This thesis explores communication infrastructures at the margins of Indigeneity to
understand Māori health and wellbeing meanings, challenges, strategies and
solutions, articulated by whānau whose voices have been ignored, or not sought.
Māori health and wellbeing understandings, forged amidst ongoing colonial
processes of socioeconomic and health inequities, are best articulated by Māori with
these lived experiences. The communication platforms established by the settler
colonial state are infused with power dynamics that determine the communication
rules including who can speak, what can be said and how that should be delivered.
The privileging of communicative spaces to experts, leaders, and community
champions, shaped by the underlying ideology of whiteness that organises the settler
colonial state, forecloses the space to those not fitting these categories.
Māori health and wellbeing meanings emphasise the totality of Whakapapa as
a basis for communicating health and wellbeing. Kaupapa Māori theory, and
Whakapapa as a super-connector of relationships both in the spiritual and physical
domains, anchored the research. Rooted in Māori epistemology, the enduring
intergenerational relationship between health and land formed the basis for the
participants’ understandings of health and wellbeing.
Positioned also in dialogue with the Culture-Centered Approach (CCA), we
foreground whānau voices through the co-creation of voice infrastructures at the
margins of Indigeneity, with whānau members candidly sharing lived experiences
navigating health and wellbeing through the establishment of the Feilding advisory
group. The interplay of land, rivers and health is a dominant theme. Strategies for
improving health and wellbeing include co-creating communicative infrastructures,
such as platforms for voices to emerge at the margins of Indigeneity. The campaigns
documented buttress the importance of regaining stolen land, (re)connecting to land
through the collective establishment of māra kai with the advisory group. Indigenous
communication infrastructures disrupt hegemonic, top-down configurations of health
and wellbeing campaigns, providing the impetus for localised strategies to emerge
into mainstream communicative spaces. Voice and the right for the “margins of the
margins” to be listened to by the Crown are also included as taonga in article two, Te
Tiriti o Waitangi. The co-creation, resource sharing and decision-making about
communicative infrastructures can be harnessed to drive health equity.