He Vaka Moana

Year: 2019

Author: Wolfgramm-Foliaki, Dr, 'Ema

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

He Vaka Moana: An Oceanic Research Framework

‘Ema Wolfgramm-Foliaki

University of Auckland

He Vaka Moana is a strength-based project framed by oceanic principles and methodologies - connecting us as Maori and Pacific peoples to what sustains us - the ocean. We draw from our shared history of our tupuna who navigated the vast Pacific Ocean on purpose-built vessels using indigenous methods of navigating to successfully reach their destinations.

He Vaka Moana is an example of how we, as indigenous peoples have for centuries engaged in our own forms of methodological research to test theories and advance thinking. Employing our own indigenous methodologies has supported the revitalization of our own ways of being, thinking, speaking, behaving and even breathing. More importantly, it allows us to reclaim what binds us while at the same time disrupt historical views and lens that have continued to claim our narrative from a deficit viewpoint. It is a culturally sustaining research approach that can advance issues of diversity, equity, social justice and educational achievement for indigenous peoples in higher education.

Conceptually we draw on the knowledge and imagery in the Tongan saying ‘pikipiki hama kae vaevae manava’. Pikipiki hamameans to stick, bind or link strongly to the outrigger of a vaka moana (ocean going canoe). Vaevae means to give, share or to gift andmanava is a core word in Pasifika contexts which refers to the heart, centre, womb or breath (Tui Atua Tamasese Taisi Efi, 2003). This saying is used to describe the ancient practice of lashing together vaka moana as they traversed the Pacific Ocean to swap resources including crew members and share knowledge before untying and continuing on their journey. In our context, it demonstrates how we can effectively navigate ‘academe’, a space where sharing of resources and knowledge is key to our success. As a framework it promotes our coming together as teachers, learners, family members together with the wider community to share and learn from one another.

In this presentation, I will share my research journey and together with Fonua & Smith will demonstrate how ‘coming together’ in deliberate and purposeful ways can feed the manavaand create transforming change to benefit indigenous peoples.Our collective voice speak to a space that seek to disrupt and interrogate western forms of research knowledge while engaging in what Alfred and Simpson (2016) refers to as ‘indigenous resurgence’.