Te Ropu Rangahau Tikanga Rua:The Establishment of a Bicultural Research Group, under the Control of Maori People for the Benefit of Maori People
Issue 2:1992 (Published 1993)
Serious concerns about research involving Maori people have been raised by Walker (1979), Curtis (1983), Stokes (1985, 1987), Smith (1991) and Bishop and Glynn (1992). These authors caution that research into Maori people and issues associated with Maoridom should not perpetuate the monocultural research methodology and findings so common in the literature. One of their major concerns is that much research has concentrated on identifying characteristics that cause sub-cultural group members to function unsuccessfully in the common culture. Also, a great deal of research into Maori people’s affairs has had belittling or disadvantaging effects. Much of the research has been designed to answer research questions that have benefited the researchers and the non-Maori academic community rather than the Maori people themselves. Many research activities by non-Maori have disadvantaged and even belittled the mana of Maori knowledge and understanding of their own history. Maori people have become increasingly concerned about the capture of their past by others, and the manipulation of this knowledge both to enhance the life chances of others and to belittle the life chances of Maori people. Fundamental to this concern is the question of who has control of the knowledge? Whose purpose does research fulfill? Maori people resent being dissected with the same model as used by natural scientists. In this model all natural things can be seen as elements, as objects of study from some neutral stance outside of the people themselves. This neutral stance is being seriously questioned by Kaumatua and Maori people in general. This neutrality is now seen as another myth, created by those in positions of authority to perpetuate their own interests.
The compartmentalisation that is part of the application of the dissection model to the lives of Maori people has involved reification or the removal of elements from their sense-making context. This has not only had belittling effects but has also helped to destroy historical memory. Giroux and Friere in Livingstone (1987) submit that:
... forgetting instances of human suffering and the dynamics of human struggle not only rendered existing forms of domination natural and acceptable but also made it more difficult for those who were victimised by such oppression to develop an ontological basis for challenging the ideological and political conditions that produced such suffering (p. xv).
There is now developing an ontological basis for challenging the dominance. It has been characterised by Maori groups refusing to be part of research projects unless the kaupapa has been Maori initiated and controlled and has seen the rise of a Maori controlled interactive research. Bishop and Glynn (1992) after (Giroux 1983, and Carr & Kemmis, 1986) suggest that irrespective of particular research strategies, researchers who are committed to a Maori kaupapa need to see their role as empowering. This can be supported by establishing systems of power-sharing within the research process...