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Traversing Indigenous communication landscapes: Translation, uptake and impact of Māori research


Published onAug 20, 2023
Traversing Indigenous communication landscapes: Translation, uptake and impact of Māori research

As Indigenous researchers we are supported and guided by an integral understanding to conduct research in accordance with our own Indigenous ethics (tikanga). By taking greater control of research methodologies and processes, we are reclaiming our ancient knowledges and ways of passing on or disseminating those knowledges. One of the less widely understood components of Māori research is around Indigenous-based, effective modes for communicating research findings to effect aspirational change for Māori. This paper explores the components of a new framework rooted in the strengths, wisdom and world views of Indigenous peoples. The TUI (Translation, Uptake and Impact) framework is designed to communicate new Māori research knowledge. This paper looks at using the TUI framework as a way to build awareness methods to engage whānau, hapū, Iwi and Māori communities, and a way to use communication to rebalance inequities. Inclusive, Māori led and Māori focused research translation thereby has the potential to contribute to more sustainable and transformative change.

Key words: Māori; Research dissemination; Indigenous ethics; Indigenous knowledge


Persistent inequities in health outcomes are experienced globally by Indigenous populations, particularly in settler-colonial nations (Wilson et al. 2021). Indigenous peoples are cut off from the protective elements ingrained in their traditional values, beliefs and practices (Mulholland and Tawhai 2010) and experience ineffective interactions with healthcare services (Aspinall et al. 2020). Māori, the Indigenous peoples of Aotearoa New Zealand, are a group who have been studied for decades, yet continue to experience significant health disparities when compared to their Pākehā (non-Māori) counterparts (Robson and Harris 2007; Ministry of Health 2015; Houkamau 2016). While the majority Pākehā enjoy relatively good health in New Zealand (Barnes et al. 2014), deep-seated health and wellbeing inequities are a feature of New Zealand’s long-term population health trajectory for Māori (Robson and Harris 2007; Ministry of Health 2015). Colonisation continues to have adverse and detrimental effects on the health, wellbeing and very existence of Māori (Durie 2012; Robson and Harris 2007) and on the Māori populations’ aspirations, vitality and potential (Moewaka Barnes and McCreanor 2019). These historical disparities result from colonial policies and practices that deprive Māori of their rights, property, infrastructures, institutions and sovereignty (Smith 1999; Spoonley and Pearson 2004; Walker 1990). Language degradation, racist policies, discrimination and social exclusion are congruent with the disparate Māori healthcare outcomes (Robson and Harris 2007). Subsequently, the very concept of ‘research’ has a troubled past amongst Indigenous peoples, with Māori featuring as subjects of studies as the novel ‘other’, with the result of being harmed, exploited and traumatised (Boulton 2020).

Whakauae research

Whakauae Research is based in Whanganui, a town on the west coast of Aotearoa New Zealand’s North Island. Whakauae Research holds a unique position as the only research centre in Aotearoa directly owned and accountable to an Iwi (tribal) entity. Overseen by Ngāti Hauiti an Iwi (tribe) in the Rangitīkei region, Whakauae Research is committed to transforming Māori lives by translating health research evidence into practice and driving Kaupapa Māori research (Māori centred research) as innovative, collaborative and cutting edge. Reclaiming the intellectual traditions, reviving ancient teachings and re-applying the knowledge of ancestors are part of a movement Whakauae Research is enacting toward developing research which is meaningful and useful to Māori communities (Boulton 2020). Whakauae Research is guided by tikanga (values and ethics) handed down from their Elders. Inherently, Whakauae Research has practised and adapted its ancestral communication landscape throughout its years of health research to reach the ears of its funders, the hands of its Iwi owners and most importantly, the hearts of the people they serve: hapori Māori (Māori communities). The practice of Kaupapa Māori research in this sense acknowledges that the deeply entrenched health and wellbeing inequities for Māori are tied to a range of systems that do not work for Māori. Changing these systems requires from the ground up re-framing of narratives towards the inclusion of whānau (family), hapū (sub-tribe), Iwi and hapori Māori.

