Maori Alcholism

[added by Henry Park'94 (English 34, 1993)]

The explanation of the freqent drinking very probably lies in the status anxiety Rakau (a Maori community) men feel: they are confined to the lower levels of forestry employment; the executive jobs in other occupations in Rakau are also exclusively Pakeha-occupied: Pakeha live in better houses; they constitute (however unconsciously) a dominant majority. Rakau Maoris think of the dominant Pakeha culture as virile and aggresive and as a threat to their social (and perhaps their personal) integration. They are oriented to perceive the existence of Pakeha social organization as threatening to the isolation of the old Rakau.

Drinking in sessions achieves a peaceful (though often depressive) insulation from these anxieties. The session group is like a synthetic social safety chamber- it is outside the threatening Pakeha milieu and yet not part of the crumbling and insecure, traditional formal social organization of Rakau. A session solves nothing but is nevertheless valued because it enables the participants to ignore pressing problems. Solutions to Rakau's social problems or its people's personal problems are rarely easy for a person to confront realistically. Sessions are frequent because they are greatly needed (James E. Ritchie, The Making of a Maori, 88).

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Last Modified: 15 March, 2002