Te Toi Ōhanga: emerging writing and publishing policies

This blog contains a numbered list of policies we endeavour to follow in our writing and publishing work at Te Toi Ōhanga™. This list will be revised, added to and updated as new kōrero around new policies emerges.

1.  The use of literature review method in Māori knowledge development
In our writing work at Te Toi Ōhanga, we have begun to explore how the expression of kawa, kaupapa and tikanga can be used to decolonise ‘literature review method’.  Our investigation into the possible role of literature review method (Kōrero Māori report 16) suggested that (i) while literature review method is a well-established, (western scientific) knowledge development tool that primarily used by Māori pūkenga within the western academy and that (ii) its utility as a tool for assisting Māori (community) knowledge development is limited by a number of underpinning assumptions that are poorly aligned with key characteristics of what we described as a (generalised) Māori cultural worldview. At the end of report 16 (pp. 29-30), we provide a list of important changes to current literature review method that (i) we felt would assist in better aligning this tool towards a Māori worldview and (ii) that we wanted to try and adopt as part of our own writing work. While the task of decolonising literature review method is both large and challenging, we have taken our first steps toward achieving this writing goal by adopting the following writing policies.

(i) In preparing a written review of published literature, our written commentary on mātauranga Māori will be mana-enhancing.

(ii) In preparing a written review of published literature, where possible, we will broaden our use of knowledge types beyond theory.

(iii) In preparing a written review of published literature, we will broaden our use of logic in a way that (a) focuses on the central role of inclusive logic to Māori knowledge development and (b) restricts the use of exclusive logic to appropriate Māori linguistic categories.

(iv) In preparing a written review of published literature, we will shift our written scholarship in a direction that pays greater attention to the role of synthesis in Māori knowledge development.

(v) In preparing a written review of published literature, we will avoid staying within the knowledge confines of a single academic discipline. Mātauranga Māori spans across and beyond current disciplines boundaries and to the extent that this is possible, our written scholarship in the area of mātau needs to reflect the same.

(vi) In preparing a written review of published literature, we will use Māori cultural taonga to guide the attribution of authorship and acknowledgement of intellectual contributions.

(vii) In preparing a written review of published literature, we will preference the use of Te Reo Māori to assist in (i) clarifying the cultural ownership of ideas and (ii) avoiding ambiguity in the communication of meaning.

1.1  A marae-based model of written literature review
In literature review method it is common practice to paraphrase what another author has said – with appropriate in-text citations – and to keep direct quotations to a minimum – once again, with appropriate use of in-text citations. We have problems with this style of academic writing. The act of paraphrasing seems to us to involve a process of simplifying and abstracting what another author has said in a way that once again diminishes the mana of this author’s written contribution. This is not how we would give expression to kawa, kaupapa and tikangain a hapū knowledge development context.

The significance of a marae in Māori knowledge development should not be overlooked.When we sit together in a wharenui, we are surrounded by our tūpuna and the artistic symbols that provide a visual depiction of all the realms that are part of a Māori way of seeingthe world. Our behaviour in this space is guided by the expression of kawa, kaupapa and tikanga in a way that makes possible the creation of a collective ‘kōrero Māori’. As the kōrero rakau is passed from one whānau member to another, that individual speaks with the invested authority of all their tūpuna and the mana of such contributions is appropriately treated. It is usually the role of rangatira and/or tohunga to weave all of these varied contributions together into a whāriki.

In an attempt to (i) appropriately treat the mana of each Māori author’s written kōrero and (ii) provide a space for the creation of a written whāriki (i.e. synthesis), we have created a literature review that has two distinctive and different parts. The first part is written in a way that attempts to create a wānanga. In this part of the literature review we pass the kōrero rakau from one Māori author to another and allow them freedom to speak to the kaupapa being discussed without having to be paraphrased or having their kōrero reduced to a minimalistic direct quotation that can easily lack context.

The second part of our literature review is written in a way that attempts to draw on all of the many written contributions to the kōrero presented in part a and to weave them together into a whāriki or written synthesis (i.e. part b). The aim of this written synthesis is not to search for the latest or most scientifically defensible, or robust theories. Rather, our aim in creating a written synthesis is to bring the kōrero ‘parts’ together in a way in which the ‘whole’ can be more clearly seen. This writing goal is therefore assisted with the use of visual depiction.

1.2  The role of kawa, kaupapa and tikanga
While still very much work in progress, we feel that this approach to the creation of a culturally responsive literature review is more closely aligned with the expression of kawa, kaupapa and tikanga that guide our work in engaging with Māori communities. In particular:

(i) Manaaki (-tanga) – this has been achieved by providing an opportunity for our Māori pūkenga to share their kōrero and expressions of scholarly work in this literature review in a way that appropriately treats the mana of what they, their tūpuna, whānau, hapū and iwihave shared with us.

(ii) Whanaunga (-tanga) – in this literature review we are able to acknowledge that ourcollective ‘kōrero’ embraces and transcends ‘theory’ in a way that preferences the role of whānau5 relationships as an appropriate Māori cultural basis for the creation and sharing of mātau.

