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Innovative conference will develop protocols

8 June 2004

Innovative conference will develop protocols for researching communities

Indigenous communities are demanding more of a say in the design, implementation and evaluation of research projects which involve them. This week, an innovative conference on traditional knowledge and research ethics being held in Wellington brings together communities, researchers and agencies to discuss the ethics of researching communities, and develop protocols that address those concerns.

Mâtauranga Tuku Iho Tikanga Rangahau: Traditional Knowledge & Research Ethics Conference 2004, will be held at Te Papa in Wellington on June 10–12 2004. It has been organized by Ngâ Pae o te Mâramatanga, the National Institute of Research Excellence in Mâori Development and Advancement.

Professor Linda Tuhiwai Smith, a joint director of Ngâ Pae o te Mâramatanga, says the conference challenges the idea that Indigenous communities are natural objects of white inquiry.

“Too often, external researchers move into communities without consultation, ask personal questions, draw conclusions that are not based on actual knowledge of community dynamics, values or knowledge, and then disappear, with the community never being informed of the results or conclusions of the research.”

Professor Smith says that Indigenous people have ways of knowing the world which are unique. “This conference recognizes that. It aims to develop protocols that are based on trust, negotiation and respect, which acknowledge community responsibility for community health, welfare and knowledge, and the rights of communities when any research involving that community is being planned.”

The conference programme will include matters related to researching with socially excluded groups; bioethics; health and education; media reporting of research; the challenges presented by the knowledge economy; tikanga Mâori; matauranga and indigenous knowledge; and the rapid advances being made in new technologies.

To ensure a high level of community involvement in the conference, seven community workshops are being held beforehand, in Tai Tokerau, Auckland, Whakatane, Gisborne, Taranaki, Christchurch and Bluff. Observations and suggestions from these workshops will then feed into the conference.


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