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As I began chapter seven (the last) of Wilson’s book, I reflect on the semester coming to a close and another 12 weeks of gradual change that I have experienced personally. I am in awe of this course of study and the way in which it has begun to shape my thinking and advance my ability to sensitively reflect on the knowledge, and the voice that I am now privileged enough to have, through the ongoing and agreed participation with RAW wāhine.
I have loved the content and the assignments that have been set within this paper, all very different in their character, and all extending me creatively and literally.

Words themselves are like music, laughter, crying, playing, dancing and other forms of expression, that have the power to heal, or harm. They can transfer information and enlighten others, but they can also be used as tools of social control and disempowerment.

As I quietly read chapter seven early one morning, knowing it is in summary, I am also in the completion and the summary stages of my reflective journal. A piece of work that I know I will refer to, again and again, as I move forward in my mahi.

You, as an active listener are responsible for putting the story into a relational context that makes sense for you, and listening with an open heart and mind.

Presently, I am capturing the stories of a diversity of RAW wāhine, to advance the correctional decarceration mahi, my writing will ensure the wāhine voices are included in this conversation. I have never been more aware of how collaborative this mahi needs to be, to deliver a valuable, purposeful, and restorative outcome. However, I also acknowledge my relationality exists as an outsider, and that I may always be seen to hold the relational power. While I continue to sit uncomfortably in this, it is difficult to believe that I will ever truly mitigate it.
I aim to ensure that all I have learnt this semester adds validity to my mahi, that there is an absolute joint ownership in the knowledge documented, and I continue to be accountable for however I use it. Knowing now that knowledge can never be owned or discovered, it is merely a set of relationships that may be given a visible form.
While I am advancing topical discussions within the RAW mahi, with no formalised questions. I have an intended focus on a specific area of interest to advance a bigger contribution to detained wāhine outcomes, as opposed to my regular relational mahi with our wāhine. This has been a huge shift in thinking for me, given the frameworks of the dominant paradigm, that directs a specific agenda through targeted questions. I now find myself in conversation where we are building on each other’s knowledge, in an joint area of interest and benefit.
Western ethical requirements will be real for us both, as I endeavour to formalise the RAW mahi to complete my dissertation next semester. Specifically in regards to the cohort of wāhine I have chosen to collaborate with. The issues of physiological distress, raising of sensitive issues, and their confidentially will all need to be addressed. My participation in their lives has been over a 10 year period, rather than the six months in which am required to complete a directed study. These are all challenges, where my relationality and accountability will need to be navigated. However, they will require a Western framework of ethics application, that may dilute the ability of the wāhine to add their strength, credibility and contribution to the conversation and ensure wāhine incarcerated after them, receive true educational and restorative benefits, that were never afforded to them.
Credibility in this mahi will require the acknowledgement of the sources of our knowledge. My role will not be to draw conclusions, it will be to share the information and connection with ideas, this will take me to the next level of my initiation.
I also note that it will be unethical to restate previous messages in our mahi, and to judge or criticise others work. Specifically relevant given the many academics that have gone before me, to advise the correctional process. Acknowledging that all ideas are ‘equally valid’ will enable my own humility, and demonstrate that I may, simply by sharing some of my relationships and revealing some of my conclusions, become miniscule part of the grand scheme of relationships.

Wilson’s words: For the storyteller to explain too much is not honour you as a listener, resonated with me.

The RAW mahi and my study has been such a big part of my growth, as I actively listen to the wāhine sharing their stories and thoughts around the correctional conversation. I have worked hard to respect their storytelling, by not simply ‘note taking’, with no real immersion in the actual story being told. To actively listen, to feel the pain, that occurs within their journey, is to internalise in a way that my notes (while useful), are not the main source of my writing, my listening experience is. The wonderful revelation is that Indigenous research paradigms have increased my cognitive abilities, given the relationality and accountability that sites this.
I have become a lot more intuitive in my methods, that in many cases, often do not reflect a pathway of conscious planning, simply a vague understanding of the direction intended and a wonderful open conversation that delivers so many insightful moments and opportunities to reflect on possible transformational change from a diversity of perspectives.
I am also aware of my gradual change, a stronger awareness of who I am, and what I am trying to achieve. There has been a strong shift in in my perception and worldview. Where I have comfortably brought all ‘my hat’s to the conversational table, entrepreneurial, social, and whanau centred, whilst acknowledging my positioning and limitations.

If you don’t know what you are capable off, then you are capable on anything!

Research is ceremony: The purpose of a ceremony is to build stronger relationships and bridge the distance between the cosmos and us.

Ngā mihi nui, Hayley, for another insightful semester of learning.

Wilson, S. (2008). Research is Ceremony: Indigenous Research Methods. Black Point, Nova Scotia. Fernwood Publishing. Ch.7.