ANZASW Research Practice Note Sept 2018

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Purpose: This note is intended to augment the association’s general policies about research and the statement about research in the ANZASW Code of Ethics. Registered social workers are also bound to follow the guidelines of the SWRB pertaining to conduct of research.


“…[research] practices linked to the last century, and the centuries before that, are still employed to deny the validity of indigenous peoples’ claim to existence, to land and territories, to the right of self-determination, to the survival of our languages and forms of cultural knowledge, to our natural resources and systems for living within our environments.” (Linda Tuhiwai Smith, Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples, 1999)

ANZASW acknowledges the validity of tangata whenua; their kaupapa, tikanga, or their knowledge and practices and is positioned alongside other research theories and methodologies as a grand narrative and proven research science as Indigenous theorist Linda Smith contends. The aim of this research practice note is to give focus to the already considerable research activity done by all researchers on key development issues facing tangata whenua communities in Aotearoa/New Zealand. It serves as a guideline for ethical practice in research particularly by Māori, for Māori and with Māori and recognises the need for researchers to be aware of protocols and values supporting ethical research practice, both culturally and institutionally.

This practice note is intended as a resource for both Māori peoples and non-Māori researchers engaged in doing research in Aotearoa/New Zealand. Its premise is that ethical research practice is a process of continuous engagement throughout the research cycle; as such these guidelines should be viewed as a starting point for engagement and dialogue around issues of effective research practice. It provides a platform, allowing researchers to critically think about how their research is to be conducted and to ensure that their research is underpinned by Māori values, outlined further in this research practice note.

There are three main sections: “Engagement with Māori in research”, which emphasises the importance of a duty of care for all researchers and the need to undertake appropriate consultation that involves a discussion with key stakeholders, interest groups, and high value organisations. Māori and Tauiwi researchers should consider the involvement of Māori from start to finish of their project; from planning research design, methods of data collection, and the interpretation and analysis stages. Such inclusivity acknowledges the validity of a Māori way of doing research and as partners in research.

The second section, “The publication and dissemination of research”, outlines important processes when research findings are about to be released into the public domain. An important step, is ensuring Māori are consulted beforehand, during, and afterwards where necessary and/or where the research specifically pertains to Māori to ensure the recipients of dissemination appropriately includes the Māori audience. The final section, “Useful Reference Documents”, includes essential supplementary resources for those intending to do research with and/or for tangata whenua.

Engagement with Māori in Research

The researcher has a duty of care to approach research pertaining to Māori in a culturally sensitive way. When research focuses on Māori as a cultural group, or if the nature of the research is such that there are clear potential implications of direct interest to Māori, the researcher is required to show that appropriate consultation has taken place, such as discussing any issues relating to Māori cultural and ethical values with the whanau, hapū or iwi concerned or with appropriate professional bodies, Māori ethics advisors or other experts. At times researchers may feel limited in their access to Māori advisors. In the first instance researchers would be directed to their workplace Māori ethics advisors and/or tertiary institutional advisory groups, or personal Māori iwi networks.

Planning design process 

The researcher (s) will include in the design stage an exploration of the nature of the proposed study and its potential implications for Māori, even when Māori are not the focus of the study. Caution should be used in the statement “this research will benefit all people including Māori” as a more detailed analysis of implications is required.

If the research involves participants who are recruited because they are Māori (or the research involves a topic of particular interest to Māori), a Māori researcher should list his or her tribal affiliations on relevant documentation, including participant information sheets and advertisements. A Tauiwi researcher should provide information about consultation processes, funding and team membership.

During conduct of data collection with Māori

For Māori researchers: Kaupapa Māori research ‘has been defined as research by Māori, for Māori and with Māori (Smith, 1999). As a research strategy it is related to Māori ownership of knowledge and acknowledging the validity of a Māori way of doing’ (Walker, Eketone, & Gibbs, 2006, p. 333). Walker et al. recommend the following principles for researchers:

  • kaupapa Māori research gives full recognition to Māori cultural values and systems;
  • kaupapa Māori research is a strategic position that challenges dominant Pākehā (non-Māori) constructions of research;
  • kaupapa Māori research determines the assumptions, values, key ideas, and priorities of research;
  • kaupapa Māori research ensures that Māori maintain conceptual, methodological, and interpretive control over research;
  • kaupapa Māori research is a philosophy that guides Māori research and ensures that Māori protocol will be followed during research processes

All researchers will be cognisant that Māori research methodology recommends the predominant use of a kanohi ki te kanohi (face to face) approach when establishing networks, interacting and engaging with individuals and organisations. Researchers will consider the use of karakia and appropriate protocols to conduct hui, such as focus groups or community consultations/reference groups.

Good practice recommends the use and promotion of te reo Māori and the appropriate use of pōwhiri, whakatau and mihimihi processes. The use and active practice of culturally appropriate processes wherever possible including the significance of kai.

Intellectual property: in consultation with whanau, hapū and iwi and Māori ethics advisors if available, researchers will develop protective mechanisms regarding cultural and intellectual property of participants in accordance with ethical and methodological fidelity.

The Publication and Dissemination of Research

The ANZASW is committed to the principle that research undertaken by its members should be published and disseminated, in a responsible manner, for the benefits of social workers and the wider community.

To do this the researcher(s) is obliged, whenever possible, to:

  • Provide the results of the research to those who have participated in the research in a comprehensive form. Furthermore, for research in which the ANZASW facilitated access to its members as research participants it is expected the findings will be disseminated to the wider membership;
  • Publish the research results in a form appropriate and accessible to the social work discipline in Aotearoa which includes peer-reviewed academic journals such as the journal Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work, subject to full anonymous peer review and editing and local and international social work conferences. Furthermore, the researcher is encouraged to provide professional development opportunities for social workers through the Webinars and workshops facilitated by ANZASW;
  • Consult with Māori about publishing and disseminating research which involves, focusses and/or has implications for Māori. This action includes discussing the possible implications for Māori of publishing the research results in the public domain and the authorship of the research with the whānau, hapū, rūnanga or iwi concerned;
  • Ensure the confidentiality of participants is maintained in the publication and dissemination of results of the research, recognising peoples in Aotearoa/New Zealand have multiple and overlapping reference groups;
  • Provide a duty of care to ensure that research which involves and/or pertains to individuals, groups and communities considered marginalised or disadvantaged, protects their interests and does no harm to participants, members of those represented in the research, or wider Indigenous communities.

Useful Reference Documents

SWRB Research Position Paper 

The Royal Society of New Zealand Te Apārangi 

The International Science Council (ISC)

Rangahau- resources for kaupapa Māori research 


Smith, L. T. (1999). Kaupapa Maori methodology: our power to define ourselves. Unpublished paper presented to the University of British Columbia.

Smith, L. T. (2012). Decolonizing methodologies: Research and indigenous peoples (2nd ed.). London; New York: Zed Books

Walker, S., Eketone, A., & Gibbs, A. (2006). An exploration of kaupapa Māori research, its principles, processes and applications. International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 9(4), 331-344. doi:10.1080/13645570600916049


 Reference Group 

Tepora Pukepuke

Moses Faleolo

Raewyn Tudor

Liz Beddoe

Lucy Sandford Reed