Te Pū o te Rākau: The pedagogy of pūrākau

Project commenced:

What is the pedagogy of pūrākau, and how does it operate as an Indigenous story work approach to advance kaupapa Māori research and innovative contributions to broader research and pedagogical processes within Aotearoa?

Given this is a scoping proposal, the following questions are pertinent to the investigation of the above research question:

What is the theory, methodology, and pedagogy of pūrākau? How was it used in traditional Māori society, and how is it utilised today?

How do pūrākau connect to the pedagogy of Indigenous story work and storytelling (including non-Indigenous) approaches?

How can the pedagogy of Indigenous story work be utilised for social transformation, in particular, in a digital context?

‘Te Pū o te Rākau: Pūrākau as pedagogy’ is a one-year scoping project that investigatespūrākau (storytelling) processes, practices and production of Māori knowledge systems. Coupled with this is the place and potential of contemporary pūrākau as an Indigenous innovation to support social transformation and human flourishing. More than an ‘incredible story’ (Williams, 1985), pūrākau generated knowledge, understanding and inspiration about our natural, social and spiritual worlds. Just as pūrākau of the past were crucial to our sustainability as whānau, hapū and iwi, pūrākau continue to offer ways to express our diverse identities, articulate our stories of struggle and inspiration, and strengthen and liberate our communities.

This project investigates the pedagogical dimension of pūrākau, with the aim of progressing the theoretical and analytical development of pūrākau to ensure a strong methodological foundation from which to develop pūrākau as an interdisciplinary story work practice and analysis. This kaupapa Māori qualitative study uses a comprehensive review of relevant literature, pūrākau approach to narrative inquiry (Lee, 2008) as well a wānanga process (Pihama & McRoberts, 2009) to engage with pūrākau experts (8-10) as well as Indigenous story work scholars (2).

A feature of this research project is the collaborative nature of this project that is cross-institutional and includes senior Māori academics and leading international scholars. Led by Assoc Prof Jenny Lee (University of Waikato), the research team includes Prof Wiremu Doherty (Te Whare  Wānanga o Awanuiārangi), Assoc Prof Leonie Pihama (University of Waikato),  and  Dr  Sarah-Jane  Tiakiwai  (Waikato-Tainui  Endowed  College),  as  well     as international  Indigenous  story  work  scholar  Prof  Joann  Archibald  (University  of British Columbia) and Prof Karina Walters (University of Washington).

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