Landcare Research - Manaaki Whenua

Landcare-Research -Manaaki Whenua

Partner attributes and characteristics required for successful collaboration

Sue Scheele helping establish a pā harakeke.

Sue Scheele helping establish a pā harakeke.

Some of the most important factors that allow collaborative research with iwi and hapu, are that both parties have a common interest, a mutual respect for each other and each others philosophies, and the ability to co-operate and communicate, share workloads, and complete research for the benefit of others. These factors become realised through the relationship building stage. However, a number of other attributes and characteristics are required by both parties to improve the chances of successful and sustainable collaborative research. These 'partner' attributes and characteristics are given below and can be used to help selection and alignment of 'partners'.

For successful collaborative research to take place, an iwi group or Mäori organisation should:

  • have an identifiable entity or organisational structure mandated by the iwi or hapu individuals to represent or work with them, and for them;
  • be financially accountable, able to manage finances, with an auditing system in place;
  • relate well to other iwi groups and organisations;
  • have professional personnel managing the iwi authority, organisation or committee;
  • have some research capability, or be able to sub-contract research capability;
  • have reporting and accountability structures in place;
  • have effective contact with surrounding communities, iwi and hapu groups;
  • have an interest and belief in research;
  • have a capacity to communicate with outside agencies;
  • be able to manage research outside politics.

To undertake collaborative research, an iwi, individual, group or 'iwi research team' requires:

  • adequate resources;
  • the capacity and necessary skills to undertake and complete research;
  • a passion for research;
  • good writing skills;
  • basic computer skills;
  • a desire to produce quality results;
  • an ability to work and communicate effectively within teams, groups, and communities;
  • an ability to work with people in iwi, hapu, whanau, and with outside agencies and external groups;
  • an ability to focus on a project;
  • good understanding of Mäori concepts, te reo, and tikanga;
  • good understanding of Mäori issues and politics.

A track record of previous research is a great advantage. The previous research capability of an iwi or hapu may be demonstrated in areas such as: kaupapa Mäori research, historical research, Treaty claims research, education or social research, health research, policy analysis, strategic planning, recording matauranga, iwi management plans, whakapapa, historic records, te reo Mäori projects, oral history projects, recording cultural knowledge. All these contribute to building the intellectual and project management capacity of an iwi or hapu, and its ability to undertake future research. The Ngati Porou research team - an initial contact in terms of Manaaki Whenua's relationship building - had been involved in projects, both large and small, before their collaborative research with Manaaki Whenua.

This previous work allowed the iwi researchers to develop skills and expertise in many areas. Ngati Porou also sub-contracted outside expertise when required. The collaborative research entered into by Ngati Porou and Manaaki Whenua was largely based on this previous track record and demonstrated capability. Iwi members' available skills and expertise to undertake research work, is a very important part of any collaborative research model.

Individuals and organisations wanting to collaborate with iwi should have the following attributes:

  • an empathy towards Mäori culture and strong desire to work with Mäori;
  • respect and trust by the Mäori community or iwi group;
  • an ability to listen and communicate effectively with iwi or hapu members;
  • some understanding of te reo and tikanga;
  • an ability to understand Mäori concepts;
  • an ability to understand Mäori issues, and to be able to communicate them;
  • an ability to formulate research questions from a mainstream scientific and from a Mäori perspective;
  • excellent communication skills;
  • high competence in their field of expertise and respect from their peers;
  • an ability to communicate their work to audiences in a non-technical way.

Before entering into any collaborative arrangement it is essential that people from both sides show passion, enthusiasm for research, and also commitment to following the proposed research through to completion. They must also be prepared to meet the standards set down by the funding agencies, in terms of quality of work, budgets, time frames, and reporting. Most collaborative projects are driven or championed by key people from both sides, and these people form the essential link that makes for successful collaboration. They are an integral component of the 'collaborative model'.