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Journal of Contemporary

Ethnography
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Indigenous Autoethnography: Exploring, Engaging, and


Experiencing ''Self'' as a Native Method of Inquiry
Paul Whitinui
Journal of Contemporary Ethnography 2014 43: 456 originally published online
11 December 2013
DOI: 10.1177/0891241613508148
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research-article2013

JCE43410.1177/0891241613508148Journal of Contemporary EthnographyWhitinui

Article

Indigenous
Autoethnography:
Exploring, Engaging, and
Experiencing Self as a
Native Method of Inquiry

Journal of Contemporary Ethnography


2014, Vol. 43(4) 456487
The Author(s) 2013
Reprints and permissions:
sagepub.com/journalsPermissions.nav
DOI: 10.1177/0891241613508148
jce.sagepub.com

Paul Whitinui1

Abstract
Tirohanga Whnui (Abstract): Traditional knowledge systems have been at the
core of our existence as indigenous peoples since time immemorial. As an
oral/aural-based society, our ancestors frequently engaged in opportunities
to not only test their knowledge at different times and in different situations
but also to recall knowledge through the art of story-telling. This paper
seeks to (re)position autoethnography from an indigenous perspective. This
will be achieved by referring to autoethnography as a culturally informed
research practice that is not only explicit to Mori ways of knowing but
can be readily validated and legitimated as an authentic Native method
of inquiry. Grounded within a resistance-based discourse, indigenous
autoethnography aims to address issues of social justice and to develop
social change by engaging indigenous researchers in rediscovering their own
voices as culturally liberating human-beings. Implicit in this process is also
the desire to ground ones sense of self in what remains sacred to us
as indigenous peoples in the world we live, and in the way we choose to
construct our identity, as Mori.
Keywords
indigenous autoethnography, Native inquiry, Mori, self, identity,
difference, culture
1University

of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand

Corresponding Author:
Paul Whitinui, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand.
Email: paul.whitinui@otago.ac.nz

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Whitinui

Mihimihi (Formal Greeting)


Tihei Mauri Ora
E te Atua, tn koe
E ng maunga, tn koutou
E ng awa, tn koutou
E ng Marae, tn koutou
E ng mate
Haere ki te w kinga
Haere ki te kinga tuturu o t ttou
Mtua
Haere, haere, haere atu
piti hono ttai hono
Te hunga mate ki te hunga mate
Te hunga ora ki te hunga ora
N reira, e rangatira m
Ka nui te koa, me te hari
Kua huri mai ttou i tni r
Ehara ahau i te tangata mohio ki te
krero, otir e tika ana kia mihi atu
Ko Pohue, ko Emiemi, ko Tangitu ng
maunga
Ko Puhi te tangata
Ko Taitimu te whare tpuna
Ko Mtaatua te waka
Ko Kaeo me Pupuke ng awa
Ko Whangaroa te moana
Ko Tahwai, ko Te Huia, Paparore ng
Marae
Ko Ng Phi ki Whangaroa me Te
Aupuri ng iwi
Ko Ngtiuru me Ngtikur ng hap
N Whakatne ahau, engari, kei
tepoti e noho ana
Ko Pora Whitinui ahau
N reira, tn koutou, tn koutou,
tn koutou katoa

Behold there is life


To God, greetings
To our mountainsgreetings
To our riversgreetings
To our Maraegreetings
To the dead
Go to your true home
Go to the real home of our Father
Farewell, farewell, farewell
The lines have been joined
The dead to the dead
The living to the living
Greetings, esteemed friends
I am very happy
that we have gathered today
I am not a speaker but it is right that I
should greet you
My mountains are Pohue, Emiemi, and
Tangitu
Puhi are my people
Taitimu resides memories of our
ancestors
Mtaatua is our ancestral canoe
Pupuke and Kaeo are our traditional
rivers
Whangaroa is our ocean waters
Tahwai, Te Huia, and Paparore our
traditional meeting places
I descend from the nation of Ng Phi
in the Whangaroa region and Te
Aupuri tribes
Ngtiuru and Ngtikur are my
associated tribal affiliations
I hail from Whakatne, but I now live in
Dunedin, New Zealand
My name is Paul Whitinui
Greetings one and all!11

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Tmatanga Krero (Introduction)


Indigenous autoethnography as a distinct Native2 method of inquiry
requires that as a person of Mori3 descent, I respectfully introduce who I
am (social identity) and where I am from (place identity). Similarly, and
from an indigenous epistemological approach, there exist other broader constructs and meanings associated with our essence as cultural human
beingsesoterically, metaphysically, and spiritually (Shirres 2000; Meyer
2005). Hauge (2007) describes three identity theories worthy of mention:
place-identity theory, social identity theory, and identity process theory. Such
theories invariably locate self holistically and as a reciprocal interaction
between people and the physical environment (Hauge 2007). Hauge (2007)
describes this as a transactional view of settings where variations of place
(i.e., sense of place, place attachment, place identity, place dependence, etc.)
are constantly influencing a persons perceptions, experiences, personality,
and cognition. Given the relative ease of accessing technology (i.e., computers, iPhones, iPads, mobile phones, and other virtual interactive forms of
communication) in todays world, meeting indigenous peoples face-to-face
(kanohi-ki-te-kanohi) is a culturally preferred and legitimate means of communicating, engaging, and interacting with indigenous peoples on their terms
(Hemara 2000; Mead 2003; Shirres 2000; Wilson 2009). Durie (2001b)
describes seven different kinds of whnau (family) constructs where self as
an indigenous experience can be considered and constructed differently, such
as whnau as kin (based on traditional ancestors), whnau as shareholders of
land (land held among family members), whnau as friends (different kinds
of associations outside of the immediate family), whnau-based meetings
(family meetings discussing matters specific to their needs and aspirations),
whnau as neighbours (neighbourly family members), whnau households
(income dependant families), and virtual whnau (family we rarely see).
Whnau as an indigenous construct is layered by a number of different human
interactions specific to ones place, identity, environment, and community
and influenced significantly by the cultural collective. Of particular concern
are families (and individuals within) who are disconnected, lack identity, and
are isolated and categorized as disadvantaged, underserved, and vulnerable
many of whom we know very little about (Durie 2001a). To understand how
others are affected, we must create appropriate spaces, approaches, and methods for others voices to be heard.
Discovering, exploring, coconstructing, and narrating notions of self as
an indigenous person must take into account an individuals ability to articulate meaning in relation to why their world is socially, culturally, and politically different as an indigenous person. It is, therefore, important to ask how

