if you bow let it be to a lofty mountain.
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A Maori Centred Research Framework
Purpose of research
Health gains for Maori, Maori as positive, Maori development
Health is viewed as holistic and encompasses all aspects of Maori life and wellbeing
Practice of research
Active Maori participation, multiple methodologies, measures that are relevant to Maori
The information here is adapted from Durie (1996).
 In this context ‘family’ refers to my immediate whanau members (parents and siblings).
 Within this context ‘role’ is referring to the diverse functions, responsibilities, positions, place, or part.
Address given to the Aotearoa
World Indigenous Women and Wellness Gathering, Te Aranga Marae, Hastings.
15 November 2004.
 As guided by the Massey University Human Ethics Committee procedures involving human participants, 2001.
 See Appendix 1
 Manaakitanga, Awhina, Ngawari, Aroha, Whakangungu, Akonga ake, Tikanga, Utu.
Patae, Taiohe and Mana – The Maori news magazine for all New Zealanders,
are some media sources that provide feature stories on Maori youth
development. For convenience
these stories have not been referenced in detail as there are several
articles that can be linked to the themes within this paper versus the
overall research topic.