Researching with Whānau Collectives

Research methods to capture whānau realities

Researchers: Dr Fiona Cram & Ms Vivienne Kennedy

Funder: Health Research Council of New Zealand Partnership Programme

Timeframe: May 2009 - June 2010

Research summary

Often research on Māori collectives such as whānau (family) constructs an understanding of that collective from the combined data of individual members. For example whānau members might be considered related individuals who live in the same household, with their individual characteristics adding up to a representation of ‘whānau’. This research worked collaboratively with stakeholders (including policy writers, researchers and whānau) to search out research methods that more fully capture the fullness and interconnectedness of collectives. These methods were examined for their credibility and possible use within Kaupapa Māori (by Māori, for Māori) research on whānau, as well as their potential to contribute to policy related to whānau well-being and aspirations. The resulting account of research methods will inform researchers, evaluators, government agencies and whānau themselves about ways in which the lives and realities of whānau might be well-represented by research and, in turn, in whānau-related policy.

Research reporting

  • March 2011. A hard copy version of this special issue of MAI Review was launched
  • at the Fale, The University of Auckland, by the lovely folk at Nga Pae o te Māramatanga. Professor Linda Tuhiwai Smith was the guest speaker. Professor Smith spoke about her own whānau reunion in the new year and about how complex and interesting whānau is.
  • December 2010. The MAI Review journal containing the 'Researching with Whānau Collectives' papers is NOW LIVE.
  • July 2010. The final draft research report was submitted to the Health Research Council and the Ministry of Health. This report contained the following chapters:
    • Researching with whānau collectives – Fiona Cram and Vivienne Kennedy
    • Ethics of researching with whānau collectives – Vivienne Kennedy and Fiona Cram
    • Appreciative inquiry – Fiona Cram
    • Genograms – Vivienne Kennedy
    • Eco-maps – Vivienne Kennedy
    • Te whakapapa o te reo i roto i te whānau – Kirimatao Paipa
    • The PATH Planning Tool and its potential for whānau research – Kataraina Pipi
    • Ma te whānau te huarahi motuhake: Whānau participatory action research groups – Moana Eruera
    • Participative action research: Consensus cardsort – Whānau future narrative – Denis O’Reilly
    • Whānau Tuatahi: Māori community partnership research using a Kaupapa Māori methodology - Bernadette Jones, Tristram R. Ingham, Cheryl Davies, Fiona Cram
    • Social Network Analysis and research with Māori collectives – Vivienne Kennedy
    • He kōrero whānau o Te Rarawa - Wendy Henwood, Jasmine Pirini, Aroha Harris
  • In June & July 2010 there was another round of stakeholder hui to present back the findings from this project. We discussed issues related to researching with whānau, including research ethics, and presenting the research methods that have been contributed to the project (including Appreciative Inquiry, Genomaps, Participatory Action Research). The powerpoint presentation given at these hui is downloadable below ('WhanauCollectivesOverview').
  • Five stakeholder hui (meetings) were held in the first four months of the project to let people know what the research was about and to get their feedback on the issues that we need to take into consideration. 
    Overall people were interested in the idea of the research while at the same time being very cautious about research agendas generally and how they might assist or hinder whānau and Māori aspirations. Key points from these hui included the importance of:

    • Who is the ‘we’ that wants to measure whānau? It’s important that we know who and what the research is for, and why they want data about whānau; including whether the ‘measure’ is about some standard against which whānau will be compared.
    • The dynamics of whānau change all the time in terms of: leadership, succession planning, tane/wahine roles, ‘standards’. We need to reflect on the strengths of whānau and plan for the future.
    • Any measurement has to be driven by Māori concepts, be strengths-based, and have a systems analysis. It also needs to ensure that integrity and respect are accorded to whānau.
    • Having the right words and asking the right questions is important. The starting point is whānau, for Māori this is the world. The collective is about our whakapapa.
    • The need to protect Māori concepts, and protect whānau. So there are issues around the interpretation of information; issues about consent.

Researcher involvement

Over the course of this project we asked researchers who are using methods or tools in their research (or other work) with whānau to contribute their knowledge and expertise.
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Fiona Cram,
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Cram10.pdf
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Pipi10.pdf
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