Ethics and tikanga

Tikanga are a set of locally informed and specific values and practices which guide relationships between all living things. This means that tikanga represent the ethics we use in being, living and in undertaking research. Tikanga is adapted and enacted appropriately in contextually specific responses. Individual hapū and Iwi have their own localised understandings and examples of tikanga based on their specific experiences, contexts and environments (Cheung 2008) which are customary practices, or ‘layers of the culture’ woven from common cultural concepts, and primarily a set of values handed down from ancestors (Carter et al. 2018). These tikanga and ethics can ‘speak to us through chants, songs, stories and many other forms of belief’ (Smith 2020: 127). They are at the heart of Māori life and society (Mead 2003) and applied in everyday settings (Barlow and Wineti 1991). Tikanga inform and build frameworks for how groups interact, relationships are formed and address ethical issues, behaviours and practices in engaging with Māori and things that matter to them (Carter et al. 2018). For Māori, ethics is about ‘tikanga’ – for tikanga reflects our values, our beliefs and the way in which we view the world (Hudson et al. 2010). As a result, when conducting research with Māori, ethical considerations are based on Māori values, thus ethical behaviour then mirrors those values.

Whakauae Research follows conventional Western research ethics standards but not at the expense of their tikanga (Boulton 2020). The fundamental principles of tangata whenua (Indigenous peoples of the land) are incorporated from Whakauae Research’s parent organisation, Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Hauiti. These tikanga guide researchers at Whakauae Research on the selection of a study design, the development of research questions and how the communication and dissemination of results is returned to Māori. The five tikanga that govern the mahi (work) at Whakauae Research are highlighted by Boulton (2020): a holistic view of what constitutes good health for all is embraced by the principle of Hauora Tangata, which recognises the dimensions of the physical body, spirituality, knowledge and understanding and the well-being of the entire whānau as the key principles of well-being. Secondly, Rangatiratanga affirms the freedom to choose our own Māori aspirations and the means to pursue them. In practice this means that research always is responsive to the needs of Māori. Thirdly, Manaaki Tangata upholds high standards of care and respect for the individuals and organisations with whom Whakauae Research interacts. Fourth, Mātauranga recognises the utilisation of both Māori and Western academic knowledge to support Māori ambitions. And finally, Ngākau Tapatahi me te Aurere is a tikanga at Whakauae Research where the team aims to create transformative change for Māori through their expertise, ethics, effort, sincere passion and commitment to excellence. From the start to the finish of every study endeavour, these tikanga that guide Whakauae Research are articulated and put into practice (Boulton 2020).

Communication landscapes of our tūpuna (ancestors)

Māori communication landscapes – which we are defining here as the what, why and how of knowledge sharing for the benefit of the whānau, hapū, and Iwi – reflect the specifics of tribal land, histories and stories expressed throughout te ao Māori (the Māori world). These communication landscapes situate the importance of whakapapa (genealogy), a cornerstone of Māori wellbeing (Boulton et al. 2021) and allow the exchange of knowledge, weaving together various strands of work to collectively achieve tribal aspirations. The ancestral communication landscapes of Māori are not simply about describing the past but equally define the present; they are alive today (Kawharu 2009). The examples of Māori communication landscapes provided below are not exhaustive, but rather, they reflect aspects that Whakauae Research builds on in their development of a new communication landscape for Māori research.

Mātauranga Māori

Mātauranga Māori refers to the traditional knowledge of Māori and the embodiment of that knowledge through language, values, ethics and cultural customs (Hikuroa 2017; Mead 2003; Paul-Burke et al. 2018; Royal 2009). Because Mātauranga Māori is refined and evolved in Aotearoa for centuries, it is considered both traditional and dynamic (King et al. 2007) and applicable today. The idea of an ancestral communication landscape for Māori represents the way in which mātauranga Māori, knowledge new and old, can be a ‘living thing’ that is passed on for the purposes of strength and wellbeing of whānau, hapū, Iwi and hapori Māori. In this way, mātauranga Māori is communicated to impart the place of someone or something within whānau, hapū and Iwi. A Māori world view thus frames how traditional knowledge was communicated and disseminated – not only through humans – where information and conversations traversed space and time, the seen and unseen, living and non-living.