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valid, authentic, or sufficient are the stories we hear or seek to share and why
would anyone be interested? And what enables or engages an indigenous
person to tell their stories in ways that help others as well as themselves to
better understand the inherent complexities underpinning our uniqueness as
culturally connected human beings? As a Mori academic, my views, understandings, ideas, and understandings about indigenous autoethnography will
no doubt differ considerably to other indigenous peoples perspectives and
narratives. The history of the indigenous Mori people in Aotearoa New
Zealand is well over two thousand years old with tribal stories etched in the
landscape of a world where our ancestors lived, died, and were put to rest.
Today, our tribal meeting houses (i.e., marae) remain as testimonies to those
memories and serve as a cultural haven for those stories to be preserved and
shared for future generations (Tauroa 1984).
A key aim of this paper is to provide a space to share a process of constructing a culturally distinct method of inquiry that may readily coexist in
the fabric of other peoples lived experiences but is unique from a Mori
world view. Although there appears to be an inherent lack of knowing how to
frame self as an indigenous qualitative method of inquiry, many Mori
researchers in AotearoaNew Zealand24 are actively defining what research
should look like from an indigenous world view and how new knowledge is
created, critiqued, and shared (Jones and Jenkins 2008a). Coming to know
the other as indigenous is a challenging task because global definitions
render us all as one coherent group of people seeking similar aspirations and
goals, typically stereotyping the other as being the same (Jones, Adams,
and Ellis 2013). The difference privileges a Native researcher as someone
who is either Native by birth (i.e., born of this place) and who can intuitively speak about the cultural nuisances associated with indigenous peoples
connection to, with, and about time, space, place, and identity. In more recent
times, autoethnography seeks to remain fresh and relevant and to build on
notions of coming out, being relevant, and creating alternative perspectives to specific complex social problems (Coffey 1999; Douglas and
Carless 2013; Ellis 2004; Jones, Adams, and Ellis 2013; Marechal 2010).
Douglas and Carlesss (2013, 93) poem titled Doing Autoethnography I
believe aptly identifies both the tension and potential inherent in engaging in
autoethnography:
Doing Autoethnography
So you read my words
Sketched on the page
And learned of entanglement
Well, here now is my flesh

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What say you, as I sing my song?


Where do you belong?
Some key questions underpinning this paper relate to the following: 1)
What does it mean to be indigenous and in particular, Mori? 2) How can
Mori as indigenous peoples collectively interpret or use notions of speaking
about self as a culturally accepted research practice to create new knowledge? 3) What are the guiding principles or ethics related to speaking about
self as an indigenous person? 4) Who am I accountable to as an indigenous
person when I choose to write about my self? 5) In what ways could an
indigenous autoethnography approach be considered useful? and 6) What is
so Native about indigenous autoethnography that deserves to be told?
These questions are not meant to be an exhaustive list, but rather, to argue for
the importance of considering indigenous autoethnography as another preferred Native method of inquiry. Linda Tuhiwai Smith (1999, 93) contends
that
engaging in a discussion about research as an indigenous issue has been about
finding a voice, or a way of finding a voice, or a way of voicing concerns,
fears, desires, aspirations, needs and questions as they relate to research. When
indigenous peoples become the researchers and not merely the researched, the
activity of research is transformed. Questions are framed differently, people
participate differently, and problems are defined differently, people participate on
different terms.

Similarly, we acknowledge that people, identity, and culture construct


experiences very differently and that to engage with/in culture as socially
interested activists is to critique the dominant values of society and to resist
ideologies that limit our ability to participate fully as tangata whenua (people
of this land) and in all other areas of society (Smith 1999). Understanding and
explaining the nature of our own cultural encounter, and as a form of cultural and critical consciousness, is to actively free ourselves from the more
dominant forms of objectivity (Heshusius 1994). Charles Royal (2009a)
argues that the gift of indigeneity lies in our ability to rediscover and recenter our culture from within as opposed to relying solely on externally codified forms of knowledge that are often devoid of our own ways of knowing
and doing. The journey is deeply necessary toward enabling an individual
to spend time reflecting on their own cultural intellectual wisdom and to support individuals to recalibrate ones own inner as well as collective cultural
potential (Royal 2009a). The collective refers to our innate cultural connectedness grounded in what indigenous peoples do together as a whnau

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(immediate family), hap (sub-tribe), and iwi (tribe).35 Seeking an alternative


method that extrapolates how we as indigenous peoples see ourselves, as
individuals in the wider world, is therefore equally important.
The purpose of this article is to preface indigenous autoethnography as a
culturally distinctive way of coming to know who we are as indigenous peoples within the research agenda. The difference privileges a Native
researcher as someone who is either Native by birth (i.e., indigenous) or who
can connect genealogically to someone who is Native and can intimately
speak about the cultural underlays/overlays associated with time, space,
place, and identity. Autoethnography, as the dominant discourse, has become
a widely accepted method of inquiry that is grounded in an interpretive paradigm and designed to construct wider cultural, political, and social meanings
and understandings (Marechal 2010; Ellis 2004; Coffey 1999) but at times
lack a certain esoterically, metaphysical, and w(holistic) edge specific to an
indigenous reality (Ellis and Bochner 2003; Houston 2007; Jones and Jenkins
2008a; Shirres 2000; Kapa 2009).

Tingoa Tangata (The Rise of Autoethnography:


InsiderOutsider Debate)
Autoethnography has been around for at least three decades and emerged
through anthropologists notions of cultural studies where Hayanos work
considered being a full insider by virtue of being a Native. Hayanos
(1979) paper, titled Autoethnography: Paradigms, Problems, and Prospects,
positions autoethnography as somewhat different and determined by anthropologists (i.e., intimate familiarity with those who are Native) or sociologists (i.e., who have become formally or informally socialized with a
particular group of Natives) who consistently privilege their insideroutsider status (Hayano 1979). Applications of autoethnography by Ellis and
Bochner (2006) considered the following positions as being synonymous
with the following approaches:
The personal story matters;
autobiographical in nature;
focuses outward on the social and cultural aspects of ones personal
experiences;
focuses inward exposing a vulnerable self that is moved by various experiences and therefore may express certain emotions;
reflective in that it moves back and forth displaying multiple layers of
consciousness using first person, where they themselves are dialectically revealed through action, feeling, thought, and language;

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provides a source of verisimilitude or a quality of seeming to be true or


relatable;
personal is both cultural and political.
Freeman (1997) also argued that
through narrative, that one is in a position to survey the whole that is ones life, and
it is only through such a survey that there exists the possibility of obtaining the
truth about that life, indefinite and ungraspable though it is. (cited in Bochner
2001, 151)

Similarly, a chapter by Ellis and Bochner (2003, 733) titled Autoethnography,


Personal Narrative, Reflexivity: Researcher as Subject asked, how important
is it to make the researchers own experience a topic of investigation in its own
right. In this instance, using a systematic sociological introspection and emotional recall to understand ones personal experience as stories, more so than
mere essays, is considered a far more meaningful way to understand and (re)
connect with people and the world they live within (Bochner 2001; Ellis and
Bochner 2003). In addition, Ellis and Bochner (cited in Denzin and Lincoln
2000, 73940) identified with a number of alternative methods of engaging
self, including narratives of self (Richardson 1994); personal experience
narratives, or self-stories (Denzin 1989); first-person accounts (Ellis 1998);
personal essays (Krieger 1991); ethnographic short stories (Ellis 1995); writing
stories (Richardson 1997); complete member research (Alder and Alder 1987);
auto-observation (Alder and Alder 1994); opportunistic research (Riemer
1977); personal ethnography (Crawford 1996); literary tales (Van Maanen
1988); lived experience (Van Maanen 1995); radical empiricism (Jackson
1989); socioautobiography (Zola 1982); autopathography (Hawkins 1993);
evocative narrative (Bochner, Ellis, and Tillmann-Healy 1997); personal writing (DeVault 1997); reflective ethnography (Ellis and Bochner 1996); confessional tales (Van Maanen 1998); ethnographic memoirs (Tedlock 1991);
ethnobiography (Lejeune 1989); autobiology (Payne 1996); collaborative autobiography (Brandes, 1982); emotionalism (Gubrium and Holstein 1997); experiential texts (Denzin 1997); narrative ethnography (Abu-Lughod 1993);
autobiographical ethnography (Reed- Danabay 1997); ethnographic poetics
(Marcus and Fischer 1986); Native ethnography (Obnuki-Tierney 1884);
indigenous ethnography (Gonzalez and Krizek 1994); and ethnic autobiography (Reed-Danabay 1997). Many of the examples cited by Ellis and Bochner
(2000) demonstrate the depth of coming to know the self as a moral high
ground within a western paradigm. Notions of being indigenous or indeed
Native are rarely (re)claimed within the process of what counts as

