Māori political agency : a q-method study of Māori political attitudes in New Zealand.
Thesis DisciplinePolitical Science
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
While self-determination is often considered to mean political and sometimes territorial independence, for indigenous peoples that have been colonised self-determination often manifests in a different way. For Māori, the concept of tino rangatiratanga encapsulates many of the issues associated with the desire for political equality and self-determination. It includes the right for Māori to decide how they want to be governed, including having the ability to make decisions about their own futures, and it is contingent upon having a sense of political agency. To date there is little research that explores Māori political agency. The aim of this thesis is to address this research gap by examining what Māori aspire to as political agents, what some of the barriers to those aspirations might be, and whether Māori believe that they can make a difference in the political realm if they choose to do so. The thesis draws together several strands of literature, from empirical to theoretical, and examines Māori political agency in the context of self-determination. Primary data is also gathered and analysed using Q-methodology to better understand these questions. A further goal of this thesis is to analyse the effectiveness of traditional efficacy measures for studying political agency in indigenous groups. The results support the self-determination literature that argues that Māori want to have the ability to make decisions about their own futures. It also finds, as is to be expected of a diverse peoples, that there is no single view or aspiration in regard to political agency, and that attitudes to politics are as diverse as the participants themselves. Accessibility to political networks was identified as being important, but such networks were also identified as a potential barrier to agency. Thus, the findings suggest that there must be a degree of individual effort in order to achieve a sense of agency. The research also found several limitations with traditional efficacy measures for studying agency within indigenous groups. This is primarily due to the focus of such methods on institutional forms of political participation such as voting, which is assumed to have similar outcomes for everyone – for minorities this is not the case. Moreover, the data reveals that it is difficult to draw a linear relationship between efficacy, and participation, and that there may be other reasons individuals choose to participate in politics or not.
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