Drinking cultures

Kanohi ki te kanohi a thing of the past?

An examination of social networking sites and its impacts on tikanga (practices), tuakiritanga (identity) and whanaungatanga (relationships).

Dee O'Carroll

PhD successfully completed 2013
School of Psychology, Massey University

Dee's PhD thesis citation

Within Māori cultural tradition there is a strong orientation to the values-based idea that relationships among people flourish and rely on kanohi ki te kanohi interactions in both important and commonplace contexts. Historically, media and communications technologies have provided Māori with alternative tools and methods to practise culture, without necessarily having to be kanohi ki te kanohi.

Pressures of employment, education, financial and family contexts have become main drivers for Māori to leave their haukāinga. Responsibilities to return home to participate in cultural, social and political activities of the marae have meant that Māori living away seek alternative methods to contribute back to the haukāinga. Iwi, hapū and marae are faced with the challenge of shifting kanohi ki te kanohi practices and rituals to the virtual space to empower their people with the ability and access to participate and engage.

The Internet and social networking sites (SNS) are enabling Māori from all over the world to connect and engage in meaningful relationships with friends, family and communities as well as practise aspects of Māori culture. Interactions based on cultural practices have heralded a new era of the 'virtual marae' where language, customs and whanaungatanga are practised daily in SNS.

This thesis investigates the tensions that Māori face as they negotiate virtual spaces and navigate new territories of SNS, highlighting the pressures on kanohi ki te kanohi practice. The study develops a methodological framework of kaupapa Māori research praxis, iwi values and te reo me ōna tikanga to collect databases of individual and focus group interviews, two iwi case studies and an online survey. Through mainly qualitative exploration of these data, the domains of rangatahi usage, whanaungatanga, tuakiritanga and tikanga are traversed, to interrogate the contemporary ideas and trajectory of kanohi ki te kanohi values. It is evident through this research that SNS is changing the ways in which we communicate, articulate identity, socialise and practise culture.

Key findings bring to light a range of issues that Māoridom must grapple with to guide SNS usage in cultural contexts that considers kanohi ki te kanohi values and the future of marae. This thesis contributes new knowledge that marae, hapū, iwi, policy makers and educationalists can consider in order to optimise the potentials of SNS for Māori social and cultural advancement.

Information about this study

The increase of Māori use of Internet and social networking sites (SNS) has enabled Māori to locally and globally connect with family, friends and communities - all the while impacting on Māori ways of communicating (kanohi ki te kanohi). This research will examine how Māori are engaging with new SNS, such as Facebook, Bebo, Twitter, Google+ etc, in analysing its uses using a cultural lens.

Three inquiries will be made around the dynamics of online whakawhanaungatanga (relationship making and maintenance); the ways in which SNS facilitates cultural identity construction; and how tikanga Māori (Māori cultural practices & values) are being transferred in practice from the marae to the Internet. A new area of Māori research - this study intends to provide diverse data and information to iwi, hapū, marae and whānau about how Māori are engaging in SNS and the future of us as a people and a culture in how we connect, practice our tikanga and assert our identity.

The research I am undertaking will investigate the effects of social networking technologies on Māori ways of connecting with each other. Dr Helen Moewaka Barnes and Dr Tim McCreanor of Whariki are supervisors for my research. This PhD is part of a wider Marsden funded research project entitled “The Social Networking project” which focuses on social media and youth drinking cultures.

Project Update

Dee OCarroll PhD update, March 2013

Update - August 2012
“Thus far, I have completed three draft chapters and have started on the fourth chapter for my PhD thesis. These chapters include a methodology chapter; an article around how rangatahi Māori use SNS; an article which explores notions of whanaungatanga and how this concept is being redefined in SNS; and the current article which looks at theories of identity and the role in which SNS plays in Māori identity construction.

So far, I have appeared on Mataora (te reo Māori programme) speaking about my research, Te Pūtahi (a new series which will air in 2013), Radio Wātea and Radio Te Ati Awa Toa FM talking to my research. I have been invited to speak at the PIN Conference in Nelson (October 10-12) on my research and also to share the research with a group of Psychology students at the University of Auckland in September 2012.

Clearly the research is topical and is gaining much interest both in media and academia. It is my goal for the next few months to concentrate on writing the remaining chapters/articles and submitting articles for publication in selected journals!”

- Dee O’Carroll

Presentations & talks


  • International Indigenous Development Research Conference. 5th Biennial Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga conference. 27-30 June, 2012. Auckland, Aotearoa > more ...
  • NAISA (Native American & Indigenous Studies Association) Conference. 3 – 6 June, 2012. New York USA > more ...


  • MAI Kupenga Māori Doctoral Conference. Transformation: The Politics of Advancing Knowledge. 5 – 7 November, 2011. Hosted by Awanuiarangi - Whakatane, Aotearoa > more ...
  • Toihuarewa & Te Mata o te Tau Research Symposium. 18 November, 2011. Hosted by Victoria University & Massey University at Te Herenga Waka Marae, Wellington, Aotearoa > more ...


  • PhD Confirmation event – Massey University, Wellington, Aotearoa. > more ...

Contact the researcher

If you have any questions at all, please do not hesitate to contact the researcher or supervisors on the details listed below.

Researcher Acushla Dee O’Carroll

Supervisor Dr. Helen Moewaka-Barnes

Supervisor Dr. Tim McCreanor

Confirmation Event

Kanohi ki te Kanohi – A Thing of the Past? The Social Networking Project.
Acushla Dee O’Carroll, June 1, 2011
Click for Dee’s confirmation abstract and for Dee’s confirmation slide show.