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Critical Conversations in Kaupapa Māori

Critical Conversations in Kaupapa Māori

Автором Huia Publishers

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Critical Conversations in Kaupapa Māori

Автором Huia Publishers

344 pages
4 hours
Sep 1, 2017


Kaupapa Māori theory and methodology developed over twenty years ago and have since become influential in social research, practice and policy areas. This collection furthers knowledge about kaupapa Māori by examining its effects over the decades, identifying and discussing its conventions and boundaries and reflecting on kaupapa Māori in social and educational research and practice. The collection contains chapters by Brad Coombes, Garrick Cooper, Mason Durie, Carl Mika, Te Ahukaramū Charles Royal, Graham Hingangaroa Smith, Linda Tuhiwai Smith, Alice Te Punga Somerville, Georgina Stewart and Tamasailau Suaalii-Sauni, along with the collection editors. This collection of short stories explores connections between extremes of heat and cold. Sometimes this is spatial or geographical; sometimes it is metaphorical. Sometimes it involves juxtapositions of time; sometimes heat appears where only ice is expected.

In the stories, a woman is caught between traditional Fijian ways and the brutality of the military dictatorship; a glaciology researcher falls into a crevasse and confronts the unexpected; two women lose children in freak shooting accidents; a young child in a Barbie Doll sweatshop dreams of a different life; secondary school girls struggle with secrets about an addicted janitor; and two women take a deathly trip through a glacier melt stream. These are some of the unpredictable stories in this collection that follow themes of ice and glaciers in the heat of the South Pacific and take us into unusual lives and explorations.

Sep 1, 2017

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Critical Conversations in Kaupapa Māori - Huia Publishers


Kupu Whakataki

Engā mana, e ngā reo, e ngā karangatanga maha, te iti me te rāhi, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa. Whiria te kaha tūātinitini, whiria te kaha tūāmanomano.

Tēnā hoki tātou i ō tātou mate tūātini, rātou huhua e takoto tīraha nei i runga i ō tātou marae, i ō tātou papakāinga hoki. Kia tangihia, kia mihia rātou, nā reira, moe mai koutou tē whakaarahia. Koutou te hunga mate ki a koutou, tātou te hunga ora ki a tātou, tihē mauri ora.

E rua tekau mā rima tau ki muri i whakaahuatia e Graham Hingangaroa Smith me ētahi atu, ngā mātāpono e kīia nei ko ‘Kaupapa Māori’. Ko ētahi o ngā kaiwhakairo me ngā kaikōkiri o tēnei kaupapa, pērā i a Tuakana Nepe, kua ngaro i te tirohanga kanohi. Ahakoa tō rātou wehenga atu i te ao kikokiko nei, e kore rawa ā rātou mahi e warewaretia e tātou ngā kaikawe o te kaupapa i tēnei wā.

E kī ana tētahi kōrero, ‘ki te kore tētahi kaupapa e ngau tuarātia, kāhore ōna take’.

Ko tā ngā tuhinga kei tēnei pukapuka he wānanga, he whakaaroaro hoki, i te oranga me te pakari o te ariā o Kaupapa Māori i tēnei wā. E tirohia ana te pāpātanga o Kaupapa Māori i te ao mātauranga mai i tōna tīmatanga, ā, mohoa noa nei. E wetekina ana hoki ētahi o ngā whakaaro kua noho roa hei tūāpapa mō Kaupapa Māori. Kei te matapaetia hoki e ētahi ngā ara ka takahia pea e Kaupapa Māori ā ngā tau e heke mai nei.

Ahakoa tō whakaae, kore whakaae rānei, ki ētahi o ngā kōrero kei roto i tēnei tuhinga, e whakapaetia ana ka whakaohoohotia te hinengaro o te kaipānui kia whakaaro hōhonutia a Kaupapa Māori.

Hēmi Dale

Ngāti Kurī, Te Rarawa, Te Aupouri


Critical Conversations

Te Kawehau Hoskins and Alison Jones

The term ‘Kaupapa Māori’ now appears routinely in the work of researchers in the field of Māori and indigenous studies. In fact, the language of Kaupapa Māori has become so influential in a range of social policy and practice sites in Aotearoa New Zealand, from architecture to law to public health, that it has become almost an orthodoxy when Māori are involved in research and debate. A significant literature, mostly in education, has outlined the principles of Kaupapa Māori as methodological and theoretical guides to research and practice. The principles are both political and cultural, carving out a common discursive space, particularly for Māori researchers and social practitioners, to legitimately mobilise Māori concepts and practices.

