Te Kāhui Kura Māori, Volume 0, Issue 2
The Victoria University of Wellington Te Kawa a Māui course MAOR408 Tā Te Māori Rangahau / Methodologies of Māori Research has had a profound impact on my research. Indeed it has had a substantial impact on the way I view academia generally. Ideas of reflexivity, postcolonial and postmodern deconstructions of positivist objectification have been gaining ground in academia for some time now, however, it has only been through studying indigenous critiques and methodologies that I have felt the full force of the damage done to communities through research. This in itself could have been immobilizing. In the past, an awareness of postcolonial critique has at best served to problematise my work, making me anxious about my role as a researcher – what Tolich has called “Pākehā paralysis” (2002). However, MAOR408 has offered the first real guidance at working through this - confronting and questioning my influences, intentions and attitudes and moving forward. It is hugely inspiring and liberating to discover methodologies that offer a way out of “paralysis” into something empowering for the subjects of research and researchers alike.
Peggy McIntosh has identified it is a distinct feature of white privilege that “I can choose to ignore developments in minority writing and minority activist programs” (McIntosh 1990:5), furthermore, as Pākehā we are usually encouraged to do so. I think it is crucially important to resist that privilege and engage with Māori scholarship. This material not only opens my eyes to the struggles of indigenous academics (and communities) and makes me appreciate their criticism of mainstream academia, but also allows me to learn from innovative indigenous research methodologies. These methodologies, while often specific to Māori community situations, tend to place an importance on people and relationship building in ways that should be recognised by any qualitative researcher.