Local-Indigenous Autonomy and Community Streetscape Enhancement: Learnings from Māori and Te Ara Mua-Future Streets Project

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Jan 20;18(3):865. doi: 10.3390/ijerph18030865.


In settler countries, attention is now extending to the wellbeing benefits of recognising and promoting the Indigenous cultural identity of neighbourhoods as a contributing factor to more equitable and healthier communities. Re-indigenisation efforts to (re)implement cultural factors into urban design can be challenging and ineffective without the leadership and collaboration of local-Indigenous peoples. Undertaken in Aotearoa New Zealand, Te Ara Mua - Future Street project, demonstrated that co-design has critical potential in the reclamation of Indigenous autonomy, increased local-Indigenous presence and revitalisation of cultural identity. Employing a Kaupapa Māori (Māori-centred) research approach, we focused on the workings and perspectives of mana whenua (local-Indigenous peoples) and community stakeholder engagement in Te Ara Mua. An Indigenous theoretical framework, Te Pae Mahutonga, was utilised in the data analysis to explore perspectives of Indigenous collective agency, empowerment, and wellbeing. Our research demonstrates that developing capacity amongst Indigenous communities is integral for effective engagement and that the realisation of autonomy in urban design projects has broader implications for Indigenous sovereignty, spatial justice and health equity. Significantly, we argue that future community enhancement strategies must include not only re-designing and re-imagining initiatives, but also re-indigenising.

Keywords: Indigenous; Māori; co-design; indigenous autonomy; re-indigenisation; streetscapes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Health Promotion*
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Leadership
  • Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander*
  • New Zealand