Cultural dance as a life experience: perceptions of Maori performers in Melbourne
AuthorDunphy, Kim Frances
AffiliationFaculty of Education
MetadataShow full item record
Document TypeMasters Research thesis
CitationDunphy, K. F. (1996). Cultural dance as a life experience: perceptions of Maori performers in Melbourne. Masters Research thesis, Faculty of Education, The University of Melbourne.
Access StatusOpen Access
© 1996 Kim Frances Dunphy
This study examines the significance of cultural arts in the lives of seven performers in Te Ruawhenua, a Maori cultural group based in Melbourne, Australia. Respondents covered a diverse experience of age, gender and cultural backgrounds. Through qualitative analysis of interview transcripts supported by observations of rehearsals and performances, data were distilled into themes related to cultural identity, social benefits, individual expression and connected arts. Literature from a range of sources was reviewed as background to the topic and also to interpret the findings. Categories of literature included culture and ethnic identity, Maori culture, and cultural arts, particularly dance. This research has revealed both benefits and challenges of cultural group involvement. Membership of Te Ruawhenua provides role diversity adding to members’ lives a dimension which may have been a continuing affirming experience. It also offered opportunities for the intrinsic enjoyment of performing, the challenge of competing and pleasurable experiences that all members of a family could share. Te Ruawhenua members indicated that the group functioned like a supportive family, one which shares similar values and actively endeavours to pass them on to the next generation. This study reinforces earlier theories that Maori cultural arts activities offer a realm of positive benefits including cultural identification, social community and personal empowerment. Te Ruawhenua seemed to give members a sense of place and belonging which may have been traditionally provided by the tribe. At the same time, it also provided a focus towards the future, dealing with current concerns and issues for group members living in a western culture. In overview, frequent reference to cultural arts as offering both immediate pleasures and a deeper sense of identity and belonging was conveyed by seven Maori performers from a multi-generational context in Melbourne, Australia.
Keywordssocial aspects of dance; Maori folk dancing; Maoris; New Zealand people; attitudes; Maori songs; Melbourne (Victoria)
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