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A description of kaupapa Maori theory…

March 1, 2012

Carol Mutch addresses ‘research in a Maori context‘. She writes:

“Cram (2001, p.40) describes kaupapa Maori theory as “an attempt to retrieve space for Maori voices and perspectives … [that] opens up avenues for approaching and critiquing dominant, Western worldviews.” Kaupapa Maori theory presupposes that the legitimacy of Maori is taken for granted, that the survival and revival of Maori language is imperative, and that autonomy of Maori over Maori cultural wellbeing is vital.” (67-68)

Mutch continues: “My mentor in matters Maori is my friend and colleague Marge Wong (Ngati Kahungunu). She offers this advice: ‘Like those of other indigenous peoples, the Maori world view is based on values and experiences that have evolved over time. Understanding the Maori cultural values of manaakitanga (caring and supporting), kotahitanga (unity), whanaungatanga (familiness), wairuatanga (spirituality), tangatiratanga (leadership) and mana (prestige) ensures a friendly, trusting passage for the non-Maori researcher.’ (personal communication)

How this plays out in research methodology relates to the selection of the topic, the purpose of the research, access to the site and/or the participants, conducting the research, and concluding the research.

1. Selection of topic: The topic should be of interest, relevance, and benefit to Maori and should sit comfortably within Maori values.

2. Purpose of the research: The ultimate purpose should be to improve systems and situations for Maori in a way that enhances self-determination. Maori should retain the right of ownership of their cultural knowledge, including the right not to share some information with the researcher.

3. Access to site and participants: Access should be done through the correct channels (e.g., kaumatua) and using appropriate kawa (protocol). Local advice should be sought.

4. Conducting the research: A hui (meeting) process that begins with a powhiri or whakatau (welcome), where all parties establish their identities and purposes is important. Kanohi-te-kanohi (face-to-face) methodologies in whanau (family-like) settings are best.

5. Concluding the research: Feedback through a poroporoaki (concluding discussion) process and reciprocity on the part of the researcher are important concluding activities.” (68)

Ref: (emphases in bold blue, mine) Carol Mutch (2005) Doing Educational Research: A Practitioner’s Guide to Getting StartedNZCER Press: Wellington

Referring to: Cram, F.  (2001) Rangahau Maori: Tona tika, tona pono / The validity and integrity of Maori research. In Tolich, M (Ed), Research ethics in Aotearoa New Zealand (pp. 35-52). Auckland: Pearson Education.

NOTE: I can’t add the macrons on this computer – so Maori is quoted incorrectly…

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