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ethnography because the ideologies of knowing and how we come to know


privy more so the observers account of lived experience within a global construct as to opposed to a seamless web of indigenous interactions.
Laurel Richardson (2003) argues that writing is a process of self-discovery and that writers have to 1) write as a way of learning more about yourself
and your topic with an emphasis on showing more than telling and 2) as a
method of discovery and analysis, in that, by writing in different ways we
discover new aspects of our topic and more importantly our relationship to it;
each are mutually inclusive, not mutually exclusive. The evocative nature of
autoethnography is, as Richardson describes, highly personalized revealing
ones own texts, stories, lived experiences, and narratives. They are, however,
actual real events that authors have encountered that are duly staged by fleshing out characters, unusual phrasings, puns, subtexts, allusions, flashbacks
and flash-forwards, tone shifts, synecdoche, dialogue, and interior monologue
(Richardson 2003). Autoethnographic writing can also be considered as an
honest attempt of increasing the visibility of an authors life first-hand,
whereby locating experiences of self are subsequently interpreted socially,
culturally, and politically (Coffey 1999). This attempt addresses the problem
of speaking about the Other by reclaiming ones self in the text, but it does
not necessarily address how we come to know what it means to be indigenous
or explain what it means to be indigenous from within.
In 2001, my Masters dissertation titled Growing Up: My Search for
Identity in the Sporting Experience described my personal sporting endeavors with regards to how sport contributed, both socially and culturally, to my
identity as an indigenous Mori male. The experiences of playing sport were
not just about striving to become a better athlete, fitting in or trying to win, the
experiences also revealed how sport, though considered a safe place to reside,
actually masked my search for identity (Whitinui 2001). Expression of guilt,
low confidence and self-esteem, lack of belonging and trust, as a result of various social and societal pressures (i.e., family, school, lower socioeconomic
conditions) were rarely understood by others, least of all by me. In the wider
New Zealand context, participating in sport was considered a positive and
accepted part of growing up as a New Zealand teenager. It also supported
the stereotypical view of building boys into men to enable them to contribute positively to society. From a personal standpoint, and despite all the good
times I experienced playing sport, once I stopped playing competitive sport,
issues underpinning Who am I emerged more frequently.
My limited self-awareness and understanding about my identity coupled
with a lack of understanding about my indigenous language and culture
revealed my lack of knowledge, knowing and understanding what being Mori
actually meant. Exploring the interrelationality between sport, identity, and

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culture from my own personal experiences often asked me to mask my identity


as Mori (Whitinui 2001). Values such as whakawhanaungatanga (positive
relationships), tama toa (being strong in times of adversity), manaakitanga
(looking after others), papa kinga (positive home environment), nohoanga
tangata (community connectedness), whakaaro tahi (interactions), tohungatanga (relevant skills and expertise), whnau (family connectedness), wairua
(spiritual connectedness), hinengaro (positive thoughts and feelings), tinana
(physical capability and well-being), mtauranga (relevant knowledge), and
ehoa m (positive friends) were all around me, but not within, because my
primary focus while growing up was on playing sport (Whitinui 2001).
Being able to reflect upon, describe, and explain these sporting experiences
using autoethnography constructed a better personal understanding about how
the institution and systemic role of sport co-opted and negotiated my identity
as a Mori male (Whitinui 2001). Today there are a number of indigenous
scholars engaged in using indigenous autoethnography as a tool to challenge
misconceptions of others about their identity as indigenous peopleshistorically, socially, and politically (Houston 2007; Tomaseli, Dyll, and Francis
2008). However, informed seemingly by a number of critical and indigenous
discourses (Denzin, Lincoln, and Smith 2008), a number of indigenous
researchers have argued for a new way of communicating how indigenous
peoples see the world from their own world view (Battiste 2005; Martinez
2008; Meyer 2005; Smith 1999; Wilson 2009). Alternatively, exploring or
expressing self has been described by some as narcissistic and an overindulgence in personifying everything as opposed to unpacking how knowledge
about self is structured and produced (i.e., post-structural discourses). This
is not to say there is an eitheror way of speaking and engaging about self
as an indigenous person, but it does imply that knowledge and knowing self
has in some way been influenced from within existing social contexts, structures, and environments over time and should not be overlooked.

Te Anake Kupumahi (The Universal Singular)


Interpretive interactionism assumes that every human being is a universal
singular and that no individual is ever just an individual (Denzin 1989).
Nevertheless, every human person must be studied as a single instance of
more universal social experiences and social processes (Sarte 1981). The person, Sartre (1981, ix) states, is summed up and for this reason is universalized by his epoch, he in turn resumes it by reproducing himself as a
singularity. In other words, every person is like every other person but like
no other person; and that all interpretative studies are in some way biographical and historical that surrounds the subjects life experiences (Denzin 1989,

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19). Such positions also relate to what Denzin (1989) refers to as the universal singular defined by Jean-Paul Sartre (1981, 19) as follows:
Universal singulars are individuals who are a single instance of more universal
social experiences and social processes. This approach recognises that all
interpretative studies are biographical and historical. They are always fitted to the
historical moment that surrounds the subjects life experiences.

The idea of the universal singular from an indigenous perspective is not


novel concept; however, telling our stories is not necessarily the same as
how others tell or interpret their own stories. Stories for and about Mori
people often emerge from a genealogy of relationships concerning love,
hardships, humor, struggle, war, and lived experiences. They are also about
the interconnectedness between whnau, hap, and iwi, and between all living organismspast, present, and futureand the meanings that come from
those interactions (Jackson 2008). For example, A person may die but then
someone else is born, so the whakapapa continues in the process of neverending beginnings, explains Jackson (2008, 27). Similarly, using Once
upon a time . . . is a matter of perception because not only do all cultures
define time differently, they also see time differently. Inferred are the threads
of finding ones own understanding in these new beginnings and cherishing
what Jackson (2008) refers to, as our own intellectual tradition whereby we
invent new ways of knowing through new beginnings. Implicit in this coming
to know is the overarching ethical question, Why do I need to know and who
deserves to know? By engaging in the (re)validation of being who we say
we are as Mori, we also seek to legitimate our stories through a process of
self-determination that is both liberating and empowering.
Indeed, to tell my story let alone show what I want to share as an
indigenous person, requires a deep sense of appreciation for the diversity of
indigenous peoples world views, moral codes, and culture (Rachels and
Rachels 2010). Therefore, indigenous autoethnography seeks to resist the
more dominant ideologies by deconstructing and reconstructing various historical accounts. It also seeks clarity, socially and culturally, by constructing
and materializing a new reality to protect who we are and why we are who we
say we are (Jones and Jenkins 2008a).

