• whakapapa;
  • whanau;
  • genealogy;
  • genetics;
  • genetic curiosity;
  • personal identity


This paper provides part of an analysis of the use of the Maori term whakapapa in a study designed to test the compatibility and commensurability of views of members of the indigenous culture of New Zealand with other views of genetic technologies extant in the country. It is concerned with the narrow sense of whakapapa as denoting biological ancestry, leaving the wider sense of whakapapa as denoting cultural identity for discussion elsewhere. The phenomenon of genetic curiosity is employed to facilitate this comparison. Four levels of curiosity are identified, in the Maori data, which penetrate more or less deeply into the psyche of individuals, affecting their health and wellbeing. These phenomena are compared with non-Maori experiences and considerable commonalities are discovered together with a point of marked difference. The results raise important questions for the ethical application of genetic technologies.