Hine waitere transforming praxis, creating futures our ancestors can walk in with our children - A culturally responsive journey through academia.

Year: 2012

Author: Smith, Graham, Johnston, Patricia, Stephens, Cheryl, Doherty, Wiremu

Type of paper: Abstract refereed


Solution focused and potential oriented the wananga is embedded in an ongoing cyclic engagement of transformation that is both future focused and healing orientated.

Taking a 360 degree approach to transformation requires, at least in part, the courage to embrace the incremental acts of transforming in the micro mundane moments of everyday activity, as much as the macro moments of monumental strategic achievement.  Engaged in transforming as a temporal, 'in the moment act', suggests we are all implicated in praxistic moments of importance. Transforming praxis suggests not only the need to engage in critical practice it also suggests the need to claim and (re)interpret the terms in which critical awareness is constructed and seen to be appropriately enacted in the context of an indigenous university. The gift of productive discomfort derived from being located in the Wananga is that one is not only compelled to look back but to also look forward, to think forward, write forward, theorise forward, to be solution focused. We are challenged to not only look at ourselves but also to look at others, to theorize our own lives as well as our practices, in short to have the courage to engage in critical cycles or reflection and intervention in ways where we do not become part of the same pathologies that we have found problematic.

This paper uses an indigenous metaphor, a manutaratahi; a three pronged kite to chart a personal journey through academia. Although ontologically situated as a self study I have no fascination in personal self aggrandisement, it simply acts as an entry point into normative conversations where one is neither seen as normal nor normalised. The first Apex draws attention to the politics of knowledge, showing that the act of knowing by itself is clearly not enough. The second draws attention to the politics of method, recognising that knowledge is important in our journeys but that it does not live by itself. In short we cannot politicise what we know without politicising how we come to know it. The third apex pivots on the politics of praxis. In response to the oft cited critical 'so what' question, raised by indigenous communities in relation to the significance of our academic labour, the kite must be critically connected to praxistic, organic moments of transforming praxis. The purpose to the kite's flight is to signal and embrace the politics of healing in uneven worlds.