Kaupapa Māori

Incorporating the knowledge, skills and values of Māori society into research.

If we think about research as a critical process for asking and attempting to answer questions about the world, then all sorts of people can be researchers, not just scientists. Those different groups may consider different things important when asking and answering questions about the world. Kaupapa Māori Research refers to an approach, framework or methodology for thinking about and undertaking research. It is research by Māori, for Māori and with Māori and is an approach that validates Māori cultural values, beliefs, knowledge and worldviews.

Kaupapa Māori provides a culturally safe space to conduct research where:

Principles of Kaupapa Māori relevant to research

  1. Tino Rangatiratanga: The Principle of Self-determination. Tino Rangatiratanga relates to sovereignty, autonomy, control, self-determination and independence. The notion of Tino Rangatiratanga is relevant in the research process in terms of allowing Māori to shape their own research goals and processes.

  2. Taonga Tuku Iho: The Principle of Cultural Aspiration. Within a kaupapa Māori paradigm, te reo Māori, tīkanga and mātauranga Māori (Māori ways of knowing, doing and understanding the world) are both valid and relevant.

  3. Ako Māori: The Principle of Culturally Preferred Pedagogy. This principle acknowledges teaching and learning practices that are inherent and unique to Māori, as well as practices that may not be traditionally derived but are preferred by Māori.

  4. Kia piki ake i ngā raruraru o te kainga: The Principle of Socio-Economic Mediation. This principle asserts a need for Kaupapa Māori research to be of positive benefit to Māori communities. It also acknowledges the relevance and success that Māori derived initiatives have as intervention systems for addressing socio-economic issues that currently exist.

  5. Whānau: The Principle of Extended Family Structure. The principle of Whānau sits at the core of Kaupapa Māori. It acknowledges the relationships that Māori have to one another and to the world around them. This principle acknowledges the responsibility and obligations of the researcher to nurture and care for these relationships and also the intrinsic connection between the researcher, the researched and the research.

  6. Kaupapa: The Principle of Collective Philosophy. The 'Kaupapa' refers to the collective vision, aspiration and purpose of Māori communities. Larger than the topic of the research alone, the kaupapa refers to the aspirations of the community. The research topic or intervention systems therefore are considered to be only a part of the overall 'kaupapa'.

  7. Te Tiriti o Waitangi: The Principle of the Treaty of Waitangi. Te Tiriti o Waitangi (1840) is a crucial document which defines the relationship between Māori and the Crown in New Zealand. It affirms both the tangata whenua status of whānau, hapū and iwi in New Zealand, and their rights of citizenship. The Tiriti therefore provides a basis through which Māori may critically analyse relationships, challenge the status-quo, and affirm Māori rights.

  8. Āta: The Principle of Growing Respectful Relationships. The principle of āta relates specifically to the building and nurturing of relationships. It acts as a guide to the understanding of relationships and wellbeing when engaging with Māori. Āta focuses on our relationships, negotiating boundaries, working to create and hold safe space with corresponding behaviours. Āta gently reminds people how to behave when engaging in relationships with people, kaupapa and environments.

More information

Most of this information comes from the Kaupapa Maori and Rangahau website is dedicated to a discussion of issues related to Kaupapa Māori.

Smith, G. H. (1990) Research Issues Related to Māori Education’, paper presented to NZARE Special Interest Conference, Massey University, reprinted in 1992, The Issue of Research and Māori, Research Unit for Māori Education, The University of Auckland.

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