ACSPRI Conferences, RC33 Eighth International Conference on Social Science Methodology

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Whanau Talk: Examining the implications of interconnectedness and relational epistemologies as frameworks within which to discuss an indigenous centred methodology on family communication in New Zealand.

Huia Tomlins Jahnke, annemarie Gillies, Ani Ruwhiu

Building: Law Building
Room: Breakout 9 - Law Building, Room 102
Date: 2012-07-10 01:30 PM – 03:00 PM
Last modified: 2011-12-22


The importance of communication to whānau ora (family health) is not well explored. By examining the conversational interactions of two whānau groupings; whakapapa whānau (kinship based families), represented by three families; and kaupapa whānau (activity based families) also represented by three families, our study contributes to a greater understanding of the way families interact and therefore connect with each other. Māori worldviews, knowledge claims and paradigms underpin the philosophical foundation of our study. Given that whanau interaction is related to whanau connectedness, it is likely that a range of communication styles and methods are important in generating and supporting whanau connectedness. Māori relational frameworks were utilised in the research design and methodology. Relationships and connectedness in a Māori frame operate in complex ways. In our study the principle of whakapapa (genealogy) operates on a number of levels, all of which have important implications for understanding how to work with kin-based groups in Māori society and the role of the researcher in that process. Access to whānau for recruitment and selection of participants was accomplished through whakapapa (genealogical)-links to the research team. In this instance it was a key factor in gaining access to the whakapapa whānau, and lending credibility to the research project as far as the participants and their families were concerned. Underpinning this perspective is the notion that whānau are more likely to hold their own family members to account rather than outsiders whose research is often seen to be exploitative, sensitive, or harmful to whānau. Rather than aspects of the principle of whakapapa being seen as a potential conflict of interest as would be the case in a western view of what is ethical, kinship remains a powerful determinant of accountability of researchers to the researched.