This edited collection, Critical Conversations in Kaupapa Māori, continues to open out this space created over twenty years ago by Graham Hingangaroa Smith’s (and others’) development of Kaupapa Māori theory (see chapter 6, this volume). The authors in this collection agree that, given the outstanding successes of Kaupapa Māori, the time is right to pause and examine its effects, to critically identify and discuss its conventions and boundaries, and to do this positively in order to invigorate engagement and extend its productive possibilities.

One of our motivations for developing the collection came from discussions with our students. As teachers and supervisors in the field of Māori education, we are both engaged with the development of Kaupapa Māori in educational discourse and, as researchers, we engage with it in scholarship and in community practice. Working with Kaupapa Māori ideas two decades after their initial appearance in the academy, our students increasingly seek to explore the potential of the ideas and to expand their possibilities for thought and practice. Our students are hungry for new ways to engage Kaupapa Māori, as well as to critique what they sometimes see as its limiting assumptions. As teachers of Māori students, we are keen to encourage their critical scholarship in ways that continue to make the impact that Kaupapa Māori hopes for. So this book does not simply restate key Kaupapa Māori messages but provides a collection of articles that reflect both positively and critically on Kaupapa Māori theory and methodology as it is played out in social and educational research and practice.

Self-critique of course has its risks, and has, understandably, not always been popular. As Graham Smith explains in this volume and elsewhere, Kaupapa Māori theory was initially motivated to carve out spaces in the discourses and practices of the academy as well as to provide a political critique of western academic orthodoxies. Kaupapa Māori scholarship has had to grow and defend its space against the powerful assumptions and traditions of the western academy, which still often remains suspicious towards (although, mostly, usually ignorant about) Māori critique. Therefore, Kaupapa Māori has had an ambivalent relationship with self-critique, with a tendency to reassert existing principles rather than engage in any hard self-analysis.

For the authors in this collection, opening Kaupapa Māori to responsible critical reflection, as we attempt to do here, is a risk worth taking. Indeed, we maintain it is a necessary risk in the strengthening and maturing of Kaupapa Māori theory and practice. So, in recognition of over two decades of Kaupapa Māori discourse, we ask some of the questions that have been difficult to ask.

One of those questions has been about collaboration with non-Māori. Given the strong ‘by Māori, for Māori’ assertion of much Kaupapa Māori scholarship, we are aware that the editorial collaboration between a Māori and Pākehā scholar on a book about Kaupapa Māori might raise some eyebrows. Certainly, there is active opposition to any such collaboration in the more conservative sectors of Kaupapa Māori. But, as many of our contributors suggest, a confident and assertive Kaupapa Māori project led by Māori scholars can be open to a range of engagements. A conscious and careful working relationship with non-indigenous others (including non-human others!) is not ruled out by a vigorous Kaupapa Māori that has, can, and will influence thinking and practice in Aotearoa New Zealand, and elsewhere.

The chapters

Our initial foray into critical engagement in/with Kaupapa Māori theory occurred in the 2012 special issue of the New Zealand Journal of Educational Studies Te Hautaki Mātai Mātauranga o Aotearoa titled ‘He aha te Kaupapa? Critical Conversations in Kaupapa Māori’. The response to that special issue was overwhelmingly positive and we were many times asked by our students and colleagues to develop the collection as a book. We have, in fact, reprinted only two articles from the NZJES special issue: the chapters by Alison Jones and Charles Royal are reproduced here with permission. We encourage interested readers to consult the special issue for further articles. Linda Tuhiwai Smith and Zed Books kindly agreed to allow us to reprint chapter 10 from Linda’s best-selling Decolonizing Methodologies (second edition, 2012). All the other chapters were written specially for this edited collection. Each author is well established in her or his own field (education, literary studies, health policy, environment, Māori Studies, Pasifika Studies, philosophy); each shows how we can critically reflect on the theoretical and methodological underpinnings of our research and writing, both in order to strengthen that work, and to expand the radical impact of Kaupapa Māori theory on Aotearoa New Zealand research, thought and practice.

