Kaupapa Māori Theory, Research methodology, Practice and Expressions of Rangatiratanga

This Blog is a copy of a Presentation given in February 3rd 2020 as Professorial Lecture, Ngā Wai a Te Tūī, Unitec, Ōwairaka, Tāmaki Makaurau

Ko Taranaki, ko Kariori ngā maunga
Ko Waitara, ko Waikato ngā awa
Ko Te Tai o Rehua, ko Whaingaroa ngā moana
Ko Te Ātiawa, ko Waikato, ko Ngā Māhanga a Tairi ngā iwi
Ko Ngāti Rāhiri, ko Ngāti Māhanga ngā hapū
Ko Tokomaru, ko Tainui ngā waka
Ko Waitara tōku tūrangawaewae

As we gather in this whare I feel honoured to again be on the whenua of the many iwi that connect to this place. To see, to read, to hear the many stories that derive from the whakapapa kōrero, that speak of the histories and the relationships of hapū and iwi to Ōwairaka. Of those that for generations have lived up and cared for this place and who have been sheltered, and nurtured by the whenua, taiao, puna, moana and the many kaitiaki of this place. It is an honour to deliver this kōrero here in this whare, Ngākau Māhaki, on this whenua, as a part of the research whānau of Ngā Wai a Te Tūī the first Māori research Institute within Unitec.
My journey here to this point in my personal, political and academic life was not, as with many Māori, a tidy one. Rather is has been through a myriad of experiences, events, life choices – my own and those made on my behalf by our tupuna – that have culminated in this day. From being raised by two parents who did not have the best experience in education but were adamant that it could make a difference for their children, to the extent that my father banned any of his children doing seasonal work at the freezing works because he was concerned if we did that we would never leave it. To living from the whenua, the awa, the moana – having māra kai, picking puha, harvesting kai moana from Te Tai o Rehua (Tasman Sea), catching tuna and netting whitebait by the bucket. Being connected and in touch with all that surrounded us and waking every day to the sight of Taranaki mounga, a sign always of the power of all that we live with. Growing up in time when every Native housing area had fruit trees and sharing kai was a norm. And knowing too those parts of life where we struggled with many things including the pain that my father and his whakapapa line endured as he struggled to make ends meet on Te Ātiawa lands while paying lease to be on his own whenua to a council that was in receipt of, and continues to benefit from, stolen Taranaki lands. To knowing what poverty does to our bodies, minds and spirit and what struggle against that can achieve in uplifting hope and aspirations for a better future. I was nudged along in my academic journey my tuakana who decided that no matter that I thought life was all sport and parties, made me enrol in an education paper extramurally at Massey university where I met many people who have over the past 40 years led movements for Kaupapa Māori.
It was, however, my move here to Tamaki Makaurau that brought the most significant change to my life. Within a few of months of arriving here I had been received into the Hawkewhānau and come to hear the stories of Ngati Whaatua Ki Orakei and Takaparawhau; I had my first journey to Waitangi and heard the stories and political visions of Te Kawariki and the many hapū and iwi that stood to challenge the crown and uphold Te Tiriti o Waitanga; I had become a part of a group Wāhine mo ngā Wāhine o Te Moana nui a Kiwa and came out fully as takatāpui; and when I walked into an office in the basement of the Department of Education that was the office of Linda and Graham Smith, and which began my involvement in the Māori Education group at the University of Auckland that has spanned by entire career.
Arriving in Tāmaki was a moment and place in time where the many knowledges of my Taranaki tupuna were sparked, where the connections to Waikato-Tainui and what it meant to live on Ngāti Whaatua lands came to play and my understandings of what had happened to the many generations of Taranaki iwi were transformed so that I could ‘see’ in a way that no schooling had ever enabled, that no state media had ever represented to us but in fact that every experience of schooling had denied and most media representations diminished. There have been many experiences since that time, that I don’t have time to share here, but they are experiences of knowledge awakening or which many of our people would refer to as mauri oho.
Mauri oho is important to our processes of decolonising our minds. It is more than an awakening. Mauri oho is a shift, a transition on a spectrum from mauri moe to mauri ora (Pōhatu 2011; Durie 2001). Taina Pohatu (2011, p.5) refers to mauri oho as being proactive and as “the point of being awoken from a particular state of mauri moe”. What, this indicates is that something or someone has spurred an interest within the person or as Pōhatu (2011) notes “something has happened to spark interest, a willingness to participate, make a commitment” (p.5). Takirirangi Smith (2019) also notes that “in times of stress, oho is used to describe the action and movement of the mauri oho means to awaken, enliven or to be startled into action” (p.18).
The title of this kōrero is ‘Kaupapa Māori theory, research, practice and expressions of rangatiratanga’. It is a necessarily broad title that draws on the idea that within our work there are multiple strands through which we can locate what we have called Kaupapa Māori. Kaupapa Māori as theory, Kaupapa Māori as research methodology, Kaupapa Māori as practice across many places and spaces are all expressions of rangatiratanga.
For many years, many people have been a part of Kaupapa Māori in its many forms and articulations. We know that kaupapa has multiple meanings, as foundation, as subject or issue, as platform, as proposal, as philosophy. The phrase ‘papa’ itself tells us there are layers. In regards to kaupapa as foundation, kaupapa as approach, Kaupapa as subject or issue the authors of He Pataka Kupu (2009,p.238-9) provide a range of ways of understanding kaupapa such as:
“He wāhi papatahi, he mata papatahi: ka rite te kaupapa o te rua ki te kaupapa o te awa”
“He whakaritenga ka whakatakotoria hei whai mā te tāngata e tūtuki ai tētahi āhuatanga”
“He take matua i whakatūria ai tētahi mea, i mahia ai rānei tētahi mahi”

