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This study set out to discover the meanings that are created and the learning that is experienced for young Māori women while at tangi. The institutions in which the young women learn and develop their identity were also of interest. The attitudes that young women held towards their involvement at tangi was also investigated.

The tangihanga is a cultural institution where the rituals and customs of Māori are enacted. It is also a time of grief and sadness as people farewell the deceased. The participants in this research all shared the many experiences they had whilst at tangi. These experiences included the loss of close family members, spending time with family, working on the marae and interacting and taking part in marae tikanga and protocols. The young women discussed their roles within the marae and the obligations that they felt whilst in attendance of tangi. They also shared their understandings towards death and traditional practices, explaining from their own perspectives why things were done a certain way. The participants also shared what they enjoyed the most and what was least enjoyable about their time while at tangi and what tangi meant for them personally.

When looking at the aims of this study and reviewing the discussed in the literature review it appears that the tangihanga provides an environment where cultural knowledge is shared with young women. The women are socialised into the environment by observing and interacting with older members of the group.

The participants shared that predominantly it would be older female family members that would help train the girls into their roles whilst at the marae. The family of the participants played a major importance for the young women in sharing grief but also in providing support and assistance. The young women shared the importance of being able to work together with family and help others.

For them working on the marae provided positive emotions towards others it also helped them feel connected and part of the collective. The participants shared their emotions, attitudes and experiences while at tangi. The participants found

tangihanga to be a place where they could learn more about their culture and an experience that sparked a desire to learn more. People were fare welled but the

65 grief was shared and expressed in an open environment the participants found support and comfort for themselves and of others. Although there was a diverse amount of experience amongst the participants all shared the importance of being involved in this significant event was for them.

Implications of this research

From this research we gain a clearer understanding of how young people may feel towards some of the traditional aspects of tangihanga. Many of the young women enjoyed the feeling of taking part in cultural practices but at times they struggled due to a lack of knowledge and understanding. This may be of concern as these young women may eventually be in the role of teaching and passing on their knowledge of these traditions to future generations. It is important that the

transference of cultural knowledge continues and thus participating and attending tangi is vital as it provides opportunities for young people to learn and develop in this area.

For all of the young women an older family member such as a grand-mother or mother was a vital element in transferring the knowledge of the roles and responsibilities‟ that they young women were expected to fulfil whilst at tangi.

Some of these roles included working in the kitchen, taking part in powhiri, singing songs and looking after older family members. It will be important for these relationships to be supported and encouraged as the older family members were vital in providing the young women with instruction during the tangihanga.

The participants had varied amounts of experience with tangi attendance but all shared their thoughts towards the meaning of the tangihanga process for them.

This research aimed to put across the perspectives of young Māori women and attempted to gain a clearer understanding of the experiences of these young women at the tangihanga. The experiences shared by the participant‟s advocates for the tangihanga as being an environment that encourages, supports and helps form identity. Although some of the participants had limited access to cultural environments due to a number of reasons they all expressed an attitude of respect for the traditions and a desire to learn more.

66 The findings of this research suggest that the tangi plays an important role in young people‟s lives as it provides them with access to Māori communities and cultural learning. This is important for young people as it helps them to form a secure cultural identity. Thus the challenge for us today is to ensure that these opportunities continue to occur for young Māori women, that they are provided and supported in their cultural development.

Limitations of this study

It is important to address some limitations of this study. Firstly, the small sample size makes it hard to make generalisations about the findings. The women were also interviewed in only two regions; Waikato and Wellington. A couple of the participants had links with Northland but there was still not a fair representation of young women from other regions within New Zealand. The findings may have been different if I had ensured to recruit participants from other regions.

Another limitation of this study was the inconsistencies with the interview

schedules used with participants. Only two participants were interviewed a second time with the second interview schedule. If all of the participants have been re-interviewed using the second interview schedule the study could have possibly received a wider range of opinions regarding death and spiritual beliefs around death. There were also inconsistencies in the responses from the participants.

This may have been due to a number of reasons such as the age of the participants, the topic of death or funerals and the inexperience of the researcher in drawing out responses from the participants.

Another limitation that may be viewed of this study was that the aim was to gain adolescent experiences of tangi but the interviewees were slightly older then this age group (18-24) is normally considered to be. So for parts of this project the interviews responses were retrospective, it may be useful to interview a younger group of participants in order to fully gain access to the adolescent experiences of young women at tangihanga.

Areas for future research

This study is one of a small body of growing research investigating tangihanga.

Although this is one of the first of its kind in exploring the contemporary

67 meanings of tangihanga with regards to young Māori women‟s experiences. So this study may act as a starting point for further research in this area. Future research areas could include:

 A broader study of this topic with a wider range of participants from different parts of the country, representing different iwi around New Zealand.

 An investigation into the roles and responsibilities of young Māori men at tangihanga may also be of interest.

 Investigations on how cultural traditions and knowledge are transferred to young women in family with Pākehā and Māori parents

 Investigating other important cultural occasions on the marae or other settings and the benefits that this has for young women today

From this study we have gained valuable insight into the experiences of young Māori women while at tangihanga. The young women found the tangi to be a place of learning and an environment that helped them to negotiate bereavement and loss in a supported setting.

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