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Māori Researcher slams MOTU report as flawed analysis

Māori Researcher slams MOTU report as flawed analysis

The released report “Indigenous Belief in a Just World: New Zealand Maori and other Ethnicities Compared” by the MOTU Policy and Research Unit is uninformed and misinterprets data related to Māori values, states University of Waikato Research Director Associate Professor Leonie Pihama.

“I am appalled at how MOTU can produce such an uninformed analysis in regards to Māori understandings and values. It highlights a disturbing arrogance on the part of the three Pakeha male authors that they assume they know what underpins Māori thinking, when clearly they do not.”

The report draws on data from the World Values Survey from the 1998, 2004 and 2011 surveys. Only 7.7% of the participants are Māori and the authors compare Māori responses to non-Māori. The researchers “compare Maori to a left-right political spectrum of non- Maori. We then benchmark our results against a comparison of black and non-black Americans”.

Dr Pihama notes that the research is flawed on multiple grounds:

1. The researchers make significant sweeping statements when they clearly do not have the cultural knowledge or experience to do so.

2. The comparison to left-right political spectrum is overly simplistic given that Māori voters are much more diverse and complex and often move across the political spectrum.

3. Assuming Māori responses may be compared to African American shows an obvious lack of awareness of the researchers of indigenous positioning as opposed to those of minority oppressed groups.

4. The researchers clearly interpret Māori responses through a white male lens which assumes that in making selections in the survey our people do so thinking in the same way as Pakeha men. That is not the case and as such the interpretation of the data set is totally inappropriate and is reflective more of the researchers’ bias than it is of Māori understandings.

Dr Pihama states that an example of the lack of understanding by the report authors is their comment in regards to Māori views of abortion.

“They write that Māori ‘tend to be religious conservatives in the sense of being averse to, for example, abortion’.

“What this highlights is that the authors see the only reason for being averse to abortion is due to religion. However that is not the case, often our people are looking at whakapapa and whangai as cultural frameworks in regards to providing alternatives for our people. That has nothing to do with ‘religious conservativism’.”


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