Colonising processes, which led to the removal of many hapū and iwi from their whenua through conflict and dispossession, significantly altered Māori relationships with environments and associated tikanga. Mārakai, as a manifestation of ahi kaa, formed an important part of Māori resistance efforts to maintain occupation of their whenua. Large-scale disconnection of tangata whenua from whenua severely undermined their wellbeing and ability to maintain nature-culture relationships through continued practice of ahi kaa.
The Atiawa ki Whakarongotai Charitable Trust recently instigated qualitative research to better understand the notion of iwi connectedness and the link with oranga. This paper reports of the findings of that research, which examined how connectedness is understood by iwi and identified implications of connectedness on oranga. Thirty Atiawa ki Whakarongotai iwi members were interviewed between February and June 2015 using a semi-structured interview guide. Questions related to multiple aspects of connectedness, including their participation in iwi and marae activities, barriers and enablers to participation, and advantages and disadvantages of participation.
This article provides a brief synopsis of using kaupapa Māori approaches in initiating my doctoral research and collecting the data through interviews. I examine these approaches from four different aspects. The first discusses whanaungatanga as a recruitment methodology. Additional topics explored include tikanga Māori and accessing knowledge. The second considers the insider–outsider relationship and the advantages or disadvantages of holding either position. I also discuss whether these positions are a binary or dichotomy from a Māori perspective, in my role as interviewer and my interactions with Nana, the fi rst participant.