Relational and culturally responsive supervision of doctoral students working in Māori contexts: Inspirations from the Kingitanga

Ted Glynn, Mere Berryman


There is much to celebrate in the greatly increased number of Māori and non-Māori students in New Zealand tertiary institutions undertaking doctoral research on issues of importance to Māori.
However, in honouring their commitments to the Treaty of Waitangi, tertiary institutions need to
ensure that Māori doctoral students and their Māori communities maintain their right to define their own research questions, research paradigms and methodologies. As supervisors of doctoral research students investigating issues of significance to Māori people, it is essential that we learn to position ourselves as visitors in someone else’s cultural space, as partners in the Treaty of Waitangi, and as co-constructors of knowledge and research methodology rather than as experts and gatekeepers (Berryman, SooHoo, & Nevin, 2013; Glynn, 2012).

This paper was occasioned by an invitation from the organisers of the annual Kingitanga Day cultural and educational programme at the University of Waikato. The Kingitanga movement has much to teach us about how to frame and conduct research that responds to long-standing injustices that have marginalised Māori people. The Kingitanga has inspired us through the resistance, resilience, agency and humility of its leaders in asserting their right to define the effects of historic and contemporary injustices, and the right to define their own responses to these injustices.

In this paper, we explore some of the relational and culturally responsive understandings we have
arrived at from supervising the research of four doctoral candidates in Education (two Māori and two non-Māori). This research has been designed to promote the success and wellbeing of Māori students in mainstream schools, addressing historic and ongoing injustices experienced by Māori students and their whānau and communities.


Relational and culturally responsive supervision; research in Māori contexts; research supervisor positioning; Kingitanga movement

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DOI: 10.15663/wje.v20i2.191


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© Wilf Malcolm Institute of Educational Research, Te Kura Toi Tangata Faculty of Education, 2015