The social context of alcohol use among Māori in Aotearoa/New Zealand: Reflections of life experiences of alcohol use by older Māori

  • Sarah Herbert
  • Margaret Forster
  • Timothy McCreanor
  • Christine Stephens
Keywords: Older Māori, alcohol, social context, thematic analysis, Māori-centred research, Indigenous, cultural identity, social networks


To broaden public health approaches to alcohol use, this study provides an initial exploration of the social context of alcohol use among Māori in Aotearoa/New Zealand, from the perspectives of older Māori. Utilising a Māori-centred research approach, face-to-face interviews were conducted with 13 older Māori people to explore their personal experiences of alcohol use across their lifetime. Thematic analysis was used to identify common themes that contextualised stories of alcohol use within a Māori cultural framework. Four themes were identified: alcohol use within (1) a sporting culture, (2) a working culture, (3) the context of family, and (4) Māori culture. These themes highlight the influence of social factors such as the desire to socialise and seek companionship; the physical location of alcohol use; the importance of social networks, particularly whānau (family); and the role of cultural identity among Māori. In regard to cultural identity, the role of the marae (traditional meeting place/s of Māori), tikanga (the right way of doing things), and the relationship of kaumātua (respected elder) status to personal and whānau alcohol use are highlighted as important focuses for further research among Māori in Aotearoa/New Zealand.

Research Papers