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Māori (the indigenous peoples of Aotearoa, New Zealand) are intimately connected to wai (i.e., water) yet are overrepresented in New Zealand’s drowning statistics each year. On average Māori account for 20-24% of all preventable and non-preventable drowning fatalities, despite comprising only 15 percent of New Zealand’s population. Drowning remains a significant issue posing a threat to whānau (i.e., families) through premature death being imminent and whakapapa (i.e., genealogy) being interrupted. There is limited research that has examined Māori and indigenous understandings of water safety within the literature and limited studies that have investigated the issue of Māori drowning from a distinctly Māori or indigenous approach. This paper proposes a theory of Māori water safety depicted as the Wai Puna model and draws on three core concepts pertinent to a Māori worldview: whakapapa, mātauranga (i.e., Māori knowledge and ways of knowing) and tikanga (i.e., customs, practices). Wai Puna provides the foundation for conceptualising Māori water safety in a New Zealand context and a way forward for other indigenous communities around the world to redefine water safety and drowning prevention from their distinct worldviews that reflect their unique beliefs and attitudes to water and thus to water safety.
Phillips, Chanel Ph.D.
"Wai Puna: An Indigenous Model of Māori Water Safety and Health in Aotearoa, New Zealand,"
International Journal of Aquatic Research and Education: Vol. 12
, Article 7.
Available at: https://scholarworks.bgsu.edu/ijare/vol12/iss3/7
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