ACSPRI Conferences, RC33 Eighth International Conference on Social Science Methodology

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A Kaupapa Maori Research Paradigm

Fiona Cram

Building: Law Building
Room: Breakout 9 - Law Building, Room 102
Date: 2012-07-10 03:30 PM – 05:00 PM
Last modified: 2011-12-22


A Kaupapa Māori (literally a Māori/Indigenous way) research paradigm allows us to acknowledge that the research we undertake as Māori (Indigenous New Zealanders) researchers has a different ontological and epistemological foundation than western-oriented research. The Māori world is whakapapa (genealogy), and it is through the process of whanaungatanga (relationships, kinships) that we know our world. Methodology is proscribed in cultural terms and makes both moral and cultural and moral sense.
Our accountability for our research is primarily to our relations and, as such, we engage in research that addresses real issues so as to inform and promote real solutions that will facilitate Māori wellness. We are concerned about the disparities experienced by Māori and want evidence-informed solutions to reduce them. At the same time, we want research that acknowledges our traditions, knowledge, expertise, values, triumphs and dreams.
A Kaupapa Māori research paradigm sees being Māori as normal, thereby avoiding a victim-blaming mentality and promoting a structural analysis. Our kaumatua (elders) often play a pivotal role in guiding us throughout all aspects of our research endeavors. In addition, the importance of whānau (Māori family groups) needs to be understood as whānau are the fundamental building block of our society. Once the kaupapa (agenda) of the research is tika (true) then the priority for researchers is to find the right methods and the right people.
The research methods we use are carefully vetted to ensure their goodness-of-fit with a Kaupapa Māori research paradigm. Many of the methods are suitable for researching with whānau, and take an affirming approach to the gathering of data from participants. These methods, both qualitative and quantitative enable participants to share their day-to-day realities and experiences. Data analysis and report writing is also undertaken with care and respect, so that both communities and policy writers can use the research findings to make evidence-informed decisions. In this way we seek a world that has room for a Māori worldview, alongside that of the newcomers to our country.