The Whakapapa Research Project, hosted by Te Atawhai o Te Ao, aims to gather whānau narratives from eight whānau, led by a researcher from each whānau. The stories that have unfolded provide insight into the organisation, perseverance, preservation, and healing centred engagement of whānau and whakapapa over time. Methods employed by each whānau researcher allow for innovation, and the research topics are set by whānau researchers at regular hui and training workshops. Research topics include: matriarchs; connection to whenua (ancestral land); kai (food, nourishment); whāngai (customary child-rearing practices); an event-related story; taonga (a treasured item); deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and genetic codes; and methodology. Whānau researchers are free to interpret these topics in the context of their own whānau understandings and realities. Of interest are the ways in which whānau researchers engaged with their whānau and each topic, and also how whānau researchers responded to challenges that were evident within their own whānau narratives. Each research topic will be prepared for publication.
Two whānau researchers present on a range of whānau-led qualitative methods that they used across their research. These methods included research at the Māori Land Court and other depositories such as Archives New Zealand, Alexander Turnbull Library, and genealogy databases. Other methods deployed included interviewing whānau members, sharing stories, workshops, making discoveries and rediscoveries with whanau, and piecing together kōrero (narratives, stories) and information that already exists within the whānau.
Sharing their two-year research journey of their trials and tribulations, insights, and challenges that they encountered, each whānau researcher navigated and documented their whānau research journey, with an intention to deepen their knowledge on previously untouched whānau narratives. Topic selection, intent, consent, access to kōrero, research and writing for both whānau and public audiences, ethics, tikanga rangahau (culturally appropriate research practices), and putting these pieces together are but some of the learnings that will be shared. Whānau narratives will be published as a monograph, journal article, or shared through whānau wānanga. Creative narratives such as those stories told by visual aid will be publicly exhibited. The style of dissemination is determined by the whānau researcher who has a pivotal role in the research approach of the Whakapapa Research Project. The presentation contributes to Kaupapa Māori research by not only gathering whānau narratives, but furthering definitions of whānau-led research.