Tracing whakapapa still difficult for Māori trying to find their roots

By Bronson Perich

An Auckland University academic is working on understanding those Māori who do not have their whakapapa. Dr Lara Greaves identified two groups of Māori who do not know their iwi and whakapapa connections.

“The real question there is like [sic], how many people who don’t know their iwi are just like Pākehā and they’ve got some Māori ancestry? But that’s not really bothering them,” Dr Lara Greaves says.

These people, she says, would identify themselves as being New Zealanders of Māori descent. The other group would be Māori, who identify as Māori, but do not know their iwi.

Dr Greaves identified several barriers that make it difficult for Māori to trace their roots. These include closed adoptions, not knowing parents, divorce and lack of record keeping.

"The Māori electoral roll, didn't get a printed roll until decades after the general role," Dr Greaves says.

Another part of her research includes finding out how many Māori live within their iwi/hapū rohe.