Marae and pōwhiri

One of the central physical landscapes for ancestral communication was the marae, where social interaction, discussion and collective decision- making occurred. There was tikanga on how discussion was governed on the marae such as whakawhitiwhiti kōrero (talking criss-cross) or te haere o te rākau (passing the stick) which ensures all voices are heard (Metge 2001, Metge 2014). An example of the continued practice of ancestral communication is also in pōwhiri. Pōwhiri is a traditional welcoming process which includes karanga (call) and whaikōrero (formal speech). The whaikōrero includes a tauparapara (ritual chant) where the orator begins a conversation with atua (gods), stars, the sun and the earth to honour the visitor, or new staff member and to ask for care. At Rātā Marae, a marae of Ngāti Hauiti, the ruru (native owl) is the kaitiaki (spiritual guardian) and the kaikaranga (the woman whose voice is heard first on the Marae to call on the guests) is called the kairuru.

The karanga performed by a wāhine (woman) opens the spiritual realm safely for the pōwhiri. The whaikōrero continues with paying a tribute to ngā mate (the dead) and acknowledges the tūpuna (ancestors) and descendants of those present. Finally, acknowledgement to the marae, the earth mother Papatūānuku and all living things is made. From this ceremony the pōwhiri allows communication to resonate between humans, gods, earth and the dead.


In te ao Māori wānanga is a centuries old concept that provides a context in which knowledge is shared and translated. Wānanga cannot be fully expressed with a direct translation to English, without the understanding of Māori epistemology. Wānanga as a concept provides a space for coming together to communicate knowledge, yet it can be both a verb and noun. Smith (Smith et al. 2019) cites Pohatu and Warmenhoven that ‘through wānanga we are able to reflect and be reminded of our place in the universe’ (Pohatu and Warmenhoven 2007: 120), which centralises the collective production and communication of knowledge.

Smith et al. (2019) further explain that the concept of a thought- space wānanga dimension is not merely a space for ‘talking’ but allows participants to actively engage in collective problem-solving. The acknowledgement of mana motuhake (autonomy) functions as an explicit expression of reciprocity within a wānanga space. To knowledge- share is to value each participant’s contribution to the collective, and ‘it positions the knowledge gained through direct participation as a potential collective benefit’ (ibid: 2). In this way taonga tuku iho (knowledge that is handed down through ancestors) as well as ‘newer’ knowledge can be collectively translated, workshopped and understood as to how it relates on a shared as well as an individual level. In Māori culture, face-to-face communication is crucial because it embodies the idea of kanohi kitea, or ‘the seen face’ (Smith 1999: 120), which fosters trust.


Pūrākau is a term used to refer to Māori narratives from an Indigenous world view (Lee 2009). Traditional forms of Māori narrative are built from epistemological and philosophical foundations of fundamental Māori identity (ibid). Pūrākau is, thereby, a Māori understanding of translating and communicating knowledge in ways that are ‘familiar’ yet informative for the receiver of the narrative. Pūrākau can take many forms, including mōteatea (traditional chants), tauparapara (part of traditional speech making), waiata (traditional songs), karakia (prayer) and mahi toi (art); both written and oral, they hold enormous potentiality for contextual application in dissemination today. Lee (ibid) advocates for the use and construction of pūrākau in many contexts, media and innovative forms to help understand the lived experience of Māori.

Mahi Toi

Mahi Toi (art) plays a critical role in how Māori communicate our ways of knowing. This creativity, whether through whakairo (carving), raranga (weaving), tā moko (traditional tattoo), kōwhaiwhai (painting), to name just a few, explores how we see and understand our knowledge and world views. Mahi Toi thus provides an opportunity to assert what we know, apply a critical analysis lens and respond in a culturally competent and safe way to the transmission of knowledge (Dudley et al. 2014; Hokowhitu et al. 2020). The practice and meaning of these cultural markers are closely tied to ancestral knowledge, communicating intangible knowledge of importance to te ao Māori in a tangible way.

Traditional Western research dissemination

Within Western research contexts the issue of dissemination – which we define here as the act of passing on new research knowledge to all stakeholders (including research participants) for the purpose of effecting positive change – is an issue of contention. Historically, researchers considered their work complete upon submission of their results to a publisher. However, there is growing awareness that this passive, unfocused approach is ineffective in changing practices of people and service providers (Edwards 2015). In Aotearoa New Zealand, research participants are often excluded from the research process as the dissemination of findings is frequently left until the very end of the research cycle and is not considered from the outset of the research. The distribution of research findings is predominantly presented at professional conferences (where participants are rarely invited) or in peer-reviewed books and papers (which may be blocked by paywalls). The Māori principle of whanaungatanga (relationality), which emphasises the value of continual networks and relationship building, is directly at odds with this (Haar and Delaney 2009). Participants may not be included or invited to participate in research from the outset and this lack of involvement means they are not given priority in the dissemination process. Often, research participants receive research outcomes that are not location-specific, relevant or helpful to advancing health equity for Māori. Dissemination to Māori audiences can be irrelevant, vague, non-meaningful or in some cases, inappropriate. This inequity in dissemination to Indigenous audiences means participants can feel disengaged, unheard and unappreciated, and likely to distrust the research community (Boulton 2020).

