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Rolling Out the Mat: A Talanoa on Talanoa as a Higher Education Research Methodology

Theory and Method in Higher Education Research

ISBN: 978-1-80043-321-2, eISBN: 978-1-80043-320-5

Publication date: 9 November 2020


The Pasifika (Pacific Island) research methodology talanoa (conversation) has contemporary resonance beyond its local context. At the recent Bonn Climate Change Conference, for example, talanoa was adopted to spark international dialogue about our collective futures. But this and other recent instances raise the question as to whether and how talanoa can and should be applied in a non-Indigenous context – or, indeed, online. As a culturally diverse research team, we undertook a talanoa about our experience of researching historical literacy with Māori and Pasifika students through talanoa. Here we introduce what we learnt from the literature about the nature of talanoa, its use as a methodology, and its application in higher education and reproduce our own recent online talanoa on the experience of learning to do talanoa together. Three key lessons emerged from our research conversation. Firstly, we learnt that time is of the essence: researchers must carefully balance the need for the talanoa to run its natural course with the need to not overburden the participants. Secondly, we learnt that where the researchers undertake the talanoa is less important than attending to the relationships (the ) between the researchers and participants, and the researchers and participants themselves. And, finally, in keeping with what some Māori researchers and their allies have argued of Kaupapa Māori research methodology, we learnt that indigenous methodologies like talanoa, when employed with care and in recognition of their emergence out of decolonial struggles for indigenous sovereignty and self-determination, can foster a fruitful intercultural research conversation.




We are grateful for support from the New Zealand Teaching and Learning Research Initiatives Fund for work on this chapter.


Hindley, P., November, N., Sturm, S. and Wolfgramm-Foliaki, '. (2020), "Rolling Out the Mat: A Talanoa on Talanoa as a Higher Education Research Methodology", Huisman, J. and Tight, M. (Ed.) Theory and Method in Higher Education Research (Theory and Method in Higher Education Research, Vol. 6), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 99-113.



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