Conference Presentations

Upholding sovereignty in Kaupapa Maori evaluation

Presentation by Fiona Cram at the 2015 American Evaluation Association Conference, 11-14 November, Chicago.


The core of Kaupapa Māori is the catch-cry: ‘to be Māori is normal’. Tied to this is the recognition that Māori worldviews, ways of knowing and mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge) are valid and legitimate. ‘Knowing’ is therefore sourced within our own values and beliefs. In addition, this knowing is positioned within a reflexive cycle of being willing to evolve, grow and update our knowing (Henry & Pene, 2001). Thus, our ancestors existed within a research culture whereby knowledge was updated ‘as part of ongoing information management practices’ (Reid 1999, p. 61). We are therefore not limited to merely responding to mainstream constructions of us, we can facilitate the revitalisation of traditional constructions as well as the formation of new constructions of what it means to be Māori within Aotearoa. This panelist will share examples of how evaluation grounded in Kaupapa Māori promotes sovereignty of Māori people and communities. Available on request

“It’s crying time again…” Building evaluation capacity as catharsis

Presentation by Sara Bennett and Fiona Cram at the 2013 anzea Conference, 22-24 July, Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand.


Not-for-profit (NFP) agencies have mixed experiences of evaluation and evaluators. When these experiences are less than positive, a first-time visit from a subsequent evaluator can be tense and filled with questions: Will this person ‘get’ us and what we’re doing? Will they work in ways that will be good for our clients? Will this evaluation be as ‘bad’ as last time? This legacy of past evaluation experiences flavours initial conversations between evaluators and an NFP agency. We have found that NFP agencies often feel that evaluators have failed to acknowledge the local values underpinning services and practices, with this extending to evaluation activities. Offering an evaluation capacity building (ECB) experience means engaging with NFP agencies in ways that facilitate shared understandings of the values that guide evaluation. As evaluators, we are a key ‘tool’ in our ECB toolkit. We need to respond to and move past negative legacies through a carefully tailored blend of values and pragmatism that is responsive to the complexity of particular NFP agencies. While NFP agencies remain at the centre of our ECB approach, we also inquire after evaluator readiness. We will share the lessons of our own ongoing journey to be reflective and useful evaluation practitioners. Available on request

E Rua Ngā Tūru - A tale of two chairs

Presentation by Fiona Cram at Murihiku Marae Māori Health Symposium, Invercargill, Friday 31 May 2013, and at the Whānau Ora – Whānau Rangatiratanga Kaimahi Hui, Copthorne Bay of Islands Hotel & Resort, Waitangi, 14 June 2013.


This presentation explores how causal inferences can be drawn from a 'natural experiment', like Whānau Ora. I talk generally about health interventions and a little about the Whānau Ora initiative, and how we might evaluate the effectiveness of these interventions for Māori. I also talk about two chairs, to illustrate what a controlled experiment and what a natural experiment look like. As Dr Jane Davidson says, the real ‘gold standard’ of evaluating whether an intervention works as making sound causal inferences based on whatever evidence we can collect for the audience you’re speaking to. Available on request

Culturally Responsive Methods for Family Centred Evaluation

Fiona Cram (Katoa Ltd), Vivienne Kennedy (Independent Contractor), Kirimatao Paipa (Independent Contractor), Kataraina Pipi (FEM Ltd)

Presentation as part of the ‘Repositioning Culture and Social Justice in Evaluation’ panel at the CREA Inaugural Conference, April 2013, Palmer House, Chicago.


The Researching with Whānau Collectives project looked at methods for re- searching with Māori whānau (Indigenous New Zealand families) as collectives rather than as individuals. The project’s aim was to find methods that capture the fullness and connectedness of whānau. Methods were also selected for their potential to uphold the mana (esteem) of Māori whānau and enhance their ability to be Maori. We consider the implications of this project for Culturally Responsive Evaluation (CRE) by examining the epistemological and ontological foundations of the methods (e.g., Appreciative Inquiry, Genograms), their practical application, and feedback on them from whānau. We conclude that there are evaluation methods that respond to Māori cultural values about family. As our use of these evaluation methods has the potential to be transformative for whānau in their own right we also contemplate the role of CRE as an intervention in its own right. Available on request

Quizzing Purposeful Relationships

Presentation by Fiona Cram and Judy Oakden at the 2012 Australasian Evaluation Society International Conference 'Evaluation in a Changing World', 27-31 August, Adelaide, Australia.


How do service providers get attention for their kaupapa (mission) and navigate differences in power within relationships? How does a service provider turn everyone’s attention to focus on, and work for their kaupapa? How can relationships within a service provider, and between service providers and funders be aligned for collaboration and service delivery synergies?

This presentation introduces the idea of purposeful relationships. Purposeful relationships occur where organisations (often service providers and government agencies) are genuinely and authentically able to engage, express views and be listened to, develop agreed understandings, work collaboratively and make joint commitments to reduce disparities. Purposeful relationships build over time, are robust and institutionally based, rather than being based on the interpersonal relationships between one or two people in the organisations.

A framework for quizzing ‘purposeful relationships’ is shared. This framework has been developed into a survey approach to explicitly assess a range of different relational aspects and is useful for evaluators who need to assess the extent to which providers have developed purposeful relationships. We contend this approach is particularly useful in relationships of unequal power, as it checks a range of assumptions by asking both sides of the relationship what working together is like. This approach identifies where relationships might be particularly strong, or under tension.

We discuss results from two health-related evaluations that show how relationships progressed over time, and illustrate how a ‘purposeful relationships’ approach offers a new way to capture the development of relational trust within multi-agency groups, as well as between provider and funder organisations. This paper proposes that a questionnaire that specifically targets known aspects of relationships offers an important contribution to those charged with evaluating relationship aspects within provider service provision evaluations. Available on request