Te Rangahau o Te Tuakiri Māori me Ngā Waiaro ā-Pūtea

Dr Carla Houkamau, Dr Kiri Dell, Dr Jamie Newth and Dr Jason Mika - IIRC20
Thursday, November 19, 2020

Understanding Māori economic aspirations is a complicated endeavour, with many layers of intra-group diversity to consider. To date, there have been no large-scale nationwide representative studies with Māori that link personal cultural beliefs and practices to economic choices. Te Rangahau o Te Tuakiri Māori me Ngā Waiaro ā-Pūtea | The Māori Identity and Financial Attitudes Study (MIFAS) was designed to address that gap in understanding. The MIFAS is a nationwide study that examines the relationship between Māori identity and economic attitudes and values. The entire MIFAS comprises over 340 individual items, takes approximately 30–45 min to complete and embeds a short, 40-item version of the MMM-ICE. Apart from questions explicitly focused on financial literacy and attitudes towards business and economic activity, this study also examines a range of health behaviours and attitudes towards the self and society. Information about the sample and methods has been described elsewhere (Houkamau, Henare & Sibley, 2019). A hard copy of the MIFAS was sent out in 2017 and 7019 Māori completed the survey. We (the authors) resent the MIFAS survey via email and online during the level 4 lockdown period in New Zealand, and over 1500 Māori responded via an online version. We sent the hard copy of the MIFAS in July 2020 once level 4 lockdown was lifted and responses are still being returned by mail. This presentation discusses some of the challenges associated with survey-based research and the experiences of the researchers who currently manage the MIFAS survey. We will also outline the development of a range of new items we created for the MIFAS found two, including well-being and COVID focussed items. Māori have been found to participate in surveys at lower rates than Pakeha and other New Zealanders and are more likely to remove themselves from survey-based studies over time. The reasons for this are not entirely clear; however, it could be that the survey method itself is just unappealing to Māori. Perhaps reticence on the part of Māori may stem from a distrust of researchers due to previous negative experiences. The MIFAS is a very lengthy survey with a large number of items that require respondents to provide, in some cases, quite personal information which can be a turn off for many respondents. The wording of the items are also problematic for many. Māori have also criticised surveys at times because they wrestle complex ideas and experiences into boxes, and this is not consistent with a Māori world view which is more holistic. For many, answering questions that appear to force a choice to define oneself or respond using only one of the categories in the survey is frustrating. However, accurate portraits of the thoughts and sentiments of Māori society are not easy to come by. To comprehend mass perspectives, researchers need tools that allow us to measure attitudes, beliefs, values and views and surveys are one of these tools. This paper discusses why some items on the MIFAS are worded the way they are, the challenges of survey research with Māori and the challenges in ensuring the MIFAS data are used to benefit Māori strategically and privilege a Māori voice in quantitative research publications.

Keywords: Surveys, indigenous peoples and quantitative research, data sovereignty, psychometrics.