Whatuora: Theorizing "New" Indigenous Research Methodology from "Old" Indigenous Weaving Practice


  • Hinekura Smith Te Rarawa tribe University of Auckland




Indigenous methodology, Māori weaving practice, decolonising research, women’s art research practice


Despite Indigenous peoples’ deeply methodological and artistic ways of being in and making sense of our world, the notion of “methodology” has been captured by Western research paradigms and duly mystified. This article seeks to contribute to Indigenous scholarship that encourages researchers to look to our own artistic practices and ways of being in the world, theorizing our own methodologies for research from our knowledge systems to tell our stories and create “new” knowledge that will serve us in our current lived realities.

I explain how I theorised a Māori [Indigenous peoples of Aotearoa New Zealand] weaving practice as a decolonizing research methodology for my doctoral research (Smith, 2017) to explore the lived experiences of eight Māori mothers and grandmothers as they wove storied Māori cloaks. I introduce you to key theoreticians who contributed significantly to my work so as to encourage other researchers to look for, and listen to, the wisdom contained within Indigenous knowledge and then consider the methodologies most capable of telling our stories from our own world-views.

Author Biography

Hinekura Smith, Te Rarawa tribe University of Auckland

Hinekura Smith is a Māori woman, teacher, weaver, researcher, mother and daughter who descends from tribal lands in the far north of Aotearoa New Zealand. She has over 20 years experience as a Māori educator, beginning her career as a Māori language teacher, before moving into Māori medium professional development, tertiary lecturing and research. Hinekura completed a Master of Education on Māori students succeeding “as Māori” followed by a doctoral research project about woven cloaks and living as Māori womenHer current research interests weave together Māori identity politics, decolonizing education and Indigenous arts-based research methodologies. Hinekura is a lecturer at the Centre for Learning and Research in Higher Education at The University of Auckland.


Abayo, L. E. (2006). Articulating indigenous people’s culture in education. In I. Abu-Saad & D. Champagne (Eds.), Indigenous education and empowerment: International perspectives (pp. 179-187). London, UK: AltaMira Press.

Gangé, N. (2013). Being Māori in the city: Indigenous everyday life in Auckland. Toronto, ON: University of Toronto Press.

Goodyear-Ka’opua, N., & Ka’opua, L. S. (2007). Dialoguing across the Pacific: Kūkākūkā and the cultivation of Wahine Maoli identities. Pacific Studies, 30(1), 48-63.

Green, L. & Beckwith, M. (2009). Hawaiian customs and beliefs relating to birth and infancy. American Anthropologist, 26(2), 230-246.

Henare, A. (2005). Nga aho tipuna (ancestral threads): Māori cloaks from New Zealand. In S. Kuchler & D. Miller (Eds.), Clothing as material culture (pp. 121-138). New York: Berg Publications.

Jenkins, K., & Mountain Harte, H. (2011). Traditional Māori parenting: An historical review of literature of traditional Māori child rearing practices in pre-European times. Auckland, NZ: Te Kahui Mana Ririki.

Kovach, M. (2009). Indigenous methodologies: Characteristics, conversations and contexts. Toronto, ON: University of Toronto Press.

Lamphere, L. (2007). Weaving women’s lives: Three generations in a Navajo family. New Mexico, USA, The University of New Mexico.

MacAulay, S., & Te Waru-Rewiri, K. (1996). Māori weaving: The intertwining of spirit, action and metaphor. Textile Society of America Symposium Proceedings: Paper 858, 195-204. University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Lincoln NE.

Mead, H. M. (2003). Tikanga Māori: Living by Māori values. Wellington, NZ: Huia Publishers.

Maihi, T. T. R. (2011). Ngā aho: Threads that join. In A. Tamarapa (Ed.), Whatu Kākahu: Māori cloaks (pp. 33-43). Wellington, NZ: Te Papa Press.

Pihama, L. (2001). Tihei Mauri ora. Honouring our voices: Mana wāhine as a kaupapa Māori theoretical framework. Auckland, NZ: The University of Auckland Press.

Pohatu, T. W. (2003). Maori world-views: Source of innovative social work choices. Social Work Review, 15(3), 16-24.

Pohatu, T. W. (2011). Mauri – Rethinking human wellbeing. MAI Review, (3), 1-12.

Royal, C. T. A. (2011). Wānanga: The creative potential of Mātauranga Māori. Wellington, NZ: Mauriora-ki-te-Ao/Living Universe.

Smith, H. L. (2017). Whatuora: Whatu kākahu and living as Māori women. (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). University of Auckland, Auckland, NZ. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/2292/36334

Williams, H. W. (1997). Dictionary of the Māori language (12th ed.). Wellington, NZ: G. P. Publications.




How to Cite

Smith, H. (2019). Whatuora: Theorizing "New" Indigenous Research Methodology from "Old" Indigenous Weaving Practice. Art/Research International: A Transdisciplinary Journal, 4(1), 1–27. https://doi.org/10.18432/ari29393