Abstract

In the context of contemporary New Zealand, this paper discusses the need for occupational therapy to substantiate its claims of being a holistic profession with particular reference to the Maori, the indigenous people of New Zealand (referred to by the Maori as Aotearoa). In this era of accountability and consumer choice, occupational therapists need to more effectively meet the cultural needs of their clients through an understanding of both the material and nonmaterial aspects of their cultures. However, for New Zealand occupational therapists, cultural sensitivity is not enough to contribute to changing the diminished life chances of the Maori. It is proposed in this paper that the Model of Human Occupation (Kielhofner, 1985: Kielhofner & Burke, 1980), when combined with the work of radical community educators such as Freire (1972), could provide the sociopolitical dimension to New Zealand practice. The Model of Human Occupation is examined in light of current occupational therapy practice in New Zealand. It is argued that this model, when accompanied by a broader understanding of the sociopolicical processes informing monoculturalism, could be seen as a suitable framework for understanding cultural differences in New Zealand and could assist in the move toward providing culturally appropriate occupational therapy for indigenous peoples such as the Maori.

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