AbstractsLaw & Legal Studies

Unto the Breaking Dawn: Finding Meaning and Relevance in Marae in 21st Century New Zealand - An Eastern Bay of Plenty Case Study

by Pounamu Jade William Aikman-Dodd

Institution: University of Otago
Year: 0
Keywords: relevance of marae; kin identity; tribal identity; marae ethnography; tribal marae; Rangataua; Te Pāhou; Wairaka; Te Whare o Toroa; Bay of Plenty
Record ID: 1308202
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10523/5424


The marae, an institution spanning hundreds of years and tens of generations, has experienced innumerable transformations as the fabric of society has been woven, unravelled, and restitched throughout the encounters of history. Tethered within two kin communities of the Eastern Bay of Plenty, this thesis examines how marae, as communities of kin interlinked by genealogical matrices entwined within specific landscapes, navigate the challenges of twenty-first century New Zealand. Through this process, this thesis examines how these kindred communities find meaning and relevance in their respective marae as they negotiate the struggles of living in contemporary society. Written primarily as an ethnographic account, supplemented by my own personal perspective, I argue that a marae is its people and a reflection of the wider issues in society. Moreover, marae are part of their wider environment instilled with ancestral meaning, and are evolving landscapes of knowledge into which the experiences of living kin are continually incorporated. The main concern identified for both marae was of the irregular return of kin due to historic and contemporary variables, such as urbanisation, education, and employment. I assert that in order for marae to remain relevant in the face of an increasingly dislocated descendant community, innovative and entrepreneurial ways of thinking must be employed to reinvigorate them in an organic manner, to see marae prosper as enduring symbols of kin identity.