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methods

I approached this week’s readings with particular interest knowing that oral conversations were a huge part of the RAW mahi. Here ongoing conversation with wāhine is not only part of the therapeutic process of healing, but it also allows RAW to capture data that may assist us with the correctional change kaupapa. This data was intended to ensure that Corrections were encouraged to enable solutions of humanising and Indigenising care as outlined in their cultural agreed operational plans, Hōkai Rangi and The Women’s Strategy.
Throughout this semester I have been actively engaged in a proposal to decarcerate, that has been presented to the CE of Corrections, and now is
in the stages of a more advanced discussion. Noting that never before has it been accepted that the voice of the incarcerated wāhine has a validity in this kaupapa.
My university study that is organically playing out in the back ground, given the paper I have chosen, is inadvertently and ironically strengthening the RAW mahi. This week’s readings, from Vaioleti, Mucina and Tunufa’I, were on talanoa, a Tongan research methodology, that is arguably the most applied across the Pacific. ‘Tala’ means to tell, relate, and inform, and ‘noa’ (common or of no value), describes the informal or formal conversation that takes place in community, used to gain information on how people are feeling about things. Talanoa is used as an activity to create and transfer knowledge (Vaioleti, 2013).
This paper looks to validate talanoa as a research method and sites it alongside the other methods such as Narrative, Phenomenal, Kaupapa Māori and Feminist methods, by clarifying its characteristics to amplify its relevance and use in the Pacific. Meaning that there is a privileging of Pacific preferences in Pacific research, yielding authentic relevant and longer term benefits.

Grounded Theory; A qualitative method that enables to you to study a particular phenomenon or process and discover new theories that are based on collection and analysis of real world data.
Researchers theories on a topic are based on their data, i.e. by collecting and analysing qualitative date a researcher can construct a new theory that is GROUNDED in that data.

Qualitative Methods can be categorised in five ways;
1. Narrative: Data collected from case studies, surveys and observations.
2. Grounded theory: Theory is constructed from data obtained and analysed.
3. Case study: A research approach to generate a multi-faceted in-depth understanding of a complex issue in a real life context.
4. Phenomenological: Explains subjective experiences and meanings through written or spoken word.
5. Ethnography: A scientific description for peoples, cultures and their customs and habits.

I reflect on the many conversations that I have had with our RAW wāhine that have in fact created knowledge, that has extreme value to them and others in their cohort. The understanding of the value of this oratory knowledge through validated practices like Talanoa, is exciting.
Talanoa stems from Tongan culture where oratory and verbal negotiation have deep traditional roots and share a phenomenological approach to research, alongside grounded, naturalist and ethnological approaches (Vaioleti, 2013).
Talanoa, aligns the researchers and the participants emotional and spiritual state, and levels the power, where a participant through open dialogue and empathetic approaches, can speak from their hearts where there are no
preconceptions. Culture and protocols are understood and continue to dominate throughout the research process (Vaioleti, 2013).
I reflect on how many times I have encouraged RAW wāhine to write about their experiences, with little or no success. I now understand the impact of this request on them, and rejoice in a new understanding of an accepted, trusted and practiced method that can credibility exist between us. Ironically these ongoing conversations are a reflection of the talanoa process, in that they are heartfelt and shared in the knowledge of a safe space. The wāhine knowing that if used, they will be agreed, collaboratively constructed, and edited.
I particularly liked the reference to ‘fonua’ (that even sounds like whenua),
however, it brings a much broader meaning, to not only including land, but also world views, ways of being, language and culture, therefore the use of Talanoa requires a deep understanding of fonua.
Vaioleti also compares Talanoa to kaupapa Māori research practices, that has emancipation of knowledge as it aim, controlling the decision making process and governing the research, by developing a Māori theological and methodological base of research. This realises the importance of meaning and interpretation of people lives within a cultural context.
It is interesting to further supplement Vaioleti’s words with Tunufa’I, where Tunufa’I questions whether Talanoa is a method or a methodology or both, he also debates its Tongan origins as perhaps not making it an ideal pan Pacific approach, being inconsistent with decolonisation’s empathies on relevancy. Where Vaioleti discusses Talanoa as an appropriated pan Pacific approach, Tunufa’i , claims this approached emulated from ‘deficit’ focussed depictions on economic and social performances.
The pan Pacific approach is concerning, given meaning and interpretation across the Pacific cultures. Tunufa’u notes that only a limited number have the word Talanoa in the language, and therefore, it does not align with the decolonising agenda, as it represents another foreign approach that may not be appropriate for some Pacific nations, as a culturally aligned method of research, that privileges individual nations research preferences, to make them an authentic, relevant and able to bring about long term benefits.

