“Disruption” and “decolonisation” are terms often associated with Indigenous researchers’ intent to validate traditional cultural knowledge and practice in academia. The challenges and complexities in Indigenous researchers’ positionalities within their doctoral research projects are not always openly discussed (Webber, 2009). In this article, I share my personal reflections and observations of the challenges in my doctoral research with Tongan kāinga (extended families) in Aotearoa New Zealand and Tonga. I highlight “Tatala ’a e Koloa ’o e To’utangata Tonga i Aotearoa mo Tonga”, a research framework drawn from an Indigenous paradigm that governs the knowledge and actions of three to’utangata Tonga (generations of Tongan males) as well as my own activities as the researcher within the community. Interrogating and highlighting the challenges linked to my attempts to validate and legitimate Tongan cultural knowledge in the university setting is delineated by my positionality within the Tongan community in Aotearoa and Tonga, with other Indigenous researchers, and the ways in which I negotiate the boundaries between the traditional cultural world and academia.