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On using kaupapa

April 8, 2012

“Maori use the word kaupapa in various ways. It is the term for purpose, agenda, intention, reason. At a deeper level it is the basis, the platform, the standpoint, the assured philosophy. And beyond that it is the medium through which wairua is made manifest, emerges in action in the palpable world. To be true one must find one’s kaupapa.” – James Ritchie in Becoming Bicultural (204), quoted p6 Pistacchi (2009)

Pistacchi opens her chapter on methodology with this quote. In this chapter she explains the process she went through “to find the theoretical and methodological kaupapa that enabled me to read these texts within an indigenous framework.” It is a chapter worth reading!

For example, she notes that it is “crucial to identify acts of cultural literary survivance in Maori fiction in those aspects of the literature that look forward – into te ao marama, the world of light – instead of those that look only backwards in response to a colonial past. This image of te ao marama is one that lies at the heart of my definition of Maori literary survivance. It is one that points to a future that exists in connection and relationship to the past and that incorporates the concept that ‘in the acquisition of knowledge, one progresses from a condition of ignorance or darkness to enlightenment (Ao Marama)'” (11-12) ” The connection between images of te ao marama and Maori literature,” Pistacchi goes on to say, “is one that has been long established by author and editor Witi Ihimaera who titled his 1982 anthology of Maori writing Into the World of Light, and his 1990s six-volume anthology series Te Ao Marama: Contemporary Maori Writing.” (12)

Pistacchi spent “many hours talking with and interviewing the authors of [her] study” and tried “at all times to be mindful of their stories and their knowledge in the assessment of their work. This attempt to respectfully incorporate the author’s views means that much of the methodology utilized in this study grows out of the communication that took place with the authors during personal interviews with them. If an author self-identified as a feminist, for example, or a postcolonialist, or a postmodernist, these frameworks were investigated as (possible) conceptual lenses through which to view her texts. In approaching literary analysis in this way,” she explains, “I seek to move scholarship on Maori women’s fiction ‘not in a self-consciously academic pattern of theorizing, with its limitations and attempts at recolonization, but in directions initiated by the writings themselves’ (Gadsby 14)” (19)

Elsewhere, she explains her decision “to read passages in Grace, Morris, and Morey’s texts from multiple theoretical perspectives.” (21) The chapters of her thesis, she continues, “therefore frequently reference Western literary theory (or possible Western readings of a particular passage) before moving on to focus on specifically indigenous/Maori readings of the authors’ texts.” (21)


Ref: (blue bold emphasis mineAnn Katherine Pistacchi (2009) Spiralling Subversions: The Politics of Maori Cultural Survivance in the Recent Critical Fictions of Patricia Grace, Paula Morris, and Kelly Ana Morey. PhD thesis, University of Auckland: Auckland. [FREELY AVAILABLE ONLINE]

Again, NOTE that I can’t do macrons on this computer… Maori and Marama are lacking them!

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