(iii) Kotahi (-tanga) – we have attempted to show that ‘inclusive’ logic has a central role to play in the expression of kawa, kaupapa and tikanga associated with whakatupu mātauranga, whakatupu mōhiotanga and whakatupu māramatanga. In this literature review, our use ofinclusive logic embraces the fullness and diversity of all kōrero Māori as contributions that aid us in ‘seeing’ more fully the wonderful richness of Te Ao Māori.

(iv) Wairua (-tanga) – by creating a literature review based on the kawa of a marae, we have attempted to move more closely towards the expression of wairuatanga. On a marae, the expression of wairua plays a central role in the co-creation of mātau by both manuhiri and tangata whenua. As the name suggests (i.e. ‘wai’ ‘rua’ – two waters), collective knowledge creation activities can be depicted by the meeting of two tapu waters (i.e. those received from our tūpuna and those we contribute towards enhancing the mana and mauri of a kaupapa that forms the basis of wānanga).

(v) Whakapapa – the co-creation of mātau by whānau and hapū is grounded in whakapapa. The whakapapa of te iho matua, te aho matua whānau o Rangi rāua ko Papatūānuku provides us a relational ontology within which to position mātau. We have tried to give expression to whakapapa with the creation of a literature review that seeks to recognise and takeownership of all available parts of knowing that influence Māori cultural wellbeing andsurvival.

(vi) Pūkenga (-tanga) – we have taken a small, but confident step towards the creation oftikanga (i.e. a right way of doing things) that can be used to support a distinctly kaupapa Māori approach to knowledge development. A culturally responsive literature review is only one of many such academic tools that could be reframed in this way.

(vii) Te Reo Māori – while the ideal to which we aspire is to be able to write in Te Reo Māori, we have taken a small, but confident step towards preferencing greater use of the Māorilanguage in this literature review.

(viii) Ūkaipō (-tanga) – our marae are more than just places for the collective co-constructionof mātau by tangata whenua and manuhiri. They are our home, the location of our whare tūpuna, an essential part of our tūrangawaewae and most importantly, a place in which weplay an integral role and are ourselves nurtured and supported. Thus, wānanga on a maraeinvolves much more than just an exchange of ideas. By repositioning our use of literature review method in a marae-based wānanga, we have attempted to reclaim the expression ofūkaipōtanga as an essential basis for Māori knowledge development.

(ix) Rangatira (-tanga) – in collective whakatupu mātauranga on a marae, rangatira and tohunga play an important role in weaving the various strands of kōrero together in ways thatgive expression to māramatanga. The voice and mana of our tūpuna can also be expressed in our kōrero. We have made provision in our literature review for both kōrero (report 5) and the weaving of a whāriki from the various strands of kōrero (report 6). Once again, this is an incomplete, but confident step.

(x) Kaitiaki (-tanga) – the creation and use of an academic tool or method that gives more effective expression to kawa, kaupapa and tikanga can be thought of as an expression of kaitiakitanga linked with maintaining the wellbeing and survival of te iho matua, te aho matuawhānau o Rangi rāua ko Papatūānuku.

2.  The use of Te Reo Māori in our published work
The various report series published on the Te Toi Ōhanga website have been written primarily in English. This is partly a reflection of the competency of the authors and also a desire to make the information contained within these reports widely accessible to both Māori pūkenga and non-Māori scholars. The use of the English language to narrate, describe and explain Te Ao Māori is far from ideal. This is because the worldview assumptions behind Māori and non-Māori languages are rarely the same.

Furthermore, direct word-for-word translation between Te Reo Māori and the English language that conveys equivalence of meaning is also rare. In more recent times, as part of the revitalisation of the Māori language, there has been a concerted effort made to express the vocabulary of the English language in Te Reo Māori (i.e. the creation of so-called loan words and transliterations). A benefit of this work is that it has extended the vocabulary of Te Reo Māori and thus made modern conversational Māori easier. For example, we now have words in Te Reo Māori for modern-day entities like: economy (i.e. Ōhanga) and industry (i.e. ahumahi). We also have numerous transliterations for everyday objects like: gumboot (i.e. kamupūtu), picture theatre (i.e. whare pikitia), motorbike (i.e. motupaika), tent (tēneti), pen (i.e. pene), pencil (i.e. pene rākau) etc. However, there are also problems with the extension of Te Reo Māori into the domain of the English language. Because these two languages are based on two very different perceptions of reality, accommodation of the vocabulary of the English language within Te Reo Māori supports an imperceptible, but very real process of enculturation.

2.1  Use of in-text translation
While the various report series published on the Te Toi Ōhanga website have been written principally in English, in some report we have chosen to convey meaning in Te Reo Māori supported by in-text translation. This is not always possible for practical reasons. For example, the nature of the subject matter in some reports ideally requires the use of more Māori vocabulary than other reports.  In written text involving the use of numerous Māori words it becomes very difficult to use in-text translation because the constant addition of translation text tends to: (i) make reading difficult, (ii) can require a lot of repetition and (iii) make comprehension of the main text difficult. In these cases, we prefer to use a glossary of Te Reo Māori terms and phrases, included as an appendix to the main text.

