Sport Psychology Consulting With Indigenous Athletes: The Case of New Zealand Māori

in Journal of Clinical Sport Psychology

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Ken HodgeUniversity of Otago, New Zealand

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Lee-Ann SharpUniversity College Plymouth St. Mark and St. John, United Kingdom

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Justin Ihirangi HekeTe Whare Wananga o Raukawa, New Zealand

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Sport psychology consulting with athletes who are from an indigenous ethnic group presents some challenges and opportunities that do not typically need to be considered when consulting with nonindigenous athletes. Māori1 are the indigenous ethnic group of New Zealand. To work as a sport psychology consultant with Māori athletes and indeed any indigenous athletes (e.g., Tahitian, First Nation Canadian Indian) it is important for the sport psychologist to have an understanding of Te Ao o Nga Tāngata Whenua (indigenous worldview) and tīkanga Tāngata Whenua (indigenous cultural practices; Hanrahan, 2004; Schinke & Hanrahan, 2009; Tuhiwai-Smith, 1999). Both research and practice in the social sciences regarding Māori people seek to use a Kaupapa Māori (Māori research and practice platform) approach. Kaupapa Māori attempts to ensure that cultural sensitivity is infused from the conceptualization of an intervention (e.g., psychological skills training, psychological intervention) through to the design, delivery, evaluation, final analysis, and presentation of the intervention or research project. A Kaupapa Māori approach to sport psychology consulting attempts to ensure that key Māori aspirations are honored and celebrated, as many Māori do not wish to follow a non-Māori ideology that depersonalizes the whānau (family) perspective and seeks individuality in its place (Durie, 1998a; Mead, 2003). Therefore, an effective sport psychology consulting program for an athlete who lives her or his life from a Te Ao Māori (Māori worldview) and tīkanga Māori (Māori cultural practices) perspective needs to be constructed as a Māori-for-Māori intervention based within a Kaupapa Māori framework.

Ken Hodge is with the School of Physical Education at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand. Lee-Ann Sharp is with University College Plymouth St. Mark and St. John in the United Kingdom. Justin Heke is with Te Whare Wananga o Raukawa in New Zealand.

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