“The recognition of the rights of Māori as the indigenous people must take preference in any community research, especially with the number of global influences that can undermine Kaupapa Māori practices.”
Erena Kara, (Ngapuhi) Project Manager at Te Hau Ora o Kaikohe, spoke to community researcher Rawiri Blundell (Ngati Porou), Equity Manager Midland Cancer Network.
Career path – how you got to here?
I wonder sometimes whether it’s been by choice, or by some unforeseen force which has influenced how I’ve ended up here. I look back in my career in health and realise there’s certainly been a combination of circumstances, influences, and decisions made, that have contributed to my working in the health arena. Research has been a part of that career path and that we as Māori working in the system can make positive change for our whānau.
Can you tell us what’s on your mind at the moment, and is there a whakatauki that sums this up?
A few years ago, I was involved in a three-year research project in Waikato where approximately 5,300 Māori participants were screened for diabetes (Te Wai O Rona Diabetes Prevention Strategy) There were some significant intervention and prevention strategies developed together with Māori through that research but there were also some major headaches.
I realised at the end of that research project that there were a lot of papers being published from a tauiwi perspective and decided a paper from a Māori perspective was needed. This was the first time I had ever been involved in a research project, and believe you me, it was definitely a learning curve. I’m always mindful of this whakatauki.
Kua whakarewa, ake, te kaupapa hei awhina te iwi.
Kua whakarewa te iwi, hei awhina, kē, tō ratou ake kaupapa.
Has the purpose served the people or have the people served their purpose?
Your favourite piece of research?
I always enjoy reading research from Māori researchers. I find it interesting what we as Māori perceive as the “norm” and it’s a whole new experience for others. I enjoyed reading “How Tikanga guides and protects the research process: Insights from the Hauora Tane project.” [See here]
Tell me about a challenge you’ve been grappling with?
I think there’s always a challenge for us as Māori working in the “system”. We have made some progress in some areas but there are still huge inequalities experienced by our whānau in health, education, and housing. Research can contribute to positive changes within our communities; it’s about ensuring Māori realities such as mātauranga, te reo, me ona tikanga has the same validity as the non Māori counterparts.
Why do you do community research?
From my perspective, my involvement with community research has always been about ensuring there’s a Māori voice in there. The recognition of the rights of Māori as the indigenous people must take preference in any community research, especially with the number of global influences that can undermine Kaupapa Māori practices.