Te Ara Hohou Rongo (The Path to Peace): M�ori Conceptualisations of Inter-group Forgiveness

Rata, Arama; Liu, James H.; Hanke, Katja
July 2008
New Zealand Journal of Psychology;Jul2008, Vol. 37 Issue 2, p18
Academic Journal
A reasonable body of psychological research focusing on forgiveness in interpersonal contexts has highlighted its benefits to psychological well-being (McCullouch, 2001; Enright, 2001; Murray, 2002). However, much of the existing literature has been sampled from Western populations, and has focused on forgiveness at the individual level. As a result, the conclusions drawn from such studies may not generalise well to group-level forgiveness, and may not be equally applicable across cultures. The present study investigated an indigenous perspective on forgiveness at the individual and group levels. We conducted in-depth, semi-structured interviews with 10 Maori (the indigenous people of New Zealand). Rongo (demonstration of commitment to restore relationships), whakapapa (interconnectedness between people, places, and events over time forming identity) and kaupapa (agenda set based on the costs and benefits of forgiveness) were identified as core themes using thematic analysis. Forgiveness was seen as a collective social process, and as an outcome requiring commitment from both the victim and the transgressor to maintaining their relationship. In the context of Maori- Pakeha relationships, it was felt that genuine remorse and commitment to transgress no more had not been achieved, and that honest communication was lacking. In such a context where colonization was seen as on-going, most interviewees felt that forgiveness was costly and inappropriate. The findings provided insights into the perceived usefulness of forgiveness in an ongoing conflict, and processes through which group relations could be improved.


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