Type-2 diabetes and other illnesses associated with a sedentary lifestyle have a high prevalence among Māori. While the application of knowledge from exercise physiology, a specific discipline of the health sciences, could be used to enhance Māori health aspirations, Māori-led research in this field is relatively uncommon. Exercise physiology seeks to understand physical performance and the relationships between fitness, body composition, health and illness. Rarely have the key tenets of exercise physiology been applied to Māori populations. This paper discusses the application of, and interface between, kaupapa Māori methods of research and those traditionally used in exercise physiology. Specifically we discuss the application of four kaupapa—rangatiratanga, wairuatanga, whanaungatanga and manaakitanga—in a lab-based setting. The paper concludes that exercise science has the potential to bridge Indigenous and Western approaches to research, informing both the prevention and the treatment of lifestyle illnesses that impact significantly on Māori communities.