What we know within te reo is that our kupu carry a depth meanings that can not easily be translated. The term and concept of kaupapa within te ao Māori is not new, and where we can, and do, bring such concepts into contemporary ways of understanding, the fundamental essence of our kupu do not change. What we see when our concepts are changed is a cooption of their essence for purposes that often do not serve our interests as Māori. Writers such as Carl Mika and Alison Green have argued that the cooption and redefinition of kupu Māori to fit the purposes of others, such as the Crown, leads to a misrepresentation both of the kupu itself and of the intention of the kupu. This reminds us is that our capacity as Māori to retain the fundamental control of the definitions of what it means to be Māori is critical. This extends to te reo, to tikanga, to kawa and all forms of mātauranga. This is an expression of mana motuhake and is an act of rangatiratanga.
I, and others, have argued for many years that kaupapa is of Papatūānuku. As such it is of these whenua. Kaupapa is sourced here. It is sourced in Papatūānuku, in Aotearoa, in iwi, in hapū, in whānau, in Māori. Its origins are our origins. Its foundation is our foundation. Its ukaipō is our ukaipō. Kaupapa does not exist separate from all that is Māori in these lands, all that is pure to these lands, all that is normal, all that is ordinarily of this place, all that is mana whenua, mana moana, mana atua, mana tangata. This is not a new statement. Tuakana Nepe (1991, p.4) eloquently asserted that Kaupapa Māori is sourced from Rangiātea, ngā kete o te wānanga.
Maori society has its own distinctive knowledge base. This knowledge base has its origins in the metaphysical realm and emanates as a Kaupapa Māori ‘body of knowledge’ accumulated by experiences through history, of the Māori people. This Kaupapa Māori knowledge is the systematic organisation of beliefs, experiences, understandings and interpretations of the interactions of Māori people upon Māori people, and Māori people upon their world.
Kaupapa Māori as an Indigenous body of knowledge is then sourced within mātauranga from atua and has been gifted through our tūpuna to us to utilise within te ao mārama. As such Kaupapa Māori is sourced within, and resourced by, mātauranga, reo, tikanga and drawn upon by tangata, and applied by tangata. If I was to add to the statement by Tuki that “Kaupapa Māori knowledge is the systematic organisation of beliefs, experiences, understandings and interpretations of the interactions of Māori people upon Māori people, and Māori people upon their world.”
It would be that such understandings and interpretations come also from our world to us through many forms of receiving understandings and knowing through both kauae runga and kauae raro, from both celestial and terrestrial, through interactions with the physical and the metaphysical, in feeling through kare a roto deeply, those ripples and waves that occur within our ngākau where knowledge and coming to know is fully integrated into our being, our thoughts, our behaviours.
As Takirirangi Smith (2008) highlights, “In order to know something for sure it had to be perceived and comprehended within the ngākau, the heart and internal organs of the human body” (p.6). Furthermore, he states that for our tūpuna the ngākau is the source of both emotions and motivation and is critical for learning and knowing he writes “although knowledge at most times was considered to enter through the head and be processed through the brain (the roro or processing point of entry), it had no lasting relevance until it was grounded in the ngākau and retained as memory” (p.6).
The power of such ways of knowing as defined by our ways of being, have been denied for 200 years through oppressive structures, systems,beliefs, ideologies of colonialism. A consequence of which is the impact of hegemonic thought and fear upon our own imagination, dreams, vision and aspirations. As Freire consistently reminded us, to know the word is to know the world, and to have the capacity to retain control over our lives. In this context I am drawing upon that notion to affirm that as Māori to know our words, to know our ways, our tikanga, mātauranga and reo is to know a world that is framed by distinctly Māori ways of knowing and being. That was central to how our tupuna knew their world, te ao Māori and has been a driving force behind the power of the many movements that our people have led as both the re-assertion of rangatiratanga and in the form of decolonisation, a process of seeking freedom from colonialism in all of its forms. I say this as over the past nearly 40 years we have seen the exponential re-growth and re-generation of Kaupapa Māori within Aotearoa after our people have suffered, resisted and survived extreme and severe acts of colonial ethnocide, epistemicide, and genocide.
