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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Māori-Tūhoe epistemology : stages of sustaining tribal identity through Tūhoe performing arts Fraser, Tina Ngāroimata


Many Indigenous peoples cite the processes of colonization as the single greatest contributor to the loss of language, culture, land, and tribal practices. In 1971, the Tūhoe tribe of the Eastern Bay of Plenty in New Zealand established Te Hui Ahurei ā Tūhoe (The Unique Gathering of Tūhoe) to retain their culture and language. This bi-yearly, performative arts gathering affords those tribal members living outside of the region the opportunity to return to their tribal lands to rekindle kinship ties and tribal practices. This dissertation focuses on the experience of being Tūhoe, as described by a single participating haka (song and dance) group (Ngāti Haka-Patuheuheu). It identifies how people develop and sustain their individual and collective tribal identity through Māori performing arts and how Te Hui Ahurei ā Tūhoe contributes to the continued transformation of Tūhoe self-determination. In order to focus on the experience of Tūhoe identity, this dissertation poses two major research questions: (1) How is Tūhoe epistemology transmitted/transformed through traditional performing arts? And (2) How does Te Hui Ahurei a Tūhoe sustain tribal identity? Māori-Tūhoe identity is centred on their language and culture; therefore, this research was conducted in a culturally sensitive and community-centred manner. A Kauapapa Māori Research Approach and a Māori Centred research approach enabled the Māori-Tūhoe participants to share their knowledge(s), epistemology, ontology and pedagogy for developing their identity. I examined emerging trends in the development of Tūhoe identity through interviews, focus groups, observations, scholarly literature, and personal experiences. In order to ensure the development and sustainablity of Tūhoe identity, it is essential for Tūhoe to develop both an individual and collective identity, which will challenge them to develop their knowledge and understanding of how and what Tūhoe identity is. Performing Arts, for Maori-Tūhoe, are integral component of developing who the Tūhoe are: they enable the transmission / transformation of knowledge(s), create a place to encourage tribal identity, and act as a site of resistance to new forms of colonization.

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