Wāhine Māori, Wāhine Ora, Wāhine Kaha: preventing violence against Māori women

Primary prevention of violence against women is an approach that seeks to stop violence against women before it occurs in the first place.  It is an internationally emerging field of practice with a growing evidence base about what works.  However, research on how it is understood and how effective it is in diverse cultural contexts is limited. 

Māori women are twice as likely to experience violence as other New Zealand women.  This report explores what Māori women believe to be the key factors to keeping them and their whānau safe from ever becoming victims of violence.

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Purpose

"Whānau provides preventative layers for women and children”

The purpose of this paper is to assist agencies that work in New Zealand’s family violence sector to recognise and respond to the expectations that Māori women have for themselves and for their whānau in terms of living violence-free lives. While it provides new insight, this research did not begin on a blank canvas. Importantly, it builds on an existing knowledge base and long-standing efforts across the family violence sector to reduce and prevent family violence in Māori homes. Māori have been very clear about the issue of family violence, and the solutions. This paper adds to that body of knowledge and practice by giving rise to the voice of Māori 6 women and service providers while also recognising the important contributions made by Māori men and whānau. 

Key Results

This report demonstrates the diversity of interpretation and opinion on what it takes to keep Māori women safe from ever becoming victims of violence. However, we know that there are some key themes. We know that whānau is a protective factor for some where as for others, it is a risk factor. Education, employment and Māori identity are supporting factors for well being but not to the extent that they prevent violence from occuring. Clarity of gender roles and responsibilities are important for good relationships within whānau, hapū and iwi and whether traditional or contemporary roles are prescribed to, the sense of understanding one’s place, whether men or women, is crucial.

The diversity of experience among research participants has meant that research insights in this report can be located in a number of places within ‘Ngā whare e rua: a two house model’ framework. This is not to say that research participants necessarily subscribe to either one of the houses. Rather, it indicates diverse and dynamic participants’ experiences are. Importantly, it shows that Māori women have more than one voice though they are united on many issues. 

As a document to inform future practice, this report shows that there are community-based approaches that operate on the premise that safe communities are nourished by healthy families and whānau. We know that service providers understand what they need in order to further develop primary prevention initiatives.

This research will provide the practical basis for service providers and policy makers who to develop approaches that will accomodate the specific perspectives and needs of Māori women and their whānau.

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