Sunday, April 14, 2024

Lindsay Mitchell: The case for cultural connectedness

A recent report generated from a Growing Up in New Zealand (GUiNZ) survey of 1,224 rangatahi Māori aged 11-12 found:

Cultural connectedness was associated with fewer depression symptoms, anxiety symptoms and better quality of life.

That sounds cut and dry. But further into the report the following appears:

Cultural connectedness is important for mental wellbeing, however it may not support depression and anxiety symptoms and quality of life in exactly the same way.


The group of children was divided into three sub-groups determined by their degree of ‘structural disadvantage’ (material hardship, severe housing deprivation/homelessness, and food insecurity): persistently low, intermittently high and persistently high.

The following chart shows the greater the cultural connectedness is (horizontal axis) the higher the anxiety symptoms are (vertical axis) for the persistently low (yellow) and persistently high (blue) disadvantaged groups.

Click to view

There is no attempt by the authors of the paper to explain why this may be the case. What they do say is, “…the paper makes an important contribution by exploring whether cultural connectedness buffers the harms caused by structural disadvantage on rangatahi mental wellbeing.”

Based on the above finding cultural connectedness exacerbates the harm, at least in respect of anxiety symptoms.

The relationships between disadvantage and a/depression and b/ quality of life are also explored showing positive correlations BUT:

… none of these relationships were significant, indicating that cultural connectedness did not have a buffering effect on depression symptoms. There was also no significant buffering effect of cultural connectedness on quality of life scores for rangatahi Māori.

Obviously disappointed in what they describe as “mixed evidence” the authors suggest, “this finding is not surprising as it would be unreasonable to expect that having a strong sense of identity and feelings of belonging in early adolescence might undo generations of harm caused by colonialism and racism and the multiple and interacting structural disadvantages that play out in the lives of rangatahi Māori.”

Having established cultural connectedness has no demonstrable usefulness as a buffer against adolescent depression or anxiety the authors then change tack and argue another reason for its importance:

Achieving the government’s vision … requires actions that will enable rangatahi Māori to develop a strong cultural connectedness not as a resilience or coping strategy but rather as part of a broader Treaty-compliant, pro-equity, anti-racist and human rights-based approach. Anti-racism action will require a commitment to invest in strategies that will systematically dismantle the structures that contribute to inequities in rangatahi Māori mental wellbeing (1,21). This paper provides new insights into the powerful potential of policies that address structural disadvantage and enable rangatahi Māori to flourish in their identity as Māori.

The paper provides nothing of the sort.

What it does provide is evidence that the GUiNZ study has been captured by politicised academics pushing their own racist agenda.

The future funding for GUiNZ is currently under a question mark. According to RNZ, “The current uncertainty over funding for the study comes amid wider fears about science funding.”

Science? You be the judge.

Lindsay Mitchell is a welfare commentator who blogs HERE. - where this article was sourced.


Anonymous said...

This is a useful finding and shows that pagan cultures like those of pre-Christian Maori aren’t the answer for healthy society. This was a lesson most Maori learnt in the 19th Century when they abandoned their mythological Gods, Utu and endless tribal warfare and chose Christianity instead. The knew what they wanted and it wasn’t what they inherited. They wanted what was promised to all men: Eternal happiness. Actual happiness in this life is fleeting and who wouldn’t get down with nothing better to hope for when we pass into the next life.

Erica said...

Much of our educational ideology in Progressive education is centered on deification of children raised without the civilizing influence of Western Culture. J.J Rousseau's "the Noble Savage' apparently is free while those raised in a Christian environment are bound up in chains. These crazy sentimental European liberal ideas combined with Maori radicals condemning colonization which they imagine produces victims even generations later has got us nowhere in addressing Maori social problems.

Traditional effective science based teaching methods and values including morality and discipline are what Maori children need most. There is little hope for a bright future in our society if you are barely literate and numerate in English and lacking a work ethic. Without this hope you could only be depressed. I do agree with Anonymous above as well in dealing with the spiritual dimension.

robert Arthur said...

it would be greatto read this sort of balanced wrirng in the msm but whilst that is relentlessly pro maori we will not.
the best adjusted and most confident trace maori I know have distanced themselves from stone age maori twaddle.

Anonymous said...

I guess one would feel pretty secure growing up, knowing that one will be enslaved/killed/ eaten sooner rather than later.