The collection

The collection opens with a strong statement by Sir Mason Durie about the scope of Kaupapa Māori and its significant, ongoing impact on many sectors of Aotearoa New Zealand society. For anyone wanting a succinct introduction to the effects of, and possibilities for, Kaupapa Māori, this chapter is a wonderful place to begin. Well-known scholar Linda Tuhiwai Smith’s chapter, too, provides a summary of the need for, and origins of, Kaupapa Māori. The question ‘what happens to research when the researched become the researchers?’ allows her to lay out the early radical aims of Kaupapa Māori research. Again, this is an excellent introductory account – and it clarifies some methodological questions with which Kaupapa Māori researchers grapple. Brad Coombes also takes up the question of methodology in his chapter on participatory research with Māori communities. He is critical of the tendency in Kaupapa Māori research to default to expert-led critical debate as a method in community collaborations; for him, community participation means far more radical and risky control by communities themselves as they determine their own futures. On the question of methodology, Hoskins and Jones are provoked by developments in post-humanism to open up possibilities for what counts as research in Māori contexts. By foregrounding a Māori relational approach to the real world, they consult a material object (a moko signature on paper) to ‘hear what it has to say’. Alice Te Punga Somerville’s chapter beautifully illustrates a literary approach to text; her self-revealing narrative is, as she puts it, a ‘loving critique’ of Kaupapa Māori.

Graham Hingangaroa Smith’s chapter on Kaupapa Māori theory provides a great summary of what are understood as Kaupapa Māori principles and their founding logic. This chapter updates his well-known 2003 conference paper (Smith, 2003) that outlines the idea of praxis and indicates the centrality of critical theory to a Kaupapa Māori analysis. Te Kawehau Hoskins takes up the question of critical theory’s role in Kaupapa Māori, arguing that the orthodoxies of critical theory – which have been so powerfully important to the development of Kaupapa Māori – may now also be strangling its growth. Charles Royal suggests that mātauranga Māori and Kaupapa Māori – as knowledge and politics – have much to gain from each other for contemporary thinking. Carl Mika’s provocation is to liberate Kaupapa Māori from a fixation on certainty in favour of embracing mystery in our theoretical and research work. Georgina Stewart discusses how a more open approach to Kaupapa Māori principles can assist the kura sector with self-critique. Garrick Cooper asks what might be learned from the earliest Māori engagements with western knowledge, including the encounter with the Bible, for today’s Kaupapa Māori encounters with science.

Tamasailau Suaalii-Sauni considers the relationship between Kaupapa Māori and Samoan/Pasifika thought. She suggests that the ‘va’, or relational space, between these two indigenous forms be more actively nurtured and debated. Finally, Alison Jones proposes possibilities for Māori–Pākehā partnerships that contribute to the aspirations of Kaupapa Māori. Such possibilities exist, she argues, where Pākehā develop characteristics of engagement that go against the grain of their need for control.

Ongoing discussions

Important debates will take place among us as we take Kaupapa Māori into the next two decades as a living, confident set of ideas that can respond to the urgent questions confronting Māori in scholarship and practice. In the interests of a robust future for Kaupapa Māori, and given Kaupapa Māori has been a powerful tool for providing theoretical space within which Māori and indigenous meaning and theorisation can be developed, we ask the following questions: To what extent has its radical vision been ‘mainstreamed’ or domesticated? Has it become a catch-all idea with little definition and therefore little radical impact in practice? To what extent have the assumptions of Kaupapa Māori been subject to theoretical self-reflexivity? To what extent is it possible, or desirable, to develop Kaupapa Māori theorisation from an ‘indigenous space’ outside of, or free from, western theoretical debates and developments? Does Kaupapa Māori reflect an impossible ideal within the existing public education systems that are, after all, embedded in European cultural models of time, space, place, hierarchy, relationships, leadership, knowledge, and language? How significant are the roots of Kaupapa Māori in critical theory? What are the implications of this base in critical theory for the transformative aims of Kaupapa Māori?

This collection begins to address these questions. We sincerely hope the difficult and enlivening debates continue among us.

Editorial note

We have used a capital ‘k’ for Kaupapa Māori, recognising that our focus for discussion (Kaupapa Māori) is an established theoretical framework, a set of methodological guidelines and a field of study.

Te Kawehau Hoskins and Alison Jones, March 2017


We wish to thank Hēmi Dale, Sue Osborne, Tony Trinick, Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga, and Te Whare Kura (The University of Auckland) for their generous assistance and support. In particular, we thank all the contributors for their engagement. We acknowledge the editorial board of the New Zealand Journal of Educational Studies Te Hautaki Mātai Mātauranga o Aotearoa (NZJES) – the journal of the New Zealand Association for Research in Education for their support of the original project.

