June 30, 2023

Wai Rangahau Māori Research Ethics Symposium

L/R: Mel Potaka-Osborne, Gill Potaka-Osborne, Tania Allport, Tom Johnson, , Lynley Cvitanovic, Luke Enoka
Wai Rangahau Māori Research Ethics Symposium
L/R: Mel Potaka-Osborne, Gill Potaka-Osborne, Tania Allport, Tom Johnson, , Lynley Cvitanovic, Luke Enoka

On 21 June 2023 Te Whānau o Waipareira, in association with Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi and Nōku te Ao, held a symposium for researchers interested in better understanding the application of Kaupapa Māori research ethics. The symposium proceedings were facilitated by Professor Te Kani Kingi, who is also Chair of the Waipareira Research Ethics Committee. The Ethics Committee members are Gill Potaka-Osborne of Whakauae Research, Dr Helen Wihongi, Dr Tia Dawes, and Georgina Martin. Rewa Harker is the committee coordinator, on behalf of Te Whānau o Waipareira Trust

Gill participated in the Tāmaki Makaurau symposium with Whakauae colleagues, Dr Tanya Allport, Luke Enoka, Tom Johnson, Mel Potaka-Osborne and Lynley Cvitanovic.

Te Whānau o Waipareira invited three speakers to present on broad issues of interest around Western ethical research processes and the expectations of Māori communities engaging in research.


Dr Lily George

The first speaker was Dr Lily George, former Chair of the New Zealand Ethics Committee, who outlined factors that have shaped the development of ethical requirements in research historically and internationally. She went on to localise development drawing on the impact that the ‘unfortunate experiment,' and the ensuing Cartwright Inquiry, had had particularly concerning securing the informed consent of research participants. Lily went on to explore a variety of ethical challenges she had encountered in her community research mahi. She highlighted that research with Māori occurs in a cultural context within which “creating lifelong relationships is paramount.”  Ethical research practice with Māori communities, Lily explained, is all about tikanga which reflects values, beliefs and the way Māori see the world.


Dr Tia Dawes

Dr Tia Dawes, the second speaker, explored the kupu koha and the tensions between Māori and non-Māori interpretations of koha. Tia noted that, along with some other Māori kupu, koha had recently been added to the Oxford Dictionary. The meanings attributed to koha in that publication include a gift, present, offering, donation, contribution, instruction or advice. These meanings, he argued did not adequately reflect the understanding of koha in Te Ao Māori with significant implications for research practice. Tia engaged symposium participants in lively discussion about these implications and how they could be addressed. Dr Ella Henry, a symposium participant, talked about the historical struggle that Māori researchers had faced to include koha as a legitimate part of research practice.


Dr Tony O?Connor

The third speaker was Dr Tony O'Connor who, together with Hector Kaiwai of WaiRangahau, talked about conducting research within the parameters determined by ethics committees. They highlighted, for example, how ethics approval for a study may stipulate gaining informed consent using very lengthy information sheets that may not suit the needs of research participants. Re-designing such documents, highlighting key consent issues and making innovative use of graphics to promote user accessibility, was proposed as one way of better matching ethics requirements with research participant needs. Hector and Tony discussed the realities of researching and evaluating in communities. They spoke about how researchers and evaluators need to be flexible as research design proposed at the time of writing an ethics application can ‘morph' given the reality of engaging communities in research.


Hector Kaiwai

At the conclusion of the three presentations, Hector summarised the day's discussion. He observed that the common thread that ran through each presentation was that relationships are critically important when conducting research with Māori communities.

Whakauae wishes to thank Te Whānau o Waipareira for putting this very thought provoking and engaging symposium together. We are already looking forward to the next one!



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