Mahi Whakaahua: A practice-led methodological approach into documentary filmmaking through a Kaupapa Māori Paradigm

Keywords: Indigenous Knowledge, Kaupapa Māori, Mokomoko, Practice-led research, Te ao Māori


It is generally accepted practice that research writing should include a review of the methodology and methods designed to increase the chances of the discovery of new knowledge in the field of inquiry. However, in indigenous research, the over-reliance on Western paradigms and methodological frameworks can be problematic, because they do not consider the ontology and epistemology located in ancestral practices. By considering the Māori doctoral thesis: ‘Tangohia mai te taura’ (Take this rope), this article argues that a methodological approach for indigenous researchers must be extended to embrace many forms of knowledge, including Kaupapa Māori as an approach to scholarly research, informed by historical narratives, and knowledge based on oral repositories of experience that exist in indigenous waiata (songs), oriori (chants), karakia (prayers) and pūrākau (storytelling). As an extension of this, an indigenous inquiry that seeks to exhume lived experiences of injustice must also frame the genealogically connected, orally accounted experiences of communities as valued repositories of knowledge when designing a methodological approach to filmmaking. 

Author Biography

Toiroa Williams, Auckland University of Technology

Toiroa Williams is a Māori documentary filmmaker with tribal links across Te Whakatōhea, Ngāi Tai and Te Whānau a Apanui. His research focuses on telling Indigenous stories specific to his people, which might aid in the teachings of their history to future generations. He completed a Masters’ degree in documentary filmmaking in [2016], and he has been the recipient of numerous scholarships, including an AUT INTERNZ at the Sundance Institute. He is currently completing a PhD that considers Māori approaches to indigenous filmmaking. 


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