The gap between research and positive impacts for Māori is a substantive concern (Smith et al. 2019). As Māori researchers we posit that effective dissemination is the bridge that spans the gap between research and policy, research and practice, and between research and the lived experiences of whānau Māori. While understanding the importance of dissemination is the first step to good research practice, the nuances of how to define and enact dissemination are complex and layered. The understanding of how we communicate not just our research findings, but our research journey and the journeying of whānau as participants alongside us, is a vital component of our research process. The ability to mobilise knowledge, to communicate what is valuable for Māori wellbeing thereby requires a systematic approach that considers the different priorities between researchers and practitioners, policy makers and whānau.

The TUI (translation, uptake and impact) communication framework

Whakauae Research has a commitment to communicating new knowledge for maximum impact. However, when we look at existing models that could span the divide between research and Indigenous wellbeing outcomes, we are unable to find an approach that takes into account the nuances and understandings we have as an Iwi-owned research centre.

The development of our own model of dissemination is thus a way to articulate and define the principal parts of the dissemination process within the context of Whakauae Research’s values, goals and responsibilities. The resulting TUI framework refers to the key aspects of dissemination as ‘Translation, Uptake and Impact’. In Aotearoa New Zealand, the Tuī is a native bird, significant to Māori in its role as a messenger between Atua (gods) and humans. The Tuī, as a mediator of communications in te ao Māori, is used here as a metaphor in the TUI framework where the activities aim to transform research findings across systems and worlds (see Figure 1).

Translation is defined as the translation of key messages (from research findings and other insights) into communications that the intended key audience can easily understand and relate to and, in particular, privileges whānau, hapori Māori, hapū and iwi. Translation is represented by the korokoro (throat) of the Tuī, whose unique call translates important information between different stakeholders (from whānau to decision makers).

Uptake refers to key messages resulting in changes to how something (e.g., health services) is designed or delivered. The wings of the Tuī represent the ‘uptake’ of the information – the actioning of the message through the flying and movement of the Tuī.

Impact is the result (on a micro, meso or macro level) of changes that occur in response to research findings and other insights. The Impact of the research is represented by the seeds – ngā kākano – dropped by the Tuī across the forest floor resulting in new life and growth.

Figure 1: Whakauae research’s translation uptake and impact framework

The TUI framework is an aspirational representation of three central tenets within dissemination discourse and identifies three different, yet intrinsically connected stages in the ‘research to change’ journey, meaning the way in which research results in positive change for Māori.

The framework is based around a set of essential principles that capture Whakauae Research’s Iwi and community specific context, grounding any dissemination plan or activities in line with our tikanga (ethics) and aspirations. The framework also reflects the combined expertise and experience of the Whakauae Research kaimahi (workers) and kairangahau (researchers). As such, the TUI dissemination framework is:

  • Based on relationships and Kaupapa Māori practice, which means that dissemination is part of honouring the ongoing relationship with whānau and partners.

  • Prioritised as part of our research practice, which means that as whānau who participate in research offer us a taonga (treasure), we concentrate our efforts on giving voice to their taonga for maximum positive impact.

  • Flexible, adaptable and reflexive, which means that we utilise TUI as a learning process where we measure what we do and change as we need to.

  • An inclusive and partnered process, which means that dissemination is a dialogue, a bottom-up approach that includes whānau, hapū, iwi and hapori Māori.

  • Accessible and meaningful, which means that our dissemination builds a bridge between ‘experts’ and community by speaking the same language.

  • Innovative, bold and creative, which means that we approach communication and design with an experimental, context specific end-user focus.

  • Solutions focused, which means that knowledge translation is designed as ‘actionable intelligence’ that provides whānau-centred aspirations.