No Wai Krero Taute? (Whose Story Counts?)


At the age of six years, others knew me perhaps better than I knew myself and
as I developed into my teenage years I became rather introverted, shy, and
aloof. In some circles, I was considered a person not to be trusted and a bit of

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a trouble-maker. Why? Because I often walked around with a rather sly smile
on my face appearing to know things others didnt, which made others feel
rather uneasy. Unbeknownst to my peers, questions about who I am and
where do I fit in this world were often at the forefront of my mind but were
not being answered. Moreover, I was consistently seeking an understanding
about my identity being Mori, which was often superseded by my inner need
to enjoy life, play sport, keep out of harms way, and to be happy. Having
spent such a long time in the sporting culture, the question of what constitutes
a Native story and how we discern what a Native way of knowing self
is became more pronounced. It effectively required me to delink myself from
a whole host of dominant discourses and to spend more time reflecting on
what constitutes being an indigenous Mori human being. For example, what
we hear, see, feel/sense, taste, and touch although typical of our everyday
lives (and based on our own level of knowing and associations with family,
land, culture, language, and traditions) required an intuitional cultural reframing. Therefore, how we choose to start a story is not only an important
determinant in how we place ourselves within, it also dependent upon how
we really see ourselves in the world we liveasking ourselves the following
questions:
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

Who am I and where am I from?


How well do I know myself as being an indigenous person?
What do I believe in as an indigenous person?
What angers me or lifts my spirits as an indigenous person?
What are the rules of conduct I set for myself as I make my way in the
world and how do these rules relate to who I am as an indigenous
person?
6. What am I willing to defend as an indigenous person and what lengths
am I willing to go to defend it?
Answers to these questions from an indigenous world view are intended to
highlight some of the critical themes or values we are likely to hold about
ourselves and those we interact with. Indeed, to talk about an ethnographic
self as a Native inquiry method is to also consider blending Te Ao Mori
(The World of Mori) alongside Western knowledge constructs (Macfarlane,
Blampied, and Macfarlane 2011). Macfarlane, Blampied, and Macfarlane
(2011, 12) states that
content cannot be considered without regard for context, as context provides the
ecology wherein people exercise their individuality within a set of social relations
and responsibilities. Thus throughout a blended process . . . oral and written,

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indigenous-grounded and science-groundedinforms and guides the professional


practice (or research). When these contributing factors manifest, a synergetic
momentum is likely to occur, a momentum that drives the process forward, like a
waka (canoe) upon the water.

Indigenous autoethnography by its very definition asks us to consider


epistemological perspectives equally and to draw together self (auto), ethno
(nation), and graphy (writing). It also asks researchers interested in this
method to consider their own level of connectedness to space, place, time,
and culture as a way of (re)claiming, (re)storing, (re)writing, and (re)patriating our own lived realities as indigenous peoples. In many instances, merely
telling our stories is not sufficient; we must also be prepared to show how
stories are lived in authentically as well as meaningfully ways.
It wasnt long ago that the lone ethnographer rode into the sunset in search
of his Native. After undergoing a series of trials, he encountered the object
of his quest in a distant land. There he underwent his rite of passage by enduring the ultimate ordeal of field work. After collecting the data, the lone
ethnographer returned home and wrote a true account of the culture
(Rosaldo 1989). Similarly, Chimamanda Adichies (2009) TED (Technology
Entertainment Design 2009) presentation entitled Danger of a Single Story
reminds us that being exposed to a single story is very dangerous, and that
weve got to open ourselves up to balanced stories in order to get a grasp of
the world around us. Telling stories of living in a world that makes grave
assumptions about ones culture, ability to communicate, write, think, feel,
including social circumstances, can be very dangerous.
Our lives and our cultures are composed of overlapping stories. Inherent in
every story is the desire to find ones authentic voice, but if we only hear a
single story about another person or country, we risk a critical misunderstanding of being able to truly relate to another persons story because we have no
experience or connection to that persons life. Finding truth in a single story
therefore requires that we are careful of judging specific contexts or using
approaches that are only indicative of equating measures that are then rationalized as a form of social and cultural criteria (Smith 1984). Alternatively, we
cannot assume that one persons story is enough to crystalize, predict, or influence the necessary or sustainable change we often seek in telling our stories
culturally and/or politically. Rather, we must conjure cultural criticism, produce
new social parameters, and reveal new sociological subjects (Clough 2000).
Prentice (2003) suggests that telling our stories is a respectable way of
engaging with our realities and creates new truths of coming to know ourselves in our world. The Persian poet and philosopher Mowlana Jalaluddin
Rumi once said, How many words the world contains! But all have one

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meaning. When you smash the jugs, the water is one. Coming to know self
is something we all share, but how we do this requires cultures and society to
willingly accept difference(s) in race, ethnicity, gender, age, and knowledge.

Mahi tetenga (Indigenous Autoethnography as a


Resistance Discourse)
Traditionally, authoethnography was commonly referred to as the insider
ethnography, a qualitative research method whereby a researcher uses participant observation and interviews in order to gain a deeper understanding of a
groups culturein that autoethnography focuses more on the writers subjective experience rather than the beliefs and practices of others (Hayano 1979).
Autoethnography is commonly referred to as the insider ethnographya
qualitative research method in which a researcher uses participant observation
and interviews in order to gain a deeper understanding of a groups culture
in that autoethnography focuses on the writers subjective experience rather
than the beliefs and practices of others (Hayano 1979). Autoethnography is
now widely used (though controversial) in performance studies, the sociology
of new media, novels, journalism, and communication, and applied fields such
as management studies, consumerism, nursing, counseling, psychology, etc.,
because it elicits the following ethical and epistemological positions:
1. Truth likeness or trust worthiness refers to what makes what we do or
who we are authenticate or believable (Mead 2003);
2. Counterhegemonic discourse aims to resist colonial or Eurocentric
ways of knowingbased on critical pedagogy (Henry Giroux and
Paulo Freire), organic intellectual (Antonio Gramsci), as well as communicative rationale (Jrgen Habermas) that asks the critical questions such as what is the answer and why do we think or do what we
do (Smith 1997);
3. Indigenous peoples want greater access to methods/approaches of
inquiry that are more closely aligned to their ways of knowing, doing,
and being. For example, oral life histories, poetry, motifs, art, performance, and performativity (the enactment of speech, the norms,
nuances, and nature of language used to tell our stories) (Butler 1997);
4. We are all culturally connected human beings with our own ways of
communicating what we think, know, understand, and experience
from within our own worlds (Meyer 2005);
5. Focuses on the quintessential notions of what it means to engage in
being indigenous (Denzin, Lincoln, and Smith 2008).

