The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting lockdowns in Aotearoa New Zealand have been a source of change, of uncertainty and of anxiety. The ways in which we engage with each other as Indigenous people have had to change drastically and suddenly; our ways of being, of sharing space, of being present, have all had to be adjusted. For Indigenous postgraduate students, COVID-19 and lockdowns have meant a re-shaping and re-thinking of how we come together as a community that supports each other within Westernised institutions and along our academic and research journeys.
He Vaka Moana is a strengths-based project framed by oceanic principles and methodologies that connect us as Māori and Pasifika to the ocean. The underpinning kaupapa and theoretical framework of He Vaka Moana is the Tongan proverb “pikipiki hama kae vaevae manava”, which refers to our individual vaka coming together to support each other as we navigate the moana.
This article provides a brief synopsis of using kaupapa Māori approaches in initiating my doctoral research and collecting the data through interviews. I examine these approaches from four different aspects. The first discusses whanaungatanga as a recruitment methodology. Additional topics explored include tikanga Māori and accessing knowledge. The second considers the insider–outsider relationship and the advantages or disadvantages of holding either position.