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Prepare to arrive as guests: being manuhiri in the production of knowledge

New research led by Manaaki Whenua’s Dr Alison Greenaway has focused on how non-indigenous scientists embrace the geographical, cultural, and social places they find themselves as manuhiri (guests).

The researchers discuss the need for non-Indigenous researchers ‘to prepare to arrive as guests’ in a co-production of knowledge process and to adopt methodological sensitivities for such work.

In this discussion, nine signs emerged to help primarily non-indigenous researchers and practitioners navigate the co-production of knowledge and practices shaping environmental outcomes.

  1. Alternative worlds are becoming visible and possible
  2. Power asymmetries are being made visible
  3. Invitations from Indigenous peoples are accepted, and challenges are being responded to
  4. Indigenous ways to represent non-Indigenous people are at the centre
  5. Stumbling, failures, and mistakes are acknowledged and redressed
  6. Care is taken when moving insights from one context to another
  7. Shared leadership is remaking institutional spaces
  8. Shared values are explored for points of connection
  9. Relationship building is prioritised.

As Dr Greenaway explains, this work supports those in the research system to move towards an unknown and as yet unknowable knowledge destination, solution or outcome. “It may also help groups move beyond the paralysis generated when non-indigenous partners become cognisant of the enormity of devastation their Indigenous partners are working through,” she notes.

The research also supports environment and recreation groups who are navigating a shift from linear, siloed environmental management to collective management.“As co-management of (and with) places becomes more typical, community groups such as tramping, pest control, and mountain biking groups find they are changing how they relate with places, tangata whenua, and Crown agencies involved with these places.In some parts of Aotearoa New Zealand this is a journey of learning to be manuhiri,” she explains.

Co-management of places is being enabled through Te Tiriti o Waitangi settlements establishing co-governance agreements, the Resource Management Act (1991), related memorandums of understanding, or special legislation supporting collaborative decision making driven by tangata whenua.Behind all these initiatives is an increase in capacity for more relational ways of caring for the environment and generated momentum for co-produced environmental and cultural practices.

“Co-produced knowledge opens alternative worlds and develops new social contracts,”Dr Greenaway says, as she and colleagues attempt to work with an ethic of reciprocity.“We respond to invitations from Indigenous scholars, kairangahau Māori colleagues and those intentionally creating spaces in organisations, budgets and funding processes, and review practices, for Indigenous knowledge and practices.” 

The social knowledge has been crafted into a discussion guide (‘Arriving with Care’) and related resources (Being Manuhiri) to support environmental researchers and practitioners to arrive with care in the places they are exploring.This work contributes to the conversation in Aotearoa New Zealand about how we can know we are building enduring trustful Tiriti o Waitangi-based partnerships.

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