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Exploring self as a cultural and political valuebased method of inquiry


seeks an implicit revisioning of critical (social justice tenants) and cultural
responsive pedagogies (political and moral purposes) by enacting a resistance counterhegemonic discourse that enables indigenous peoples to narrate
our own storied lives and as it pertains to restoring a cultural balance with
others and the environment.
Sparkes (2003) acknowledges that exploring and engaging self when
using autoethnography is a consistent process of experimentation as well as a
process of breaking down often tightly secured boundaries. This, he argues,
is juxtaposed within keeping various identities and selves separate, shored up
and protected from swirling confusions we all experience in our own lives
(cited in Denison and Markula, 2003, 61). Sparkes crisis of representation (a
sign of the times in terms of conducting qualitative inquiry about self)
emerged by differentiating his own writing of self and in the process of
privileging rigor over imagination, intellect over feelings, theories over stories, and abstract ideas over concrete ones (Sparkes 2003). Seemingly, a form
of conscious and critical praxis emerges from within to allow the ordinary
experiential self to emerge as aware, engaged, and empowered.

Mahi Rangahau Mori (Researching Being Mori)


From an indigenous perspective, being born Mori is not a choice but
rather an innate cultural marker that aligns my way of life specific to living in
Aotearoa, New Zealand. Being Mori is considered a gift, in that, as Mori,
Papa-t--nuku (Earth Mother) and Ranginui (Sky Father) provides an indigenous symbolic interaction of connecting the esoteric world with the metaphysical world, and to ourselves as human beings.
Our history lays claim to Tne-nui--rangi, who as one of the seventy-two
children of Papa-t--nuku and Ranginui, was responsible for creating the life
principle of humankind and as a result brought forth our first known woman,
Hine-ahu-one. Tne and Hine-ahu-one later gave birth to Hine-t-tama whereby
subsequent children were to follow (Robinson 2005). From various historical
records, Mori people first arrived in Aotearoa New Zealand around ad 900
and returned to numerous destinations in the Pacific (Walker 1990; Davidson
1992). Through indigenous peoples oral life histories and whakapapa (genealogy), it was revealed that Mori did not all arrive at the same time as certain
anthropologists and historians claim (i.e., Percy Smith, Elsdon Best, and John
White); nor did Mori arrive perilously, famished, or by chance, as various
displays of art depict. Rather, early Mori were considered excellent seafaring
navigators and explorers and were well equipped to endure and traverse long
distances at sea (Evans 1997). The time spent crossing the vast oceans also

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propagated stronger social and cultural kinships, in that, it was not unusual for
Mori to share stories, songs, whakapapa (genealogy links), and to strategically plan how best to proceed upon arrival. In many ways, early Mori were
visionaries and practiced for generations the art of tohungaism (i.e., ancient
and scared ways of enacting customary practices) and shared specific expertise and crafts beneficial for the collective (Robinson 2005).
Interestingly enough, being Mori today is not merely about what we do
that makes us distinct to other indigenous peoples or indeed, non-Mori, but
as Durie (2010) suggests, there is an innate need to focus more on our ability
to more cooperatively advance our community and cultural aspirations within
both the world of Mori (Te Ao Mori) and as citizens of the wider world
(Te Ao Whnui). From this perspective, many Mori are ever-mindful of the
changing nature of the world and our role as kaitiaki (i.e., guardians of the
land). Not only do Mori consistently acknowledge the past, we also seek to
construct ways to increase our visibility, socially, culturally, economically,
and politically (Durie 2010). Paradoxically, Mori as the major Treaty (i.e.,
signed between Mori and the British on February 6, 1840) partners not only
look to self-determine our future as Mori but also to engage how we as a
country move forward as one nation.
In the search for understanding of who we as Mori and being able to
reconnect who we are to our traditional ways of knowing helps to explain why
we think, feel, and act as we do. Indeed Mori, like many other indigenous
peoples, are not immune to new forms of global colonization. Today, Mori as
diverse indigenous communities are likely to live a more contemporary and
urban lifestyle, live away from their turangawaewae (i.e., traditional homelands), marae (traditional meeting houses), and whenua (i.e., family land), and
less likely to be fully engaged in learning and practising their language,
tikanga (customary practices), and kawa (customary protocols). Similarly, the
nature of whnau (extended family) has significantly changed from one that
was strongly based on a kinship system to one that is actively engaging crossculturally, both here and abroad, and alongside many different cultures (Durie
2001b). In addition, these sorts of trends also reflect the typical day-to-day
experiences many Mori encounter in modern times. Perhaps of greater
importance is that actually understanding these different kinds of experiences
and, in particular, how individuals reflect on their own unique lives as Mori
is less obvious. Certainly, there is no one universal way we as Mori live our
lives, nor is there any one model, perspective, or framework that can successfully align all Mori as being the same. Rather, we as Mori continue to create
innovative and alternative methods of looking at the world and our place
within. As a Native researcher, validation is determined by a researchers
background and tribal group membership (Hayano 1979). Locating self as a

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Native researcher is a deeply personal one, whereby culture, as part of ones


journey in life, is framed by our own perceptions and experiences. Over the
past twenty years, Kaupapa Mori research has become a culturally relevant
and integral approach to interrogating the methods we use as both Mori and
indigenous researchers (Bishop 1995, 1997, 1998b, 2005; Pihama, Cram, and
Walker 2002; Smith 1997; Smith 1996, 1999, 2005).

Mahi Kaupapa Mori ((Re)positioning of Kaupapa


Mori Theorizing)
Over the past twenty-five years, there has been a steady increase in the number
of Mori researchers attaining either a masters or PhD qualification (Ng Pae
o te Maramtanga 2010). As a result, research that reflects a Mori world view
that is inclusive of ways we engage in coming to know are more prevalent;
and in a time of much economic uncertainty, eagerly sought. For example, a
hui (Mori gathering) process is about bringing people together for a common purpose and is a distinct way of engaging people to make decisions collaboratively for the benefit of the tribe (Bishop 1998a). More often than not,
however, Mori-based research has been viewed by Mori people with unenviable suspicion and at times even resentment, because there is a notion that
research is more about Mori as opposed to working with Mori.
Today, new forms of critical and indigenous methods have emerged to
counter the continual misrepresentation, misuse, and misappropriation of
indigenous knowledge (Denzin, Lincoln, and Smith 2008). Smith (1997) for
example employs a Kaupapa Mori methodology as an intervention strategy
to reflect the Mori experience in research more as a war of position. From
this position, such an intervention requires that Mori engage in western discourses using the resistive notions of conscientization, resistance, and transformative praxis (Freire 1972) to highlight how systemic or structural power
continues to deny Mori access to their rights to self-determination in all
areas of society (Smith 1997). Grappling with these sorts of transformational
ideas also suggest that the politics of liberating forms of research must begin
with the desires, aspirations, and dreams of those individuals and groups who
have been excluded by the larger ideological, economic, and political forces
that govern our society (Denzin and Lincoln 2000). For example, the development of cultural studies has often been defined through its analysis of culture
and power, by expanding its critical reading to analyze how power informs
issues of race, gender, class, ethnicity, and other social formations. Although
the questions posed within this discipline identify who produces, regulates, or
engages in the social struggle, the failure to empower indigenous peoples to
elf-determine their own futures remains glaringly apparent (Smith 1997).