The TUI framework, which is designed for research projects throughout the research process, entails three specific stages, which are worked through cyclically during the life of a project. Stage one of this process is the planning phase, which poses questions around the intended aims, audience/stakeholders and key messaging to purpose-design an event, product, or activity to communicate that intention. The second stage of the process consists of the ‘roll-out’ of the planned dissemination. The third stage is the phase of reflectively engaging with the dissemination process and outcomes. Here targeted questions are answered to gather learnings on whether the dissemination achieved its (intended) success. Questions include asking what worked well within the dissemination activity, which networks and relationships affected the dissemination process, and which lessons could be learned to inform future translation, uptake and impact efforts.

The TUI framework is built around the understanding that all translation, uptake and impact is influenced by a range of external contexts, including political climate and values, professional ‘norms’ and timing of dissemination activities. As such, the TUI approach is a holistic model, which always situates and acknowledges that we are part of a complex, evolving world and part of a collective of people.

TUI supports emergent, ‘learn-as-we-go’ practices, providing researchers a focused perspective and logical process to follow in a field where previous approaches to problems have failed. Therefore, we encourage researchers to adopt distinct mindsets such as ‘working in the grey’ (being comfortable with ambiguity and not knowing the answers) when using the TUI framework. We frame up ‘working in the grey’ – Kia noho tau i te rangirua – with whakataukī Māori (traditional expressions) to keep a te ao Māori lens inside and outside of the work (see Figure 2). The TUI framework provides quick feedback loops as the research output is generated, measuring the anticipated future state of the research project and capturing insights. TUI enables researchers to envision and comprehend the effects of the dissemination of their work at the micro (individual) and meso (group) levels, while also offering a whole-systems or macro lens to the social problems they are trying to tackle.

Figure 2: Mindsets for research impact within the TUI framework

An Indigenous communication ‘toolkit’

Communication pathways as embedded in the TUI framework, are grounded in our understanding of knowledge (mātauranga), ethics (tikanga) and communication alongside methods and approaches from a Western context of research dissemination. The idea of a ‘toolkit’ focuses on the part of the communication process that deals with the ‘how’, or the channel that is used to reach the intended audience (Nan et al. 2022).

While the TUI framework is deeply anchored in our Māori worldview, we look to new communication examples trialled by innovative researchers around the world. Although some research dissemination is adopting digital networks and internet technologies, the formats and functions of scholarly information have been slow to innovate beyond traditional modes of print. With the growing understanding among researchers that ‘as many as 50% of papers are not read by anyone other than the authors, referees, and journal editors of a piece’ (Henriksen and Mishra 2019: 393) researchers are forced to ‘think outside the box’ of research dissemination.

Nevertheless, emerging examples of innovative dissemination methods include: the use of podcasting for health education (Mobasheri and Costello 2021); the use of digital platforms and social media (Lord et al. 2011); animation of social work research findings (Rose and Flynn 2018); community-oriented infographics (Huang et al. 2018); Covid-19 health messaging via graphic comics (Kearns and Kearns 2020); and street theatre (Henriksen and Mishra 2019), to name just a few.

The use of the TUI framework stages, especially during the planning phase, facilitates Whakauae researchers to innovatively package up and distribute key messages to identified stakeholders. Up to date this has resulted in a variety of new dissemination outputs, including online blogs, media releases and the presentation of research findings in easily accessible and understandable graphic formats, including infographics and community- and rangatahi (youth)-focused mini-reports. New project websites are created to allow for engaging access to research from the outset, as well as a place to host and present newly developed short videos that are focused on delivering potentially complex messaging in clear and engaging ways to whānau and community. The TUI framework process also facilitated the development of a free online symposium on rongoā Māori (traditional Māori healing), which brought together whānau, healers, funders and Crown agencies.

The TUI framework was also used to develop a tohu (logo) for the research programme ‘Kia Puāwai’, which features a ruru (owl), a significant kaitiaki (spiritual guardian) to Ngāti Hauiti as depicted on the tomokanga (entrance archway) of their Marae, Rātā. Whilst this research output is relatively simple, it has become a symbolic tohu incorporating imagery to Ngāti Hauiti and captures the depth and growth of the research programme, whilst giving voice to the flourishing aspirations of the research participants. The tohu (see Figure 3) reflects the Ruru, who ushers in te pō (the night) as depicted in a whakataukī (ancient wisdom): ‘Kia whakarongo ake au ki te ruru e karanga ana... pō pō keo keo — I hear the Ruru calling pō pō keo keo’ (Steedman 2003). As a significant visual anchor that recognises the whakapapa of its participants and the thriving goals of all partners and whānau involved in the project, Kia Puāwai employs the tohu in their research dissemination across many mediums including online, in video and print.

