NEW ZEALAND'S BICULTURALISM AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF PUBLICLY FUNDED RONGOA (TRADITIONAL MAORI HEALING) SERVICES

Tony O'Connor

Abstract


The establishment of publicly funded Rongoa services was made possible by a bicultural model of government. My aim was to examine how biculturalism played out through that process. To do that I drew on eighteen months of working with some Rongoa healers and three interviews with government employees developing Rongoa services. What emerged from the development process was a certain form of Rongoa that some Maori did not recognize as either ‘authentically Maori’ or particularly useful as a form of health care. There appeared to be limits as to how ‘Rongoa’s’ take on the public purse could be justified and hence how Rongoa could proceed into the future as a government funded health service. For Rongoa to form part of New Zealand’s publicly funded health system it had to be complementary to (as in different, but not too different) from the kinds of health concepts that had already been publicly validated. Silenced by the development process were some concepts, practices and relationships that said much about how cultural-pluralism in the field of health was managed under a bicultural model of government.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.11157/sites-vol4iss1id28