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Collaborative research stories : whakawhanaungatanga

February 16, 2012

Just mentioning an interesting resource, the abstract of which gives some clues to the field…


Collaborative research stories : whakawhanaungatanga

Bishop, Alan Russell
Degree Name:Doctor of Philosophy
Degree Discipline:Faculty of Education
Publisher:University of Otago
Subject:Maori; research; kaupapa Maori; kura kaupapa Maori; biculturalism
Research Type:Thesis
[Unfortunately, it’s not freely available online – but through interloan – still, the abstract gives some sense of the work!]


This thesis seeks to acknowledge and address the concerns that Māori people voice about research into their lives. The present study shows that Māori people are concerned that the power and control over research issues of initiation, benefits, representation, legitimation and accountability are addressed by the imposition of the researcher’s agenda, concerns and interests on the research process. Such dominance of a Western orientated discourse is being challenged by a pro-active, Kaupapa Māori research approach. This approach is part of the revitalisation of Māori cultural aspirations, preferences and practices as a philosophical and productive educational stance and resistance to the hegemony of the dominant discourse in Aotearoa/New Zealand.Kaupapa Māori research is collectivistic, and is orientated toward benefiting all the research participants and their collectively determined agendas. Kaupapa Māori Research is based on growing concensus that research involving Māori knowledge and people needs to be conducted in culturally appropriate ways, ways that fit Māori cultural preferences, practices and aspirations in order to develop and acknowledge existing culturally appropriate approaches in the method, practice and organisation of research.This thesis examines how a group of researchers have addressed the importance of devolving power and control in the research exercise in order to promote self-determination (tino Rangatiratanga) of Māori people. In the thesis I have talked with researchers who have accepted the challenge of positioning themselves within the discursive practice that is Kaupapa Māori. As a result, this thesis examines how such positionings challenge what constitutes a process of theory generation within the context of Aotearoa/New Zealand.This thesis further seeks to examine a way of knowing that reflects what meanings I can construct from my positioning within an experiential Kaupapa Māori research matrix. My position within this matrix resulted from critical reflections on my participation in a research group with an agreed-to agenda, my participation within the projects considered in the narratives in this thesis, my talking with other research participants in the form termed quot;interviews as chatquot; and from our constructing joint narratives about their/our attempts to address Māori concerns about research in their practice.The broad methodological framework used in the thesis is narrative inquiry for such an approach allows the research participants to select, recollect and reflect on stories within their own cultural context and language rather than in that chosen by the researcher. In other words, the story teller maintains the power to define what constitutes the story and the truth and the meaning it has for them. Further, this thesis seeks to investigate my own position as a researcher within a co-joint reflection on shared experiences and co-joint construction of meanings about these experiences, a position where the stories of the other research participants merged with my own to create new stories. Such collaborative stories go beyond an approach that simply focusses on the cooperative sharing of experiences and focusses on connectedness, engagement, and involvement with the other research participants within the cultural world view/discursive practice within which they function. This thesis seeks to identify what constitutes this engagement and what implications this has for promoting self determination/agency/voice in the research participants by examining concepts of participatory consciousness and connectedness within Māori discursive practice.

Whakawhanaungatanga (establishing relationships in a Māori context), is used metaphorically to give voice to a culturally positioned means of collaboratively constructing research stories in a ‘culturally conscious and connected manner’. The thesis explains that there are three major overlapping implications of whakawhanaungatanga as a research strategy. The first is that establishing and maintaining relationships is a fundamental, often extensive and ongoing part of the research process. This involves the establishment of ‘whanau of interest’ through a process of ‘spiral dicourse’. The second is that researchers understand themselves to be involved somatically in the research process; that is physically, ethically, morally and spiritually and not just as a ‘researcher’ concerned with methodology. Such positionings are demonstrated in the language/metaphor used by the researchers in the stories described in this thesis. The third is that establishing relationships in a Māori context addresses the power and control issues fundamental to research, because it involves participatory research practices, in this context, termed ‘Participant Driven research’.

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