Exploring whakapapa (genealogy) as a cultural concept to mapping transition journeys, understanding what is happening and discovering new insights

Vanessa Paki, Sally Peters


This paper reports on a three-year (2010–2013) Teaching and Learning Research Initiative (TLRI)
project in Aotearoa New Zealand, titled Learning Journeys from Early Childhood to School
(www.tlri.org.nz). The aim of the project was to investigate children’s learning journeys from early
childhood to school and involved three early childhood settings and two schools with at least 12
teacher researchers. In this paper we discuss the methodology from the project by conceptualising
whakapapa (genealogy) as a cultural tool to mapping the research. We establish that whakapapa serves as a research discourse that is underpinned by the five research sites, particularly their context, knowledge and ways of being for the meaning-making, cultural and symbolic relationship to
methodology, philosophy and people. Whilst we draw on whakapapa as a research methodology, we
also emphasise that the utilisation of this as a conceptual framework plays a critical role to
understanding and responding to children’s learning journeys from early childhood to school.

The inclusion of whakapapa charts (see appendix) shows the journey of what took place within and
between each setting. The layering of the project details specific points of entry and continuation with and between the sites, theorising the conceptualisations explored.


Whakapapa; kaupapa Māori; methodology; relationships; transition

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DOI: 10.15663/wje.v20i2.205


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