Coastguard is the primary marine search and rescue agency in New Zealand with 2, 000 volunteers around the country. Although Māori have significant cultural connections to the wai (water), as an organisation Coastguard is a monocultural environment. Knowledge and engagement with te ao Māori (the Māori world) is very limited and only 3% of Coastguard volunteers identify as tangata whenua (people of the land – referring to Māori as indigenous to Aotearoa New Zealand). The aim of this research is to understand how Coastguard can make an effective change to include a Māori worldview in the organisation and engage better with tangata whenua.
The research involves two core elements. The first is textual analysis examing literature on monoculturalism, deficit thinking across the Search and Rescue Sector and how we meet te ao Māori. This is followed by kōrero (conversation) with four Coastguard volunteers with Māori whakapapa (genealogy) that centres their lived experience and expertise to identify how Coastguard can make an effective step change when it comes to working with iwi (tribe), hapū (sub-tribe) and whānau (family) Māori.
The research identifies a number of commonalities in the Māori experience at Coastguard and provides a number of recommendations that Coastguard can undertake to be able to deliver better for and with Māori.