He Pounga: the Māori Jurisprudence Project (Stage 1)

Project commenced:

This research seeks to investigate Māori jurisprudence. Māori jurisprudence, broadly speaking, comprises a set of tikanga and how those tikanga are used in everyday life to make decisions that affect Māori communities. For this research we wish to focus specifically on the most important institution of Māori decision-making: the hui. This pilot project will investigate a limited set of hui, specifically examining decision-making and the role of tikanga in such decision-making, within urban contexts.  The research hypothesis upon which this project is designed is that modern everyday Maori jurisprudence is observable and distinct, despite the impact of Western legal frameworks.

The research will record and analyse 4 hui. To that end, the following research questions have been identified that will be asked in regards to each hui.

Primary research question:  How do Maori in today's urban and modern environment use tikanga in hui to make decisions that affect significant numbers of other Maori?

The material required for this analysis comprise recordings of selected hui where decisions are made that affect the lives of significant numbers of Maori. These recordings will form the basis of transcripts, both of which will be analysed, using principles of discourse analysis, to determine the kinds of practices and language used. Human ethics approval will, of course, be sought.

When Māori hui in urban contexts to make important decisions that affect others outside that hui (of ‘civic impact’, or impacting on a significant number of Māori beyond that hui), do participants expect a basic set of practices and values (tikanga) to be demonstrated in making decisions in these hui?

What comprises the set of expected practices and values (tikanga) that underpinned decision-making for each hui? 

What kinds of values and practices are observed to underpin such decision-making within these hui?

How does what actually occurs in decision-making hui match the stated expectations?

In evaluating different kinds of hui, do decision-making practices and values change used according to the environments or social contexts within which each hui takes place?

What kinds of reasons may explain any significant differences in the employment of values and practices?

How do participants in these hui explain how decision-making practices and values may differ depending on environment and context?

Where the hui is held in Māori, or bilingually, is there one particular language that is chosen to enact decision-making?

What reasons are articulated by hui participants for the selection of language?

He Pounga: the Māori Jurisprudence Project asks a question that has not yet been asked: how do Māori in today's modern, urban environments use tikanga Māori to make decisions that affect significant numbers of other Māori? To answer that question we must examine what Māori actually do in hui where such decisions are made. What values and practices do we use? How do we use them in decision-making? What do we believe we are doing in our use of tikanga to make decisions on the behalf of other Māori, and how does what we actually do align with these

The research hypothesis upon which this project is designed is that every day modern Māori jurisprudence is observable, and that those who utilise it are able to adapt the practices of Maori jurisprudence to meet the pressures imposed upon it by Western law, but in such a way that maintains and upholds Maori values and cultural integrity.

To pursue these questions the Pilot Project will identify appropriate hui where decisions are made that affect the lives of significant numbers of Maori. Such hui could include (but are not limited to) the tikanga wānanga of a community law centre, a restorative justice hui, a school-based tikanga wānanga; a rangatahi court hearing, a settlement negotiations hui or mediation where tikanga principles are used; a Māori affairs select committee meeting.

Research Lead(s) and Team

Te Rarawa

Māmari completed an MA (Distinction) in Classical Studies, BA (Hons), and an LLB (Hons) at Victoria University. She then spent three and a half years at Russell McVeagh in Wellington working in the Māori legal team in the Corporate Advisory Group, latterly concentrating on ACC law.