ACSPRI Conferences, RC33 Eighth International Conference on Social Science Methodology

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Genograms and Ecomaps For Research With Maori Collectives

Vivienne Kennedy

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


Kaupapa Māori is an indigenous way of doing research that utilises, validates and normalises Māori ways of knowing, doing and being. It is a way in which Māori can express what it is we do, think and feel and why, within a traditional research framework whilst also expressing a contemporary response to, and critique of dominant research paradigms that have supported and often provided the rationale for the colonial agenda within New Zealand.

Often research on whānau (Māori family/families) in the dominant research paradigms constructs an understanding of whānau from the combined data of individual members or from information provided by key informants that are based on the aggregate of individuals within a household. This information does not take into account the diversity of whānau collectives, which often extend beyond a household.

Genograms and ecomaps are tools typically used by therapy-based workers with a view to planning and intervention. The information is captured to depict and assess a variety of information about people such as age, gender, health status, etc., as well as their relationships with others, recurring patterns, and influences and impacts of their ecological environment such as friends, family, community and society. This paper explores the application of these western tools within a Kaupapa Māori research paradigm, with a view to conducting research with Māori families as collectives no matter their context, rather than as a household of individuals.

Pre-testing of these tools occurred with whānau, which involved the development of genograms and ecomaps in collaboration with whānau to gain multiple perspectives, support and buy-in of others, and to build rapport. Both tools provide visual representations and involve story telling to provide context, encourage debate and discussion, and to ensure validation and affirmation of information that has been shared. The tools and development processes were productive because they a) depicted the connectedness of whānau no matter the context; b) portrayed the realities of whānau; c) are compatible with a Kaupapa Māori approach to research with whānau; and d) ensured whānau involvement in the process, thereby gaining a collective understanding of whānau needs, issues and aspirations.

The value of the application of such research methods is to inform and represent the lives and realities of whānau collectives to researchers, evaluators, service providers, government agencies, and whānau with a view to enhancing policy formation to support and facilitate whānau health and wellbeing.