Decolonising Ethics: Considerations of Power, Politics and Privilege in Aotearoa/New Zealand




Māori, decolonisation, indigenous ethics, care ethics, care and protection, self-determination


Indigenous peoples across the world have a shared experience of colonisation; a process that has resulted in war, disease and the decimation of their lands, homes and peoples. In New Zealand, the effects of colonisation are still evident with MÄori (the indigenous people of New Zealand) experiencing poorer outcomes compared with non-MÄori citizens across a range of social, health and well-being indicators. This paper is a case study of work being done in New Zealand, which may have resonance with work in South Africa, and other countries with a history of colonisation. It begins with a brief history of the impacts of colonisation on MÄori before considering the concept of decolonisation. The author outlines the work her organisation does as an independent, tribally owned, MÄori health research centre to advance a decolonisation agenda. Reflecting on their emancipatory and democratising ambitions as researchers provides the opening for a discussion about indigenous ethics. The paper presents a number of MÄori ethical principles that guide their work, arguing that were such principles applied in the development and implementation of social policy and legislation, the effect would be a fairer, more equitable policy that better meets the needs of MÄori as citizens. Recent legislation enacted to improve New Zealand’s care and protection system for children is discussed to illustrate the need for greater consideration of MÄori values when developing legislation that directly impacts MÄori. The paper concludes with a challenge to policymakers, practitioners, academics, and researchers alike to actively contribute to an agenda of liberation, emancipation and decolonisation for indigenous peoples.


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Author Biography

Amohia Boulton, Whakauae Research for Māori Health and Development

Research Centre Director




How to Cite

Boulton, Amohia. 2018. “Decolonising Ethics: Considerations of Power, Politics and Privilege in Aotearoa/New Zealand”. Southern African Journal of Social Work and Social Development 30 (1):15 pages.
Received 2018-01-30
Accepted 2018-03-26
Published 2018-06-19