Building a Virtual Papakāinga: A review of best practice

Project commenced:
Project completed

This project asks whether there are lessons to be had found in both the Māori Covid-19 response to date and the growing body of evidence that papakāinga living has benefits beyond the physical home that could inform a wider response to prepare whānau for current and future infectious disease threats and ultimately support ongoing socio-cultural connection and thus everyday good mental health?

Sustaining physical and mental health will become all the more important given the ongoing concern around the longer term impact of the inevitable recession and the disproportionate affect this will have on Māori (Kukutai, Moewaka Barnes, McCreanor and Mcintosh, 2020).

The project explores and illuminates the ‘tikanga’ practices in and around the Covid lockdown as background to understanding how and if an app might support ongoing connection for Māori whānau. Key questions include:

  • Whatchanged, what worked, what didn’t?
  • How did ‘online rituals’ work as identity markers for whānau & marae? For example ‘this is the way we do zoom’.
  • Did a shift to virtualtools shift power from the old to the young?
  • How quick were pakeke/kaumatua/whānau able to transition?

These findings will feed into a second part of the project that focuses on the development of a virtual papakāinga on the presumption that there are benefits to doing so. We hypothesise that a virtual papakāinga app, if done appropriately would allow the scaling-up of the benefits inherent in physical papakāinga for tamariki, rangatahi and young Māori whānau in particular, irrespective of their geographical location or living situation. The focus on younger Māori and whānau responds to the large proportion of the population (76% in 2013; Ministry of Health, n.d.) aged under the age of 45.

Current Covid-19 response is rightly, for the most part, focused on the health and wellbeing of kaumātua; however, this project seeks to fill the gap in provision by focusing on younger whānau who are building communities for tomorrow.

Ultimately, our aim is to reduce inequities for Māori not living in traditional Māori settings such as papakāinga by emulating, where possible, virtual opportunities to create similar outcomes. We ground this work in connecting whānau in a way that is based on tikanga 

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