He mihi maioha ki a koutou katoa.


Smith, G. H. (2003). ‘Kaupapa Māori theory: Theorizing Indigenous Transformation of Education and Schooling’. Paper presented at the AARE/NZARE, Auckland, New Zealand. http://www.aare.edu.au/data/publications/2003/pih03342.pdf

Smith, L. T. (2012). Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Zed Books.


Kaupapa Māori: Indigenising New Zealand

Mason Durie

Sir Mason Durie is an Emeritus Professor of Massey University and has held previous positions as Professor of Māori Studies, Professor of Māori Research and Development, Assistant Vice Chancellor (Māori and Pasifika), Deputy Vice Chancellor, and Director of Psychiatry at Palmerston North Hospital. In this discussion, he reflects on the remarkable influence of Kaupapa Māori on New Zealand society. He was originally interviewed by Te Kawehau Hoskins on 12 December 2011. That interview was edited by Te Kawehau Hoskins and Alison Jones, and published in the New Zealand Journal of Educational Studies Te Hautaki Mātai Mātauranga o Aotearoa, 47, 2, 2012. This is a revised version of the previous interview, edited and updated by Sir Mason for this book.

The emergence of Kaupapa Māori

What is Kaupapa Māori, and how did it emerge?

Kaupapa Māori has been an inspirational movement that has contributed to a re-think of academic convention and workplace practices. The opportunity to use Māori knowledge and approaches to learning are significantly different from the relatively narrow frameworks employed twenty-five or so years ago, largely because of the Kaupapa Māori framework (broadly defined) across a wide range of sectors. In effect, Kaupapa Māori has laid the foundations for significant transformations.

The context in which Kaupapa Māori emerged is important. Kaupapa Māori was part of a shift in thinking about the position of Māori in New Zealand society during the 1980s. The shift was evident in the Treaty of Waitangi reports and statutes that emerged at the time. The Waitangi Tribunal had a major role to play and so did the 1984 Labour government, which began to introduce the Treaty into legislation. There was recognition of a (Treaty) dimension in the environment and in health and education services, which had not been seriously acknowledged. The Treaty of Waitangi was also the basis for endorsing the Māori language as an official language by advocates including Ngā Tama Toa and others who laid the foundations for change. During the 1980s, Māori social and economic initiatives like Mana Enterprises, Mātua Whāngai and Rapuora¹ all emerged as ‘game-changers’ in a relatively monocultural society. Māori concerns about their place in society was also a not-unexpected response to urbanisation and the associated pitfalls. In that respect, the emergence of Kaupapa Māori was not a surprising development. It had emerged within the wider context of Māori rejuvenation. All these developments made a similar point: achieving best outcomes for Māori across a range of endeavours needs to take account of a Māori worldview. Previously, that realisation had not been a widely accepted starting point.

At the beginning of the Māori renaissance (the late 1970s and early 1980s), the approach taken by Māori was twofold. One was a ‘get on with it, let’s move ahead’ pragmatism that, later, in the 1984 Hui Taumata, was systematised as ‘Māori development’. The other approach was built around a political ideology that involved a critique of colonialism and was linked to a sense of dislocation and impoverishment. That ideology was relevant for its time but became less dominant as people learned that a Māori way of doing things was not only about overcoming adversity but was also about thriving as Māori. The question of how to achieve the best possible outcomes for Māori (given the wider environment) has probably taken precedence over the sense of political marginalisation, discontent, and dislocation. If Kaupapa Māori was driven only by a political ideology and critique not linked to opportunities for the future, then it may have had less credibility.

Since its inception, Kaupapa Māori has contained many meanings and, like any term, people attach their own interpretation to it. Sometimes, it is seen to be about the Māori language. But at other times, Kaupapa Māori is more about broader cultural expression, values, and ethics. In the health sector, it has been used to reflect an approach to clinical practice that recognises Māori perspectives. Sometimes, particularly in education, it is about pedagogy – the way that people are taught and the practice of teaching. Kaupapa Māori also has application in law. Māori lawyers use the phrase Kaupapa Māori when they are considering the development of a Māori jurisprudence. So in different contexts, Kaupapa Māori has different meanings. This wide range of meanings is both helpful and unhelpful. It is helpful because it is an umbrella term that, at its simplest, means a Māori way of doing things. It is less helpful when it is used as a universal approach to all situations.