It is equally important to context our contemporary Kaupapa Māori movements within the ‘re’ of regrowth, regeneration, revitalisation as they are a part of a wider whakapapa of each of ourwhānau, hapu, iwi and Māori community resistance movements. As a mokopuna of both Taranaki and Waikato I am in no doubt that it has been mātauranga, tikanga and te reo of Taranaki and Waikato respectively that informed how we lived for many generations prior to colonial disruption and which has informed movements and struggles for rangatiratga since that time within those areas, likewise for other whānau,hapu and iwi.
Within Kaupapa Māori the ways of our tupuna inform all that we do, as do the whenua, maunga, awa, moana, and all living things that sustain us as human beings and which enable us to live and for our whakapapa to continue through generations. This has been signalled by our tūpuna in whakatauki such as “Whatungarongaro te tangata, toi tū te whenua” when people perish, the land remains. In fact Indigenous Peoples around the world have been pronouncing for many years now that unless there is an end to such destructive ways of being there will come a time when the earth itself will remove us in order that all other living things may replenish and continue to survive.
As we hear with climate change, the pollution of waterways, the plasticisation of the oceans, the extinction of animal relations daily, there continues to be a failure to make transformative change on a level that will make a difference. I raise this as for a number of years we have seen more and more people-centric ways dominate what happens in relation to the earth and which are increasingly infiltrating our epistemologies as Māori. This is all a part of a epistemic struggle that we have been engaged with since colonisation. The struggle over knowledge, world views and ways of knowing.
This is not a doom scenario. As Māori we have lived with the consequences of colonial greed and obssessive appetite for extraction and wealth for generations. It is a call to understand that the wider context of these issues requires a decolonisation that moves beyond the piecemeal changes wtihin western institutions into all of our lived spaces. This is a key point within Linda’s book ‘Decolonising Methodologies’.
The situation we find ourselves in within Aotearoa is inherent to the colonising imperialist supremacist capitalist neoliberal agenda that began to impose itself in 1769 and which, irrespective of the illusion of terms such as ‘post-colonialism’ and more recently ‘post-Treaty settlements’, continue to dominate relationships and reproduce itself within this country. We continue to see, feel and be impacted upon by the rape of the land, and the poistioning and commodifcation of that which keeps us alive – water – and endure the inexhaustible extraction of all that sustains us. And these practices are presented back to us as acceptable even when we know that such systems will only ever benefit the few over the collective.
All of these things Graham Smith (2003) has referred to as new formations of colonisation. A critical intervention in such formations is for our continued assertion of mana motuhake and rangatiratanga in all parts of our lives. Within Kaupapa Māori theory, Graham argues that “a critical element of the ‘revolution’ has to be the struggle for our minds”(p.3). This struggle is one that also moves beyond knowledge to how we experience and live our lives. As Linda Smith (1999, p.23) states:
“The reach of imperialism into ‘our heads’ challenges those who belong to colonized communities to understand how this occurred, partly because we perceive a need to decolonize our minds, to recover ourselves, to claim a space in which to develop a sense of authentic humanity.”