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Indigenous autoethnography in one sense encapsulates both western and


indigenous forms of knowing, yet in some ways neither of them. From a Mori
world view, the question of what counts as Mori knowledge often remains an
abstract idea, where we apply a strategy or approach (e.g., kaupapa Mori) and
then through our own association with mainstream academic institutions apply
it naively to a western or colonial and postcolonial paradigms, such as sociology
or anthropology. Smith (1999, 119) argues that research has been inextricably
linked to European imperialism and colonialism because imperialism frames the
indigenous experience. As a response, indigenous peoples must respond by
reclaiming our own research agendas by repatriating our cultural thinking,
knowledge, and knowing. From a western perspective, Guba and Lincoln (1994)
presented the notion of competing paradigms, where quantitative scientists
were considered relatively disinterested in peoples experiences and were
inclined to act more as objective informers to various decision- and policy-making endeavors. At this level, an individuals voice becomes more like conventional benchmarks of positivistic rigor where the laws of science prevail and
continue as the dominant discourse. Over time and with a growing level of critical and cultural conscious engagement within the academy and from within our
own communities, new discourses have emerged that give voice and validity
to those previously omitted (Guba and Lincoln 1994).
Charles Royal (1998a) during his time working at Te Wnanga-o-Raukawa
(Mori-based tertiary institution in Aotearoa, New Zealand) as Director of
Graduate Studies proposed a new research paradigm called Te Ao Mrama
(i.e., The World of Enlightenment as a new paradigm). The process, though considered in its infant stage, asked the question, Which comes first, knowledge of
a phenomenon or the experience of a phenomenon? Similarly, can we really
know a phenomenon if we have not experienced it? Or can we really experience
a phenomenon if we have no knowledge of it? Royal (1998a) suggests there is
much to discuss on these questions alone but more importantly, without an
appropriate methodology how can new knowledge even emerge. A key position
(Royal 1998a) is that new knowledge must also be aligned with a method that is
centered within a Mori world view, whereby the past informs the present and
the present helps to navigate our future. In this example, whakapapa (genealogy)
is used as an analytical tool traditionally employed to help understand the nature,
origin, connections, and trends related to a particular phenomenonas an
organic process. Within this field of study, the whakapapa (genealogy) tool elicits certain values and beliefs that can be answered from many different positions
and contributes more coherently to understanding Te Ao Mrama (our reality).
According to Royal (1998a, 83-84), Te Ao Mrama perpetuates six key
concepts: rangatiratanga (ability to bind [ranga] groups [tira] together),
manaakitanga (ability to mutually express mana toward each other),

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whnaungatanga (ability to denote the interconnectedness of all things), tohungatanga (ability to practice the art of interpreting various skills and expertise),
ukaip (ability to locate self in spaces and places that nourish our existence),
and kotahitanga (ability to recognize unity in all things in the world). Creating
knowledge and coming to know from this position is more about internalized
ways of knowing (self) and driven by the quality (i.e., lived or learnt experiences) of ones inner wisdom, consciousness, and passionate participation
(Royal 2009a). The question, therefore, of how as Mori do we locate ourselves within the research agenda often becomes one of considering ideas about
our experiences from either an ethical or moral relationship standpoint
(Bishop 2005; Royal 1998a, 1998b, 2009a; Smith 1997; Smith 1999).
The location of self in the research agenda is therefore contestable within
and across a wide range of social science disciplines, including anthropology,
sociology, psychology, philosophy, political science, economics, and history.
Therefore, establishing an inquiry method that is specifically about how indigenous peoples make sense of self requires an interdisciplinary approach
because as indigenous peoples we intersect or cross a number of discipline
boundaries. Each discipline in itself represents a cultural response to self and,
therefore, must equally inform to some degree who we are as tangata whenua
Mori (people of the land) in todays society. In the same vein, self represented as a Mori in a mainstream research context has been highly problematic
because of the value of how others see us within the research agenda. Indeed,
one of the most significant problems of conducting research for, with, and about
Mori has been the inability for the research(ers) to acknowledge Mori as being
able to self-determine what knowledge means for us as a people (Smith 1999).
It is within this very notion that indigenous peoples across the globe have had to
work tirelessly to survive. Re-creating new realities under the gaze of territorial
validity (Jones and Jenkins 2008a, 2008b) where tribal consensus determines
what counts as knowledge posits a post-structural means of reinterpreting our
past. The four directions (i.e., decolonization, healing, transformation, and
mobilization) as well as the four conditions of being (i.e., survival, recovery,
development, and self-determination) offer some direction in how everyone
can contribute to the futures of indigenous peoples (Durie 2010).
Linda Tuhiwai Smith (1999, 11617) suggests that enabling Mori and
indigenous peoples to (re)claim, (re)connect, and (re)align their own existence
in a modern world today is necessary in helping to strengthen community and
whnau resilience. Resilience is also about the ability of the individual to
cope, manage, and bounce back in times of crisis, dislocation, grief, loss, hardship, and trauma. This can also relate to a loss of identity, self, and culture
within a world focused on material wealth and societal regulation. Revealing
self as a portal to expressing inner wisdom is not an easy concept to

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understand or practice. Nevertheless, the opportunity for an individual to


express self in a creative, empowering, and personally satisfying manner can
foster the sharing of intellectual wisdom that can help to illuminate inner
wisdom.
In the world of Mori, we often refer to this form of expression as mana
(integrity), in that not only is everyone born with mana, everyone has the
right to express mana as well as the responsibility to care for mana. A
literal definition of mana is that it refers to ones ability to express integrity,
respect, and love at the highest level; similarly, mana is also something we
learn to appreciate and develop from within. From this position we can either
enhance or diminish our mana depending on how we choose to express
ourselves (Royal 2009b). Indigenous researchers are consistently working to
know more about themselves and to protect their mana. For example, it
is not uncommon for many indigenous researchers to engage in framing their
research using an indigenous methodology (e.g., Kaupapa Mori) and to validate their research as being informed by indigenous peoples. However,
understanding peoples lived and learnt experiences, such conventional
methods may not always fit when exploring or examining an indigenous persons single life. Richer and deeper descriptions about an individuals perceptions or experiences must be outside a researchers primary need to merely
gather information about people and to make comparisons related to cause
and effect. It requires a deep appreciation for an individuals core cultural and
social essence of how they see themselves in the world they live and why.
Positioning ourselves as Mori with/in the research agenda requires an
understanding that the self is a reflection of the collective as we are always
influenced by a myriad of social and cultural engagements and interactions
(Eketone 2008). However, writing an autoethnographic account may be considered as whakahh (vain, conceited, arrogant, opinionated, and officious)
because it appears on the surface to consider ones own individual view of the
world exclusive of the collective. Furthermore, many Mori researchers may
well avoid talking about their own personal experiences because questions
about who do you represent when we speak about self is highly contestable within and across different tribal contexts or settings.
Manning (2010, 11819) argues that the body is always more than one and
is consistently active in experiencing moments, objects, associations, creations, feelings, expressions, even life in the now-ness and that the body is
infinitely creating opportunities to engage the actual with the virtual.
From this perspective, life expresses the individuals feelings as a collective
web of bodies-becoming across life and in the journey of ones being
becoming that can never be resolved individually (Manning 2010). Similarly,
Ricoeur (2010, xx) reminds us that even when one speaks of ones self, one

