Mālie and māfana : a transformational approach to research with a vulnerable indigenous community

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Lino, Aulola
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Conference Contribution - Oral Presentation
Ngā Upoko Tukutuku (Māori subject headings)
South Auckland (N.Z.)
New Zealand
Tongans in New Zealand
youth suicide
Tongan youth in New Zealand
indigenous research
research methodology
cultural responsiveness
indigenous perspectives
talanoa (traditional method of face-to-face conversations)
Auckland (N.Z.)
Lino, A. (2019, October). Mālie and māfana: A transformational approach to research with a vulnerable indigenous community. Paper presented at the ANZSWWER Symposium 2019 : Activism and social change : How can social work research and education contribute to a just world? Perth, Western Australia.
This paper reports on an innovation in research practice developed during the course of a project involving work with vulnerable Pacific (Tongan) youth. It proposes an extension of the Kakala Research Framework, designed to capture traditional Tongan values in the research process. Kakala is the name given to a garland used on ceremonial occasions. The making of the kakala entails several processes, which can metaphorically be mapped onto research stages. Helu-Thaman (1999) identified three elements for the Kakala Research Framework: Toli (Data Collection), Tui (Data Analysis) and Luva (Data Analysis). Taufe’ulungaki and Johansson Fua (2005) added three more elements: Teu (Preparation), Mālie (Evaluation), Māfana (Transformational). In the author’s own research with Tongan youth at risk of suicide, it was discovered that the latter two elements needed to be integrated and interwoven with the other four elements in order to ensure appropriate connection and trust in relation to a sensitive topic. In this context, transparency about monitoring (evaluation) and transformative purpose throughout the research journey was vital, and enabled participant openness to sharing challenging experiences. This paper demonstrates how an enhanced culturally-specific research methodology can grow rich and purposeful community connections, embodying key values for culturally sensitive research work.
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