Our third reading was on story as a research methodology, by Mucina, using Ubuntu storytelling practice from Africa.

Stories are the efforts to create shared interpretation structures about experience, so change has shared meaning. Oral storytelling is done with the purpose of maintaining cultural continuity, or advancing cultural directional change.

Knowledge is the codified essence of experience after communal discourse about its meaning, within a specific world view, while using specific language symbolism.

I particularly connected with the intergenerational Ubuntu physiological theories, that recognise a relational connectedness to all elements and beings on earth.

1. I am a reflection of the existence of my ancestors.
2. We come from energy flux, and we are the energy flux.
3. We respect and give thanks to all our relations.
4. We find integrity and wholeness in the balance of nature.
5. To each person, place, animal or object we ask permission.
6. Birth and death reflect the lifecycle.
7. The spirt of land and water, we honour in a special way.
8. Our traditional governance institutions are inclusive of nature as a rational decision maker.
9. We honour the dead.

History followed different courses for different peoples because of the difference between people’s environments, not because of bio-logical differences between peoples themselves. Guns, Gems and Steel; The Fate of Human Societies, Jared Diamond

The paper talks to the survival of black people, ‘we are still hear we are still strong, and still remember who we are even if only in fragments’.

I have recently watched the movie “We Are Still Here”, an artistic account of the colonised journey of Māori and Aboriginal people produced by the Australian and New Zealand Film commissions. It was with absolute distaste and disgust that I watched many of the interconnecting historical and futuristic segments that reflect the very worst of Western dehumanising behaviours against Indigenous peoples.
When attending The Tina Turner Musical, in Sydney, I was extremely uncomfortable to be reminded of the abhorrent treatment of black African people in America, the discrimination and the violence enacted by the whites and their legal institutions was unconscionable.
What I did find interesting was the absolute horror that was displayed by the audience (I have always felt Australians were a lot slower to react to racial discrimination), when one of the recording company actors used the term “old black nigger whore” I am now totally convinced this labelling will never be accepted anymore.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GapOQ_X9M2g

Black people have moved across the globe either wilfully or forcibly through slavery or colonialism, we have had to determine which of our traditional knowledge would serve us best while creating new knowledge to address new realities.

Ubantu means .. ‘I am because you are’

An Anthropologist proposed a game to kids in an African tribe. He put a basketful of fruit by a tree and told then whoever got there first won the sweet fruits. When he gave them the signal to run, they all took each other’s hands and ran together, then sat in a circle enjoying their treats. When he asked them why they chose to run as a group, when they could have more fruit individually, one child spoke up and said, UBANTU, how can one of us be happy if all the others are sad.

Storytelling in video:
Recently there has been a massive recruitment push by Corrections given the current labour shortages, as ongoing impact from the Covid-19 pandemic, and New Zealand’s closed boarders.
Corrections recruitment advertisements, put a positive slant on the process of detainment, to attract the right people into the custodial roles. Ironically knowing what I know, and having spent so much time on the inside, any recruits no matter how motivated they are to get change, will get caught up in an oppressive system of power and control that is exhibited across a large percentage of the custodial frameworks. A great example of: if we continue to do what we have always done, we will get the same result.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W6tJl97-BTg

References.

Mucina, D. D. (2011). Story as Research Methodology. AlterNative: An International Journal of Indigenous Peoples, 7(1), 1–14. https://doi.org/10.1177/117718011100700101

Vaioleti, Timote. (2013). TaLaNOa: DIffERENTIaTING ThE TaLaNOa RESEaRCh METhODOLOGy fROM PhENOMENOLOGy. NaRRaTIVE, KaUPaPa MÄORI aND fEMINIST METhODOLOGIES. Te Reo. 56. 191. : https://www.researchgate.net/publication/296707049

Tunufai, Laumua. (2016). Pacific research: Rethinking the talanoa ‘Methodology’ ResearchGate. 31. 227-239. : https://www.researchgate.net/publication/316557360

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