Such resistance and revolutionary thinking continues amongst our people, for example Taranaki koroua Huirangi Waikerepuru states:
Ko Taranaki Maunga, muruhia Taranaki mountain, confiscated
Ko Taranaki whenua, muruhia Taranaki land, confiscated
Ko Taranaki moana, muruhia Taranaki seas, confiscated
Ko Taranaki tangata e tū tonu nei Taranaki mana still stands firm

(Waikerepuru in Hohaia, O’Brien & Strongman 2005 cited in Ngāwhare 2014. P.24)

Koro Huirangi provides us with both analysis and hope. That is a critical component of Kaupapa Māori theory and research, which is to (i) inform our theories and methodologies from a basis of our own understandings in ways that reaffirm the moemoeā, wawata, manawa ora, whakapono, tūmanako of our tūpuna; (ii) that enable critical Māori descriptions, explanations, interpretation and analysis that inform what Graham Smith (1997) referred to as the validation and legitimation of Māori knowledge, language and culture and (iii) to do in ways that provide transformative intervention and decolonisation. Being visionary and working towards collective wellbeing is central to our ways of being as Te Puea stated:
Mehemea ka moemoeā ahau, ko ahau anake Mehemea ka moemoeā tātou, ka taea e tātou,
If I dream alone only I benefit. If we all dream together we can all succeed together.

This brings me to the ‘expressions of rangatiratanga’ part of the title. In 3 days is the 180th anniversary of the signing of Te Tiriti o Waitangi, in 2 days is the 180th anniversary of the hui held by our people at Tau Rangatiratanga in Waitangi where our tupuna went through a process of wānanga over the kaupapa of signing a covenant, a Treaty, a binding agreement with the representatives of the British Crown. We know that Te Tiriti o Waitangi has its origins in He Whakaputanga o te Rangatiratanga o Nu Tireni (known in English as the Declaration of Independence of the United Tribes of New Zealand) signed on October 28th 1935. In He Whakaputanga the term ‘ tino rangatira’ is translated by Manuka Henare as “the absolute leaders of the tribes” and ‘rangatiratanga’ as ‘authority and leadership’ and ‘independence’ as within the English title.
Te Tiriti o Waitangi is a crucial document in the articulation of Kaupapa Māori theory. It is a binding agreement between Māori and the Crown (and its agencies). It is a document that articulates our sovereign, independent rights as Tāngata Whenua. It is a document that is often considered by Māori as tapu because of the deep significance within which it is held. It has meaning to Māori that reaches into fundamental oral beliefs that the word once spoken must be recognised in its fullest. We can say therefore that each word in Te Tiriti o Waitangi has significance. Intentions and interpretations are important in the negotiating of meanings. This has remained a point of contention in regard to Te Tiriti o Waitangi and the relationship of Māori and the Crown. From a Kaupapa Māori position the accepted validity and legitimacy of te reo Māori locates the Māori text as the primary one from which we need to take meaning and operationalise relationships and actions. This too is validated by the fact that the majority of our tūpuna signed the reo Māori text (Orange 1987; Simpson 1990). Te Tiriti o Waitangi is central to how we view a relationship with the Crown (Kawharu 1989). It affirms whānau, hapu, iwi, Māori as tangata whenua, and guarantees that maintenance of fundamental rights. This is encapsulated within Te Tiriti which notes in Article Two:
Ko te Kuini o Ingarangi ka wakarite ka wakaae ki nga Rangatira ki nga hapu ki nga tangata katoa o Nu Tirani te tino rangatiratanga o o ratou wenua o ratou kainga me o ratou taonga katoa. Otiia ko nga Rangatira o te Wakaminenga me nga Rangatira katoa atu ka tuku ki te Kuini te hokonga o era wahi wenua e pai ai te tangata nona te Wenua ki te ritenga o te utu e wakaritea ai e ratou ko te kai hoko e meatia nei e te Kuini hei kai hoko mona.

