Māori consider water to be the foundation of all life; it is a valued taonga gifted by our ancestors that provides sustenance and nourishment to communities and enhances hauora Māori (Royal, 2010). For generations, Māori have participated in water-related activities such as fishing, gathering kai, diving, waka and swimming (Karapu et al., 2007). It is through these activities in and around the water that hauora Māori can be enhanced. Despite this positive relationship with water, Water Safety New Zealand (2022) statistics demonstrate high drowning rates for Māori, with the 2021 drowning toll being the highest since 2001.
Haka is a taonga that is steeped in whakapapa and has its origins in the creation of the universe, generating an abundance of meaning and value for Māori. On a national stage, haka is by far the most visible Indigenous ritual within the fabric of Aotearoa New Zealand’s national identity and continues to have a lasting legacy within the realm of sport. However, a major source of contention is the impact of globalisation on haka in sport, which has seen increasing issues of misuse, commodification, appropriation and tokenism.
Whakapapa is the essence of health and well-being. Whakapapa is a tool, created by our tūpuna to frame our existence as Māori. By identifying the names of places and people, we create a timeline of locators of who we are, where we come from and where we exist today. The opportunity to “walk our pepeha” enables us to not only identify these places but also to engage with them, making the connection stronger. It is through whakapapa that we can identify who and where we come from; this is vital to identity and therefore to health and well-being. In this article we examine the experiences of rangatahi engaging with and learning about their whakapapa.
Te Koronga is a Māori research excellence rōpū that Professor Anne-Marie Jackson and Dr Hauiti Hakopa founded at the University of Otago. The year 2023 marks the 10th anniversary of Te Koronga. Over the past 10 years, Te Koronga has been successfully supporting and producing excellent Māori researchers. A collective of current Te Koronga tauira, many of whom have contributed to other articles in this issue, have written this concluding article of the Te Koronga MAI Special Issue. We are unapologetically proud to be Te Koronga. Why?