He Vaka Moana is a strengths-based project framed by oceanic principles and methodologies that connect us as Māori and Pasifika to the ocean. The underpinning kaupapa and theoretical framework of He Vaka Moana is the Tongan proverb “pikipiki hama kae vaevae manava”, which refers to our individual vaka coming together to support each other as we navigate the moana.
This paper discusses experiences of Māori who self-report that they are socially assigned as Pākehā and explores these experiences in relation to Māori identity and colonisation. Utilising Kaupapa Māori theory, methodology and methods, semi-structured interviews were undertaken with 10 participants. Three interrelated themes were identified through a thematic analysis: claims of identity, challenges to identity and reinforcement of identity.