Tino rangatiratanga, is an overarching element in Kaupapa Māori theory, research and practice. Tino rangatiratanga links us directly to a right to define and control what it means to be Māori in Aotearoa. Tino rangatiratanga is expressed in Te Tiriti o Waitangi in relationship to the notion ‘kawangatanga’ which is referred to in Article one and translated by Hugh Kawharu as ‘government’ and which others refer to as ‘governorship’. The relationship between these two notions is perhaps one of the most hotly contested areas in regard to Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
The Waitangi Tribunal Report on the Motunui (which is Ngāti Rāhiri whenua of Te Ātiawa iwi) claim notes that under the Treaty of Waitangi Act 1975 there is recognition that there are differences between the Māori and English texts and that the Tribunal is required to decide on issues raised by the differences. In that report there is significant discussion in regard to the importance, and interpretation, of the term ‘rangatiratanga’. In that report the Waitangi Tribunal (1986, p.51) notes that in 1840 both iwi and Missionaries were conversant with Missionary use of the phrase tino rangatiratanga through the use of the term within the Lords Prayer.
Kia tae mai tou rangatiratanga.
Bring us Your Chiefly rule

Nōu hoki te rangatiratanga,
Through your chiefly position

Tino rangatiratanga is Māori chieftainship, self-determination, autonomy, sovereignty. Tino rangatiratanga is also an expression of mana motuhake. Mana motuhake is grounded in our tangata whenuatanga, our Indigenous position in Aotearoa. In reflecting on both Te Tiriti o Waitangi and mana motuhake, Annette Sykes writes “The Treaty is a symbol which reflects Te Mana Māori Motuhake”.
Within Kaupapa Māori to assert tino rangatiratanga is to assert our fundamental rights as determined within Te Tiriti o Waitangi. To do anything less, to work in ways that deny rangatiratanga and privilege kawanatanga is not acceptable. And I would say, is not Kaupapa Māori theory, research or practice. Graham Hingangaroa Smith notes that from this context the term ‘tino rangatiratanga’ is drawn and related it to Kaupapa Māori in the form of a ‘self-determination principle of asserting Māori control over Māori kaupapa (Smith, G.H. 1997) That was an underpinning assumption inherent in the developments of Kaupapa Māori educational initiatives.
What we know as Māori is that many actions in mainstream educational institutions are irreconcilable in regards to how we understand rangatiratanga. It is little wonder then that within the education arena this has been most successfully expressed in Māori initiated, driven and controlled contexts initiatives such as Te Kōhanga Reo, Kura Kaupapa Māori, Whare Kura and Whare Wānanga.
For many generations we have worked to decolonise the academy and we have, and continue, to face resistance across the education sector. We have seen increased promotions of things Māori but little systemic or structural change. We have been flooded with ‘taha Māori’ type initiatives and changes which are piecemeal and continue to seek to ‘fit’ us within existing flawed systems and assumptions. Māori concepts are being used within mainstream Crown agencies, Ministries, NGO’s and a range of educational contexts with limited consideration of the depth of what those mean. In some cases our knowledge has been reduced to a term on a billboard. Rangatiratanga is being reduced to specific spheres of curriculum or ideas of success with no meaningful engagement with what constitutes a deep meaningful and intended relationship as envisioned by our tupuna in Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