Shifting social policy

How has the ‘get on with it’ approach had an impact on social practice?

A major national health hui, the Hui Whakaoranga, was held in 1984 at the Hoani Waititi Marae. In his opening speech, the Minister of Māori Affairs was skeptical about a uniquely Māori approach to health: ‘Let’s face it, there’s no such thing as Māori health or Pākehā health. There’s only one form of health because all of us have similar bodies, experience similar diseases, and go through similar life cycles.’ By the end of the hui, that view had been rejected in favour of a conclusion that culture was always an ingredient of health and different cultures had quite different understandings of health.

Government also seemed to be moving away from a uni-cultural perspective, at least as it applied to social policy. In the terms of reference for the Royal Commission on Social Policy in 1986, there was reference to the Treaty of Waitangi and the place that Māori have in New Zealand society, and the Rangihau report Pūao-te-ata-tū (1988) similarly concluded that culture was an important element for the welfare of young people. The report, investigating the Department of Social Welfare’s policies and practices in respect of young Māori, was another signal that a universal approach to human endeavours was not particularly helpful. It had, however, been the approach up until then.

Since the mid-1980s, there has been a major shift in both policy and practice that has touched a whole range of sectors, disciplines, and practices. Although most Māori do not attend Kaupapa Māori schools any more than most Māori utilise Kaupapa Māori health services, the concepts of Kaupapa Māori have nonetheless taken root in conventional services and schools. While they are sometimes applied in a shallow way, or offered as a token of goodwill, the wider observation has been that services have utilised Kaupapa Māori in positive ways that have led to better outcomes. In addition, some programmes in schools and in communities have been built largely around Kaupapa Māori.

Whānau Ora², for example, has developed approaches to health and social services based on Māori understandings of family and well-being. It is premised on Māori worldviews and adopts an integrated approach to family development rather than a sectoral emphasis. The integration occurs at several levels: individuals with family, younger generations with older generations, physical health with mental health, and well-being with natural and built environments. Māori television also utilises Māori perspectives, concepts, and idioms as foundations for broadcasting and programming.

While there is some criticism that a Māori-centred approach has generated a divided society, others would argue that it has not gone far enough. Neither contention makes sense unless it is accompanied by evidence that the approach has – or has not – made a difference to Māori lives. Divisive societies are generated by inequities and inequalities – the reverse of the Māori-centred philosophies that focus more on achieving the best possible outcomes and reductions in existing inequities. The main point is not simply creating a world that excludes others but creating a world where people can have a greater sense of fairness without sacrificing identity.

Kaupapa Māori and mātauranga Māori

How do you understand the relationship between Kaupapa Māori and mātauranga Māori?

Kaupapa Māori is an approach to learning, teaching, healing, researching, parenting, and caring. Mātauranga Māori is an always-evolving, underlying body of knowledge that can guide practice and understanding.

Often, Māori knowledge is seen as ancient, trapped in a time warp, static, and scarcely relevant to modern times. But like other bodies of knowledge such as science, mātauranga Māori is an evolving knowledge base. Students of mātauranga Māori should develop an awareness that knowledge is always changing. While the values underpinning the knowledge base might be derived from ancient learnings, knowledge nonetheless changes. If it were static, it would have diminished relevance for today. Equating mātauranga Māori with an unchanging set of concepts and hypotheses overlooks the dynamic nature of mātauranga Māori. In ancient times, mātauranga Māori was, of necessity, an evolving form of knowledge that enabled people to survive and to live well in a changed environment – from sub-tropical living to coping with more temperate climates. Mātauranga evolved with the environmental shift and with the social development that subsequently occurred. Simply learning about ‘things Māori’ is not the same as being guided by an evolving knowledge system called mātauranga Māori.

A challenge for the exponents of Kaupapa Māori is to afford greater emphasis on mātauranga Māori as an evolving body of knowledge that is useful for contemporary realities and can be helpful for day-to-day living, rather than contextualising Māori knowledge as an unchanging system of knowledge that is learned rather than experienced. The relationship between kaupapa Māori and mātauranga Māori is not unlike the relationship between kawa and tikanga. Essentially, kaupapa Māori is a way of doing things whereas mātauranga Māori

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