What is whānau research, and how is whānau research being conducted?

Te Atawhai o Te Ao, Dr. Rāwiri Tinirau

 What is whānau research, and how is whānau research being conducted? A literature review for the Whakapapa Research Project

In line with the overall research theme of whakapapa (genealogy; genealogical table; lineage; descent) for the Whakapapa Research Project, a focus on whanau (family) and research with whānau is important. While many researchers have engaged whānau in research to determine their perspectives on various topics, few have explored notions of whānau, whānau research, whānau researchers, or how and who should undertake whānau research. As a result, there is little consensus on the definition of whānau research. Still, some have theorised motivations for undertaking research with whānau; how whānau, in its various descriptions and definitions, can become integral to the research process; and, whether whānau research should follow a similar approach to Māori (indigenous inhabitants of Aotearoa) research that is advocated as by, for, and with Māori. 

This review discusses literature relating to the nature and essence of whānau, including whānau participation, engagement, responsiveness, resilience, endurance, situation, position, life, arrangements, experience, knowledge, and status. This review also focuses on both traditional and contemporary notions of whānau and how researchers and practitioners alike have drawn from these. Themes found in the literature include: incorporating the concept of whānau and all its intricacies into traditional theories of belonging, identity, and whakapapa; the influence of whānau on the intergenerational transfer of knowledge; the increasing importance of whānau ability to motivate, influence, manage, and control change; and, whānau as an essential component of research. 

Download Whakapapa PDF

Back to resources