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DOI

10.25035/ijare.12.03.07

Disciplines

Bilingual, Multilingual, and Multicultural Education | Exercise Physiology | Exercise Science | Folklore | Health and Physical Education | Indigenous Education | Kinesiology | Leisure Studies | Other International and Area Studies | Outdoor Education | Pacific Islands Languages and Societies | Public Health | Social and Cultural Anthropology | Sociology of Culture | Sports Studies | Tourism and Travel

Abstract

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.

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