The TUI communication toolkit thus contains diverse and novel ways to step away from traditional top-down and ‘one-size fits all’ communication of research. As such, the TUI initiatives represent an evolving mapping of what approach, activity, or ‘product’ suits which context, community and intended purpose for the dissemination.

Figure 3: The Kia Puāwai logo draws its inspiration from the ruru, an owl of significance to Ngāti Hauiti

Māori research communication as a pathway to change

There is growing recognition that the full transformative potential of Māori research for change and impact ‘on the ground’ is not yet realised and addressing the deficiencies in research dissemination amongst Māori groups is a priority on the policy agenda (Health Research Council of New Zealand 2020). In Aotearoa New Zealand, the national health research strategy highlights that the ‘lack of translation [of research] has led to many missed opportunities for improving health outcomes’ (Ministry of Business Innovation Employment 2017: 19). Furthermore, major health research funding bodies in Aotearoa New Zealand call for research that has clear research-to-impact pathways through knowledge translation (Health Research Council of New Zealand 2020). The cost of not improving research dissemination is the retention of the current status quo of poor health outcomes for Māori. Thinking about dissemination in an impactful way, researchers have an opportunity to redress the imbalance caused by deficit research about Māori to ensure hope, optimism and the mana (authority) of people are strengthened in the interactions with research.

The design of the TUI framework is a direct response to our experiences of health research that is undertaken without considering the powerful role dissemination has in contributing to transformative change. With the recognition that the pathway from research to practice is ‘complex, lengthy, and rarely completed’ (Holt and Chambers 2017: 389) and where only a minority of health-related research results in actual changes in health care, it is vital to find new ways to communicate complex issues across complex human systems.

Being cognisant of the challenges to research uptake, including the issue of timely, targeted and understandable ‘repackaging’ of knowledge (World Health Organisation 2005), the TUI process allows us to be targeted, responsive and creative. We are thinking about how the change we can make is relevant and sustainable. By thinking through a systems lens and recognising our role as researchers within a highly complex health system, we see the potential of translating information for a traditionally disengaged, undervalued and ignored audience.

Ultimately, Māori health research needs to work towards transformation of health equity for Māori. The unique space TUI occupies in the research- to-impact space is at the intersection of systems change and the ethical communication continuum which takes an unapologetic and explicit te ao Māori lens on all research activities. Systems transformation is conceptualised as a means of promoting and igniting social change and shifting the characteristics and properties of system behaviours that are not working for Māori. The holistic, relational and temporal worldview of te ao Māori is complemented by applying a systems thinking perspective to research dissemination since they both place an emphasis on emergence and symmetry within intricate webs of interaction (Capra and Luisi 2014).

By taking a holistic (or ‘systemic’) approach, systems change holds the idea of focusing on the roots of a societal issue rather than its symptoms. If we consider the notion that systems change is about ‘shifting the conditions that are holding the problem in place’ (Kania et al. 2018: 1), then the TUI process enables a ‘bird’s eye view’ to the problems as well as the solutions. By allowing researchers to navigate and fly between the micro, meso and macro-level lenses within the TUI framework, system problems are broken down into their underlying patterns and attributes to understand what is holding system problems in place. This is especially important when the environments (which give rise to the problems and solutions) are constantly shifting, including the recent large-scale health reforms in Aotearoa New Zealand.

For us as Māori researchers, the translation of research into transformative outcomes is a foundational principle of research in accordance with our tikanga. The commitment to share knowledge and translate research ‘into direct and positive transforming outcomes’ (Smith et al. 2019: 6) underpins not just the reason for the creation of the Whakauae TUI framework, but moreover, how TUI operationalises an Indigenous way of dissemination. The construction of the TUI framework has drawn on our Indigenous positioning to liberate knowledge sharing in accordance with our values. The TUI framework focuses on our responsibility as knowledge holders, or knowledge-conduits, to honour the understanding of the importance of this position. It also honours the connection between us as researchers and the people who told their stories for this knowledge to arise. For us, knowledge communication is, thus, a part of the ‘relational world’ and has an ‘important dimension of transforming colonial conditions and informing decolonizing futures’ (Smith et al. 2019: 4).