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cannot subsist from discovering the Other in ones self . . . for it is only
when we translate our own wounds into our own language of strangers and
retranslate the wounds of strangers into our own language that healing and
reconciliation can take place. The world is a made up of a plurality of human
beings, cultures, and tongues. The task of translating these interactions is an
endless one in that humanity exists in the plural mode, and under the guise
of plurality, language operates as a peculiar human trait. In many ways, the
idea of translating self is actually the act of taking up and letting go, of
expressing ones self and welcoming others instills a sense of hope toward
working to understand the many nuances of human life (Ricoeur 2007).
Joness (2010, 60) reflections on Paul Riceours account of narrative identity also suggests that conceiving of life as a narrative unity gives us a narrative identity which provides the response to the all-important question Who
am I? which must be posed and answered in order that we may then ask, How
should I live? Self-hood is achieved via a deep connection to all that one has
experiencedpositively or negatively, and assigned to an inner belief that life
will, in some way, be much better once one departs. In 2011 and 2012, the
AERA (American Educational Research Association) themes Inciting the
Social Imagination (New Orleans, Louisiana) as well as To Know Is Not
Enough (British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada) provided the space to recognize the contribution indigenous peoples knowledge has made to addressing
some of the ongoing problems, challenges and issues facing many educators
today. Although, not readily acknowledged in many of the sessions I attended
at both conferences, autoethnographic accounts were being readily shared and
applied via stories, narratives, autobiographies, critical race testimonies, and
oral histories. The preservation of self and fostering the continual narrative of
self allowed individual voices to speak about what we dont know about
indigenous students, and how stories actually create the dialectic space to better
understand indigenous student ways of engaging and learning. The narratives
of indigenous peoples live on in the way we honor our tupuna (ancestors), their
lands, their values, their spirit, and their vision. To locate ones self as a
Native Mori researcher within the research is in many ways enacting the
hopes and dreams of our ancestors to continue to survive, thrive, and prosper.
As indigenous researchers, we consistently seek to undertake research that
benefits our people and our communities. Understanding cultural space, place,
boundaries, ethics, morals, language, traditions, and heritage specific to being
Native requires time. From this position, the process of recalibrating and
reprioritizing what is important to being indigenous emerges. To relocate myself as a Native Mori researcher also asks that I engage in a higher level
of critical and cultural consciousness about my role as an indigenous
researcher (Bishop 2005; Smith 1997). Moreover, knowing why and how one

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chooses to locate ones self in various and specific cultural settings is an


important consideration prefacing the use of an indigenous autoethnographic
method of inquiry.

Mahi Tangata Whenua (Locating Self as a


Native Mori Researcher)
In my previous role as a postgraduate coordinator, I have encouraged many
postgraduate students to include in their writing(s) something that connects
their research to who they are and how their research relates to their place
in the world. The first question I often encounter is Do you mean something about who I am or, something about me that relates to my research?
Both questions seek to empower students to validate who they are within
their research and, second, to become authors of their own destiny by constructing meaning about self that relates to people, place, and power
(Manning 2009). Indigenous peoples have a history of struggle through the
process of colonization and have much to contribute in what we dont know
about indigenous peoples human behavior, endeavor, and resilience.
From a personal perspective, the question Who I am? is just as important as how the research will benefit the collectivepower sharing of self
as opposed to only being concerned about ones own self-interest (Bishop
2005). These questions, who you are and how your research relates to
your place in the world, propose an ethical and moral responsibility that
enables indigenous peoples to tell their own stories and to be ever mindful of
the multiple sites of struggle shaping ones indigenous self. Historically,
research for many indigenous peoples has been a dirty word (Smith 1999);
however, the benefit of (re)engaging in cultural sites or scared spaces has
enabled indigenous peoples to rewrite their history and to reclaim an indigenous world view by reflecting on some fundamental questions:
Who am I?
Why am I here?
Who are we?
What is real?
What is knowledge?
How may knowledge be applied usefully?
How is knowledge transmitted?
Who has access to certain knowledge?
How does one interpret knowledge?
With whom do I belong and share such perspectives?

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Linda Tuhiwai Smiths (1998) keynote address at the Te Oru Rangahau:


Mori Research and Development Conference titled Towards the New
Millennium: International Issues and Projects in Indigenous Research
included examples, experiences, and events of how the adverse effects of
modern forms of imperialism (i.e., neoliberalism, globalization, privatization, and user-pays) of the mid-1980s adversely affected the Mori labor
workforce via redundancies in the work place and restructuring processes.
Such ideas were also consistent in perpetrating the well-being of her community, and although the word I was rarely used, close to home examples explicitly inferred how the larger tribal collective, of which she remains
an integral part, had been impacted (i.e., poverty, illnesses, and underachieving). Being able to engage in the multiple sites of struggle signals a need
to engage in research that is inclusive of Mori world views, processes, and
approaches and to critically engage in the misrepresentation and misuse of
Mori identities (Smith 1998). Therefore, representing our lives within the
research agenda is to tell our own stories so that as indigenous peoples we
can self-determine our future more positively in a modern world. But how
we see ourselves is often a challenging proposition for many because it
requires individuals to unpack the many levels of colonization and to reconstruct new understandings about ones indigenous self, culture, and identity.
In this regard, indigenous autoethnography as a resistance-based discourse
is deeply concerned for addressing indigenous peoples struggles, hardships,
and challenges from culturally and politically explicit positions.

Mahi Anga Whakaaro (Creating a Native


Method: Framing Indigenous Autoethnography)
Finding culturally appropriate spaces to tell stories face to face about ourselves is no longer prevalent in contemporary society because of the many
forums in which to communicate. Similarly, from a Mori perspective,
whakatauk (sayings/proverbs) remind us that as Mori, speaking about ourselves is often regarded as whakahh (vain), for example:
Kore te kumara e whaakii ana tna reka (The kumara [sweet potato] does not say
how sweet it is);
Waiho te mihi m te tangata (Leave your praises for someone else).

Such whakatauk also illustrate the depth of understanding that highlights the
importance of listening, sharing, learning, and humility about ones knowledge
(Kana and Tamatea 2006). How, then, should an indigenous person develop a

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Native method of inquiry that allows one to speak but at the same time does
not elicit the characteristics of being whakahh. This is a challenging consideration and one that takes years of practice, poise, and patience. Questions to consider when contemplating this dilemma include the following:
When is an appropriate time to share your story?
What limitations do you place on telling your story (what do you choose
to share and what do you choose to leave out)?
Who are you telling your story to and why?
Will sharing your story about yourself bring people together?
Is there a sense of trustworthiness about your story and can people connect
with what you are saying with regards to who you are?
These questions assist also in shaping the ethical process of framing indigenous autoethnography from a Native position and include the following
guiding statements:
1. Attempts should be made to provide an air of equality as opposed
to an air of superiority by becoming a full participant in how knowledge and knowing is shaped, construed, negotiated, and included as
research;
2. Understand our own crisis of representation by searching for deeper
meanings about ones own identity, culturally, politically, socially,
and spiritually;
3. Being prepared to show, not only tell, our stories is a critical
aspect of sharing who we are as indigenous peoples.
As a result, four key attributes inform the framing of indigenous autoethnography intended to support other Native methods of inquiry (Bishop
1996, 2008; Bishop and Glynn 1999; Durie 2004, 1999; Hemara 2000;
Houston 2007; Kawagley 2001; Mead 2003; Metge 1998; Meyer 2005;
Pihama, Cram, and Walker 2002; Rangihau 1977; Royal 1998a, 2009b;
Shirres 2000; Smith 1997; Smith 1999) and include the following:
1. Ability to protect ones own uniqueness. This implies that writing
about our own storied lives moves beyond simply validating
knowledge to one of celebrating who we are as Mori. Implicit in
the ability to protect is the need to maintain who we are, including
our differences, identity, language, culture, and ways of knowing,
doing, and being.

