Navigating wahine Kāi Tahu methodology


  • Kerri Cleaver Kāi Tahu, Kāti Māmoe, Waitaha University of Otago, Aotearoa New Zealand



Herstory, mana w?hine, K?i Tahutaka, Mahika Kai, P?r?kau, social work, autoethnography


INTRODUCTION: Indigenous research is diverse and rich with multiple epistemological understandings. There is no one template for how we go about this. Shut out from the hallowed halls of academia for generations, Indigenous wa ̄hine have taken up the diversity of our perspectives and, in doing so, space has been created to compose from our own contexts.

APPROACH: This article explores one way of engaging in research as an Indigenous social worker. It is the sharing of my own process of mapping out my legitimacy in an academic space and in a Ma ̄ori space as a colonised wahine Kāi Tahu caught in the dual complexities of decolonising and living in this time. Navigating wāhine Kāi Tahu methodology is about the journey to create from my own context, honouring the process and the voices and experiences of the wāhine Kāi Tahu who shared in my research. The process includes the melding of traditional Kāi Tahu stories into a methodological framework in Indigenous ethnography.


Anderson, N. (1923). The Hobo: The sociology of the homeless man. University of Chicago Press

Bateson, G., & Mead, M. (1942). Balinese character; a photographic analysis. New York Academy of Sciences.

Bishop, R. (1998). Freeing ourselves from neo-colonial domination in research: A Maori approach to creating knowledge. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 11(2), 199–219.

Bochner, A., & Ellis, C. (2016). Evocative autoethnography: Writing lives and telling stories. Routledge.

Brown, D. (2008). “Ko to ringa ki nga rakau a te Pakeha”— Virtual Taonga Maori and museums. Visual Resources, 24(1), 59–75.

Ellis, C. (1999). Heartful autoethnography. Qualitative Health Research, 9(5), 669–683.

Ellis, C. (2004). The ethnographic I: A methodological novel about autoethnography (Vol. 13). Rowman Altamira.

Else, A. (1993). Women together: A history of women’s organisations in New Zealand: Ngā rōpū wāhine o te motu. Wellington, NZ: Historical Branch, Department of Internal Affairs.

Harper, D. (2003). Framing photographic ethnography: A case study. Ethnography, 4(2), 241–266.

hooks, B. (1989). Talking back: Thinking feminist, thinking black. South End Press.

Jackson, M. (2013). Research and the colonisation of Maori knowledge. He Pukenga Korero, 4(1), 69-76.

Jenkins, K., & Pihama, L. (2001). Matauranga wahine: Teaching Maori women’s knowledge alongside feminism. Feminism & Psychology, 11(3), 293–303.

Johnston, P., & Pihama, L. (1994). The marginalisation of Maori women. Hecate, 20(2), 83–97.

Kermoal, N. (2010). The nationalist gaze of an Aboriginal artist. In B. Hokowhitu (Ed.), Indigenous identity and resistance: Researching the diversity of knowledge (pp. 169–178). Otago University Press.

Kidd, J., & Finlayson, M. (2009). When needs must: Interpreting autoethnographical stories. Qualitative Inquiry, 15(6), 980–995.

Kovach, M. (2010). Conversation method in Indigenous research. First Peoples Child & Family Review, 5(1), 40–48.

Lee, J. (2009). Decolonising Māori narratives: Pūrakau as method. Kaupapa Rangahau: A Reader, 91. Retrieved from download/242/242-1618-1-PB.pdf

Lorde, A. (2018). The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. UK: Penguin.

Matahaere-Atariki, D. (1997). Interrogating speech in colonial encounters: Native women and voice (Unpublished master’s thesis), Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand.

Mello, R. A. (2002). Collocation analysis: A method for conceptualizing and understanding narrative data. Qualitative Research, 2(2), 231–243.

Mikaere, A. (1994). Maori women: Caught in the contradictions of a colonised reality. Waikato Law Review, 2, 125–149.

Mills, M. (2009). Pou Rewa: The liquid post, Maori go digital? Third Text, 23(3), 241–250.

Murphy, N. (2013). Te awa atua: Menstruation in the pre-colonial Maori world: An examination of stories, ceremonies and practices regarding menstruation in the pre-colonial Māori world. Whakatane, NZ: He Puna Manawa.

O’Regan, H. (2001). Ko Tahu, ko au: Kāi Tahu tribal identity. Christchurch, NZ: Horomaka Publishing.

Pardington, F. (2013). Towards a kaupapa of ancestral power and talk (Unpublished doctoral thesis). The University of Auckland, Auckland NZ.

Said, E. W. (1979). Orientalism. Vintage.

Simpson, L. (2011). Dancing on our turtle’s back. Arbeiter Ring Publishing.

Smith, L. T. (2013). Decolonizing methodologies: Research and indigenous peoples. Zed Books.

Somerville, A. (2010). My poetry is a fire. In Wineera and Sullivan writing fire from Hawai’i. In B. Hokowhitu et al. (Eds.), Indigenous identity and resistance: Exploring the diversity of knowledge (pp. 37–54). Otago University Press.

Social Workers Registration Board. (2020). The SWRB ten core competence standards. Retrieved from https://swrb. standards/

Spivak, G. C. (1988). Can the subaltern speak? In R. Morris (Ed.), Can the subaltern speak? Reflections on the history of an idea (pp. 21–78). Columbia University Press.

Wang, C., & Burris, M. A. (1997). Photovoice: Concept, methodology, and use for participatory needs assessment. Health Education & Behavior, 24(3), 369–387.

Wanhalla, A. (2015). In/visible sight: The mixed-descent families of southern New Zealand. Bridget Williams Books.

Williams, J. (2004). E pākihi hakinga a kai: An examination of pre-contact resource management practice in Southern Te Wāi Pounamu (Unpublished doctoral thesis). University of Otago (Te Whare Wānanga o Otāgo), Dunedin, New Zealand.

Wynter, S. (2003). Unsettling the coloniality of being/ power/truth/freedom: Towards the human, after man, its overrepresentation—An argument. CR: The New Centennial Review, 3(3), 257–337.

Yegenoglu, M. (1998). Colonial fantasies: Towards a feminist reading of Orientalism: Cambridge University Press.




How to Cite

Cleaver, K. (2020). Navigating wahine Kāi Tahu methodology. Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work, 32(3), 5–16.



Original Articles