Understanding the implementation of Individual placement and support evidence-based practices from Māori perspectives 

Rebecca Priest
21 February 2020

Priest, R. (2020). Understanding the implementation of Individual placement and support evidence-based practices from Māori perspectives. (Abstract of a thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the Masters of Occupational Therapy at Otago Polytechnic, Dunedin, New Zealand.)


The purpose of this interpretive description study was to understand what factors enabled satisfactory engagement and outcomes for Māori in a rural northland individual placement and support (IPS) service. At the time of the study, the Northland IPS program was reporting good fidelity to the evidence base for IPS alongside recording 41.1% program outcomes for Māori. The question addressed by this study was: what are the critical factors for successful engagement and outcomes for Māori in a rural employment support program in Aotearoa New Zealand?

This research was carried out by a non-Māori, so local consultation and a Māori rangahau whānau (research family) was critical to the success of the project. A bicultural partnership approach was developed and members of the rangahau whānau supported the collection and analysis of the data. A focus group of seven staff and separate individual interviews with eight program participants was conducted by the researcher and a member of the rangahau whānau. These interviews sought to illicit the key elements for success.

Three key occupational themes were found.

(1) Manaakitanga: welcoming engagement;

(2) Whakawhānaungatanga: the journey, and;

(3) Ka mua, ka muri: the destination.

The findings support previous IPS research and confirm that the principles underpinning the IPS approach are considered important factors for enabling engagement and outcomes for Māori. Namely, participants want a job that matches their skills, abilities and talents. In addition, the study confirmed that trust, hope and empowerment are essential to an employment journey for Māori and finding work improves mental, physical, emotional and financial wellbeing. The importance of whānau was strongly emphasized throughout the research.

As part of the bicultural partnership approach, participants in this research were given the opportunity to decide whether they would like to be named. Seven of the eight wished to publish their full names and are identifiable. Ethics and consent was gained for this as part of cultural responsivity.

As well as building on previous research, the findings of this study add to the vocational rehabilitation literature for people with severe mental illnesses and addiction issues, in particular:

(1) It is important to create an environment that is culturally familiar to an individual entering an IPS program.

(2) An ES needs to have values and skills that are culturally familiar to participants.

(3) Best outcomes occur when the employment specialist (ES) and program participants are equal partners and both hold responsibility in establishing a connection.

(4) Utilisation of the clinical team’s good community reputation can mitigate against past criminal convictions or the personal reputation of program participants in rural towns.

(5) It is possible to blend Individual placement and support (IPS) with cultural knowledge and cultural competency to create a bicultural practice.

Key words: Culture; Employment Support; Vocational Rehabilition; Māori; Evidence Based Practice; Mental Health and Addiction

Becki Priest's research was supervised by Mary Butler and Helen Lockett.


This thesis is protected by the Copyright Act 1994 (New Zealand). All rights are reserved.