Do it Right

Kaupapa Māori

Kaupapa Māori research and evaluation is done by Māori, with Māori and for Māori. It is informed by tikanga Māori, or Māori ways of doing things. Researchers and service providers working with Māori need to acknowledge Māori ways of being and perspectives in their work.

They must build strong and healthy relationships with participants as they gather and analyse evidence. In the Kaupapa Māori framework, these relationships are built on mutual trust, respect, reciprocity and whanaungatanga.

Principles of a Kaupapa Māori ethical framework

Linda Tuhiwai Smith and Fiona Cram provide guidance on research and evaluation in a kaupapa Māori context – involving eight principles:


  1. Whanaungatanga refers to the building and maintenance of relationships. It’s the process of establishing meaningful, reciprocal and whānau or family-like relationships through cultural respect, connectedness and engagement.
  2. Manaakitanga describes sharing, hosting and being generous. It supports collaborative research and evaluation and helps knowledge flow both ways between researcher/evaluator and participant.
  3. Aroha means love but it also means respect. Treating people with respect means allowing them control: where to meet and on their own terms, and when to meet. Aroha also relates to the information collected. You should let the participant decide what information will become public and what will stay confidential. They can also choose whether to participate anonymously.
  4. Mahaki is about showing humility when sharing knowledge. Mahaki reminds us to share knowledge and experiences to understand each other better and to foster trust in the research or evaluator relationship.
  5. Mana relates to power, dignity and respect. Kaua e takahia te mana o te tangata “Do not trample on the mana or dignity of a person”. People are the experts on their own lives, including their problems, needs and aspirations. Look for ways to work together.
  6. Titiro, whakarongo, kōrero means to look, listen and then speak. When researching and evaluating it’s important to look and listen to develop understanding and find a place to speak from. You need to take time to understand people’s day-to-day realities, priorities and aspirations. This will make your questions relevant to the participant.
  7. Kia Tupato is being cautious. You need to be politically savvy, culturally safe, and reflective about your insider or outsider status. Staying safe might mean working with elders and others in the community who can guide your research and evaluation.
  8. He kanohi kitea means being a familiar face. You should seek to be involved with communities and familiar to them to build trust and communication.

These principles are discussed in more depth in this paper: A Research Ethic for Studying Māori and Iwi Provider Success.

Fiona Cram expands on these issues and kaupapa Māori research processes and values on her website.

The Rangahau website summarises Hirini Moko Mead’s Tikanga Māori Model, which explains a range of Kaupapa Māori research models and practice.

Māori models of impact assessment and evaluation

  • A new Māori evaluation association called Mā te Rae began in May 2015. 
  • Kepa Morgan has developed the Mauri-o-Meter. The model provides a method for supporters and funders of projects to take account of cultural considerations. The idea is that mauri, rather than money measures how sustainable a project is. Using mauri is more accurate and useful than merely counting the cost.
  • Ian Ruru has developed the Mauri Compass for assessing the mauri of a place or natural resource.

Other useful resources for collecting evidence with, by and for Māori:


A guide to ensuring we gather and analyse information in ways that respect and uphold the mana of the people we work with.

We would love you to answer a few questions to help us (Community Research) make this What Works web-resource as useful as possible.

Please view the survey page now.