Indigenous knowledge is highly varied and built with a wealth of experience. This knowledge is contextualised to space and time. The ability for Indigenous concepts and contexts to inform knowledge translation and dissemination continues to gain traction for Indigenous communities around the world. The idea of disseminating knowledge is in no way ‘new’ to Māori. If we define knowledge translation as an engaged, iterative process of creation, synthesis and ethically-sound application of knowledge, then Māori have embedded this within foundational cultural practices. By constructing the TUI framework, we are able to draw on our mātauranga Māori (Māori understanding) of how knowledge – and its communication – are understood in te ao Māori. In this way the TUI framework takes up the call from Smith, in which she challenges traditional and conventional Western ways of knowing or conducting research and to use the research process as a decolonising tool (Smith 1999).

By creating a communication framework that goes beyond the ‘business as usual’ dissemination of research, TUI positions this activity as knowledge brokering, or ‘evidence mediation’ (McAnnally-Linz et al. 2021). To mediate evidence means facilitating the flow of knowledge as a deliberate dialogue; a dialogue that centres on the participants of the research (whānau, hapū, Iwi and hapori Māori) and targets wider stakeholders and decision-makers, with a deliberate aim to foster meaningful change. Using the TUI framework furthermore encourages us to facilitate knowledge exchange opportunities and to reconfigure the forms that this exchange might take. It also seeks to challenge any Western-research notions of the power-imbalances set up by Western research methods between researchers and their ‘subjects’. When we acknowledge our role in research as conduits of knowledge towards the larger picture of change for whānau, hapū, Iwi and hapori Māori, we are able to look for new forms of communication that change well-worn, colonial and deeply embedded false narratives about our people. Cloaked in the protective korowai (prized feather cloak) of Whakauae Research’s tikanga, the TUI framework is a scalable tool which allows research projects to spread their wings.


Kupu Māori




Hapori Māori

Māori community/communities




tribe, tribal


the woman whose voice is heard first on the Marae to call on the guest







kanohi kitea

the seen face





Kaupapa Māori research

Māori-centred research






prized feather cloak







mana motuhake


mātauranga Māori

Māori knowledge and understanding




traditional chant








native owl

tā moko

traditional tattoo

tangata whenua

Indigenous peoples of the land



taonga tuku iho

knowledge passed down from ancestors


ritual chant to open a kōrero

te Ao Māori

the Māori world

te haere o te rākau

passing the stick (conversation)

te pō

the night

te reo Māori

Māori language


ethics, values



toi/ mahi toi



entrance archway


Translation, Uptake and Impact framework


native bird








formal speech






whakawhitiwhiti kōrero

talking criss-cross




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Note on the contributors

Dr Tanya Allport is from the Te Āti Awa o Te Waka a Māui tribe of Aotearoa New Zealand. Tanya has worked in various Indigenous research areas, including Treaty of Waitangi research, and has managed local and national research programmes focusing on Māori wellbeing and health policy impacts. As a senior researcher for Whakauae Research, Tanya’s special areas of interest include looking at solutions for Māori housing, as well as Māori health research translation, uptake, and impact.

Tom Johnson (Te Ati Haunui-a-Pāpārangi, Mōkai Pātea Nui Tonu) is a PhD candidate at Auckland University of Technology (AUT) and researcher at Whakauae Research based in Whanganui. With a background in community-led health prototyping his research focus is on wellbeing rituals informed by kōrero tuku iho, and how they can be applied to advance Tāne Māori wellbeing in te ao hurihuri.

Meretini Bennett-Huxtable is from the tribal region that begins from the sacred mountains of the Central Plateau region of Aotearoa. Meretini works in the health sector at the Māori health provider Te Oranganui, but her core interests for research as a student are centred on using innovation to develop new opportunities to tell and measure narratives as Indigenous people.

Conflict of interest

The Translation Uptake and Impact activities at Whakauae Research are part-funded by the Health Research Council of New Zealand. There are no conflicts

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