2.2  Reasons for the use of in-text citations
We are seeking to better understand just what the reframing of the Māori language looks like in a modern societal context that places great importance on written language. As part of this journey, we have adopted the following policies.

(i) In some written contexts, the English language lacks vocabulary that adequately conveys equivalence of meaning in Te Reo Māori. In this situation it is appropriate to use Māori vocabulary and where necessary, kōrero Māori that assists in avoiding ambiguity.

(ii) In some written contexts, the English language fails to adequately provide holistic meaning. In this situation it is appropriate to use Māori vocabulary and where necessary, kōrero Māori that assists in communicating clarity of meaning.

 (iii) In some written contexts, the use of the English language confuses ownership of meaning and/or preferred understanding. In places where it seems important to be explicit about Māori ownership of meaning and/or understanding, then we have chosen to convey kōrero in Te Reo Māori.

(iv) Some English terms, particularly those used in the domain of western science are a cause of grief and in some cases offence for our people. For this reason, where ever possible we avoid the use of such English terms and instead choose to convey meaning in Te Reo Māori.       

(v) In some situations, the use of written English to describe and/or explain Te Ao Māori creates grammatical problems. In these situations, it is grammatically much easier to use Te Reo Māori as a basis for written kōrero.

(vi) Attempts to stay within the constraint of the English language when describing Te Ao Māori tends to create a need for elaboration that lengthens and complicates written text. To some extent this problem can be alleviated with the use of footnotes. However, overuse of footnotes is also undesirable. To avoid the use of lengthy elaboration we preference the use of Te Reo Māori.

(vii) For the convenience of English language speakers and when appropriate we include a Māori language glossary – with the proviso that a Te Reo Māori-to-English translation may not fully compensate for the problems mentioned above. Also, the use of glossaries is not intended as an alternative to dictionaries that convey the full range of possible meaning associated with the use of vocabulary in differing contexts. Rather, glossaries provide a guide to ‘word meaning’ as implied by Māori language use within the written text of a given report.

(viii) For the convenience of English language speakers and when appropriate we include in-text translations for Māori language use – with the proviso (once again) that a Te Reo Māori-to-English in-text translation also does not necessarily compensate for the problems mentioned above. In some cases, the use of in-text translation overly complicates and ‘clutters’ English written text and can be a source of visual annoyance for fluent speakers of the Māori language. However, on balance, the feedback that we have had from our use of in-text translation has been positive, especially for readers who are unable to read and appropriately interpret Te Reo Māori. Ultimately, our aim is to make our written reports as accessible as possible to greatest number of people.

(ix) Te Reo Māori is one of 3 nationally recognised languages of New Zealand. For this reason, it is a legitimate form of scholarly and legal communication and as such, there is a very real sense in which its use (i) does not need to be academically justified and (iii) should be encouraged, particularly as a contribution, no matter how small, towards helping others to learn the Māori language.

Finally, for those wanting to learn to speak and read Te Reo Māori, the staff at Te Toi Ōhanga are developing an online Māori language learning programme that is available through our online ‘Teachme’ web-app.

3. ‘Kōrero’ as an inclusive linguistic category
We intentionally avoid reducing the written contributions of Māori pūkenga to the status of ‘theory’ as a basis for theoretical or methodological positioning. By doing this we do not want to say that theory has no place in written kaupapa Māori or that it is wrong. Some of our whānau in the western academy have strongly urged the need to recognise the importance of theory development as a vital contribution to Māori cultural wellbeing and survival. While acknowledging the importance of this ‘scholarly’ contribution, we want to avoid a situation in which we conclude that ‘theory’ is the only epistemological and linguistic ‘building block’ that we as Māori can or want to use as a basis for Māori knowledge development. For this reason, we preference the use of the Māori word ‘kōrero’ and intend that our use of this word expresses an inclusive logic that is mana-enhancing and capable of embracing all of the wonderful contributions to mātau that have come from Māori communities and the varied creative activities of Māori pūkenga in the western academy.

Because kōrero is created by the collective knowledge creation efforts of Māori communities, it also embraces properties that are not generally found in theory. In particular, in weaving a collective whāriki of mātauranga, all kōrero contributions are considered important and essential in the creation of a strong and long-lasting weave. Weaving a ‘knowledge’ whāriki of this kind can be very difficult today because of the geographically dispersed nature of hapū and the mātauranga they carry. For this reason, when writing in the domain of Te Ao Māori, it is not possible to say that a document or report is ‘finished’ in the same way that it is possible to make such a knowledge or writing claim in the domain of western science. Written Māori scholarship could more helpfully be thought of as a ‘living document’ that could potentially continue to be contributed to for generations to come.

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