Both He Whakaputanga o te Rangatiratanga o Nu Tireni & Te Tiriti o Waitangi were, and are futuristic documents. Our tupuna had clear aspirations and visions for future generations, and sought to protect those through the assertion and protection of rangatiratanga and taonga tuku iho. This is yet to be realised or even envisaged by the Crown as the other signatory on behalf of all others that have settled on these lands. As such we have Pākehā institutions that have existed in Aotearoa for over 150 years who do not yet see themselves as an agent of the Crown with obligations under Te Tiriti o Waitangi, or that continue to reproduce surface responses to those obligations through the co-option of selected components of tikanga Māori to give the impression of change. There are many recent examples of these points including
• Foreshore and Seabed – the largest contemporary land theft in the past 20 years
• The 2019 Waitara lands re-confiscation and freeholding of stolen Waitara lands
• The removal of Māori children by the Ministry For Children and failure to protect those tamariki and mokopuna.
• The co-option of Māori names for Ministry’s such as the Ministry For children – Oranga Tamariki – with no capacity to fulfil that name.
• Ihumātao and the ongoing failure of the Crown to return and protect the whenua
• Continued failure across Health, Education, Justice etc to honour Te Tiriti o Waitangi
• Ongoing use of Māori concepts by Pākehā organisations and institution in reductionist and selective ways that do not fulfil the intent of the concept or practice.
• Failure to adequately support Māori initiatives such as whānau ora, Māori educational initiatives from kōhanga to wānanga.

When I was preparing this talk I reflected on number of interactions and observations that I have had over the past year. One was when a government department asked if I would comment on piece of research they were about to launch. They had selected an external independent researcher and were looking at an issue that would impact on Māori in their sector. This had been preceded by another government agency contacting a Māori health provider to meet and give feedback on another piece of research being undertaken by a Māori researcher in the agency. Both discussions included the idea that they would be engaging in Kaupapa Māori research. Neither could provide any indication that they were, in fact, able to engage with tino rangatiratanga which is central to Kaupapa Māori research. And we should not be surprised by that. As anyone, Māori or otherwise, working for the Crown is not engaged in Kaupapa Māori research, why? Because they are an emodiment of kawanatanga, not rangatiratanga.
The Crown and its associated agencies do not enact rangatiratanga, only we enact rangatiratanga. What this means is that we need to challenge directly Crown and its agencies that coopt ‘Kaupapa Māori’ as a means by which to name their cultural activities whilst simultaneously refusing to operate in ways that align to Te Tiriti o Waitangi. Furthermore, we need to continue to assert that Kaupapa Māori theory, research and practice is an expression of rangatiratanga. It is for Māori to define, to determine, to drive and to control. It is also ours to be responsible for and accountable to. If we are to do that fully then we must continue to take on the challenges that lie in front of us in living our lives as Māori in a Kaupapa Māori way that aligns with our tikanga, that voices our reo both as language and voice and which brings forward mātauranga Māori in all the contexts that we find ourselves in.
Continuing to assert rangatiratanga is critical to the future wellbeing of tamariki and mokopuna, where the Crown continues to fail in its role to be a good guest on our lands we will continue to provide ways of being that are of this land and its people. That has been the legacy left to us by our tupuna as guidance for how to retain the mana that is an inherent part of who we are as their mokopuna. As is noted in the Taranaki iwi deed of settlement (2015, p.54). The following whakawai, recorded by the Parihaka leaders in the twentieth century, foresees the restoration of autonomy, empowerment, and hope for a better future:
Nāu te pahua tuatahi, māku te pahua whakamutunga
Yours was the first plunder, but final response will be mine

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Whanganui: Te Atawhai o Te Ao
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