Working as a non-indigenous researcher with Kaupapa Maori methodology

18th October 2018 : 12:45 - 14:00

Category: Seminar

Research Group: Qualitative Methods Hub

Speaker: Professor Letitia Fickel (Canterbury University, New Zealand)

Location: Department of Education, Seminar Room B

Kaupapa Māori theory is premised on the contention that to hold alternative histories is to hold alternative knowledges, and thus asserts that a unique epistemological tradition gives shape to Māori worldviews and the solutions they seek to social and educational challenges (L. Smith, 1999, 2009). It serves as a critique of, and challenge to, the dominant discourse and hegemonic practices of Eurocentric ways of thinking that have predominated in traditional social science and educational research.

Bishop (2012) notes that Māori and other indigenous and minoritized peoples remain concerned that researcher’s own cultural agendas and interests remain dominate within research relationships, in terms of initiation, representation and accountability (Bishop, 2012). Based on the principle of tino rangatiratanga, the right to self-determination and autonomy (G. H. Smith, 1997), Kaupapa Māori’s main objective is to serve as a means of decolonizing indigenous values and cultural practices by ‘re-centering’ the research focus on their own concerns and worldviews.

How then does (can?) a non-indigenous researcher working in Aotearoa New Zealand engage with and contribute such a decolonizing research practice?  As an educationist concerned with issues of equity, this question has animated my work over the last decade. Guided by the ‘reflexivity of discomfort’ (Pillow, 2003), in this seminar I share some of the insights, challenges and wonderings gleaned from troubling this question. In this way, I seek to provide one researcher’s ongoing journey of ‘conscious participation within the cultural aspirations, preferences and sense-and-meaning-making processes of indigenous people’ (Bishop, 2012, pg 129) through my work with Māori colleagues and research participants.