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2. Ability to problem-solve enables an indigenous person to consider


making a number of adjustments that help to craft a story that is
well-reasoned, trustworthy and authentic. This position considers that
making adjustments is also about coming to know more about self
as it reflects being indigenous in a world that is constantly changing
and evolving. Many of our own stories relate to struggle, hardship,
loss, social justice, hope, preservation, potential, renewal, resistance,
resilience, reclamation, revitalization, reconciliation, truth, the land,
responsibility, reciprocity, and human values.
3. Ability to provide greater access to a wide range different methods, scenarios, experiences that not only support our social, cultural
and spiritual well-being as Mori, but also supports the wider indigenous collective, including whnau, iwi, hap, marae, and community. Access also relates to (re)engaging in environments that help to
self-determine, (re)connect, (re)discover or inform ways of coming to
know our identity, uniqueness and potential as Mori.
4. Ability to heal is achieved when learning about self is seen to
be critical to ones existence and survival as a collective of cultural
human beings. From this position, writing about self is considered
a culturally dynamic, creative, and powerful learning point of difference that moves toward a more universal, performance/participatory,
Native way of knowing and becoming that is relevant in todays
world (see Figure 1).

Figure 1. Framing Autoethnography as a Native Method of Inquiry.

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These four attributes are not intended to create a prescriptive way of


defining how we research identity, culture, and self as indigenous
peoples. Rather, the framework seeks to pursue an inner balance in the way
we explore, describe, connect, interpret, and share our uniqueness as indigenous peoples. The notion of replenishment suggests that as indigenous
peoples we are innately and inextricably linked to the people (tangata) and
the environment (whenua). Indeed, from a more socio-cultural and ecological position, people and the environment nourish, sustain and protect our
very existence as human beings, and through our engagement with both, we
are able to strengthen our resolve to enact the other four attributes that enable
individuals to be culturally engaged, well and balanced. The impact of each
also replenishes ones inner capacity and capability to interact socially, mentally, emotionally, and spirituallywith respect and integrity (see Figure 2).

Figure 2. Indigenous Autoethnography: A Culturally Explicit and Informed


Research Practice.

The aforementioned process is a self-reflexive and (w)holistic process


intended to construct ongoing dialogue and to (re)locate, (re)situate and (re)
construct self with/in the research agenda. Through a process of sharing,
listening, learning, and developing mutual understandings, a number of cultural insights, reflections, and learnings emerge as cultural sites of encounter
or potential that may help to repair or heal personal hardships and challenges.
The essence of indigenous autoethnography is to, therefore, present a cultural

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Whitinui

way of being captured, in the Mori words mauri t, mauri ohooho, and mauri
ora (stand tall, be attentive, and keep well). This asks that we always remember who we are, where we come from, and to work for the collective wellbeing of our iwi, hap, and whnau, marae, and community. A well-known
whakatauk that enhances the potential to enrich indigenous autoethnography
by sharing our life experiences is recalled:
Nu te rourou, nku te rourou, ka ora ai ttou katoa
With your contribution and my contribution, the people will thrive

He Whakaaro Whakamutunga (Final Thoughts)


The truth about stories (King 2003) is so much more than merely talking
about being Mori, Native, or indigenous; but rather it is a journey of (re)
connecting with specific cultural sites, spaces, and struggles that relate to our
fluid past, present, and hopes for the future. Indigenous autoethnography from
this perspective is therefore about reclaiming our indigenous voice, visibility,
and vision (Battiste 2000; Smith 2005) as indigenous peoples in the research
agenda. This can only be achieved successfully by understanding that learning
about self as an indigenous person relates to valuing relationships with the
people and the environment. Linda Smith (1999) argues that diversity
strengthens a tribehomogeneity kills it. Indigenous autoethnography seeks
to strengthen and clarify how we as indigenous peoples want to live in the
world today. Ultimately, this means speaking about self creates new knowledge; meanings and possibilities that inform how being Mori, Native, or
indigenous is different. However, this coming to know is not restricted by
whether one has or has not engaged in a specific community, way of life, or
experience but rather the ability of the individual to think, uncover, connect,
synthesize, interpret, explain, and present ways of how self is represented.
Indigenous autoethnography as a resistance-discourse is intended to
inspire people to take action toward a legitimate way of self-determining
ones collective and cultural potential. Indigenous autoethnography also aims
to construct stories that invoke a deep sense of appreciation for multiple
realities and lives concerning indigenous peoples ways of knowing. As
indigenous autoethnography continues to develop, distinctions between our
potential as cultural human beings and what is required to protect our existence as Mori, Native, or being indigenous will thrive.
The need to coconstruct discursively our own individuality and connection to place becomes even more significant when claiming our indigenous
human rights to land, lakes, rivers, forests, and streams (Kapa 2009; Manning

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482

Journal of Contemporary Ethnography 43(4)

2009), and it requires a mind shift in our own lived realities as indigenous
peoples. The need to challenge injustices as well as our own understandings
about ourselves as indigenous peoples remains ever present in asking why we
do the things the way we do and how these events or interactions influence
our connection to culture and our own way of life (Hooker 2008). Finally, this
whakatauk (Mori proverb) by Hooker (2008, 16) proposes that indigenous
ways of knowing are, indeed, a dual reality that parallels the journey about
coming to know self, alongside the ability to be good in all that we do.

Ka Mutu Whakatauk (Concluding Mori Saying)


M te whakaatu, ka mhio
M te mhio, ka mrama
M te mrama, ka ora

When we are shown, we come to know


When we know, we can come to understand
When we understand, all will be well.

Declaration of Conflicting Interests


The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research,
authorship, and/or publication of this article.

Funding
The author(s) received no financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.

Notes
1.
2.
3.
4.

This is my mihimihi/pepeha (traditional greeting).


Native refers to my place of origin as an indigenous Mori person.
Mori are the indigenous peoples of Aotearoa-New Zealand.
Jones and Jenkins (2008a) chapter on, Re-thinking Collaboration: Working the
Indigene-Colonizer Hyphen aims to reclaim an indigenous voice by including
the indigenous name first followed by the hyphenated colonized word or term.
5. Whnau (immediate family relationships), hap (sub-tribe - interspersed family
relationships), iwi (extended wider family relationships).

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Author Biography
Paul Whitinui, EdD, is of the Mtaatua waka and its confederate tribes in the Far
North of Aotearoa, New Zealand Ng Puhi and Ngti Kur. He is an associate professor in Mori teacher education at the University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand.
He has a background in Mori education, sport and leisure, Mori health and development and has published and presented on a range of topics broadly linked to issues
concerning culturally responsive pedagogies, successful schooling for Mori students
in the 21st Century, treaty-related issues in education, Mori health, resiliency and
wellbeing.

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