Journal Article

Perceptions of <i>Māori</i> Deaf Identity in New Zealand

Kirsten Smiler and Rachel Locker McKee

in The Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education

Volume 12, issue 1, pages 93-111
Published in print January 2007 | ISSN: 1081-4159
Published online October 2006 | e-ISSN: 1465-7325 | DOI:
Perceptions of Māori Deaf Identity in New Zealand

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  • Education
  • Linguistics
  • Teaching of Specific Groups and Special Educational Needs


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Following the reframing of “Deaf” as a cultural and linguistic identity, ethnic minority members of Deaf communities are increasingly exploring their plural identities in relation to Deaf and hearing communities of affiliation. This article examines Māori Deaf people's perceptions of identity, during a coinciding period of Tino Rangatiratanga (Māori cultural and political self-determination and empowerment)1 and the emergence of Deaf empowerment. Interviews with 10 Māori Deaf participants reveal experiences of enculturation into Māori and Deaf communities and how they negotiate identity in these contexts. Consistent with the model of contextual identity in Deaf minority individuals of Foster and Kinuthia (2003), participants expressed fluid identities, in which Māori and Deaf aspects are both central but foregrounded differently in their interactions with hearing Māori, Deaf Māori, and the wider Deaf community. This New Zealand case study illustrates how changing sociopolitical conditions affect Deaf minority individuals' opportunity to achieve and express identification with both Deaf-world and family heritage cultures.

Journal Article.  10312 words. 

Subjects: Education ; Linguistics ; Teaching of Specific Groups and Special Educational Needs

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