Te Ara Tika Step One: Kia Tupato

Why do you need to consider responsiveness to Māori in your research?

Treaty of Waitangi obligations

All researchers must acknowledge Māori as tangata whenua. This involves consideration of Māori rights under Te Tiriti o Waitangi Treaty. At the very least, many agencies suggest that researchers should have regard for the Treaty principles according to the Waitangi Tribunal (see below) and respect for mana, tikanga and Māori values. As the National Ethics Committee states, “All health research carried out in Aotearoa is of relevance to Māori. How relevant, is a decision to be made by Māori.” Importantly, describing the context and the relevance of the proposed research to Māori will serve as a prerequisite for determining the scope and kind of consultation required.​​​​​​​

Principles   Application to responsiveness to Māori in research
Partnership The Treaty requires each party to act with the utmost good faith towards the other. It includes the duty to consult with Māori and obtain full, free and informed consent.
Reciprocity The partnership is reciprocal for mutual advantage and benefit.
Autonomy The Crown guaranteed to protect Māori autonomy in recognition of the promises of kawanatanga and tino rangatiratanga, including Māori rights to determine Māori processes and priorities.
Active protection The Crown’s duty to protect Māori rights and interests. The duty is not passive but active and requires honourable conduct, full consultation and, where appropriate, decision-making by those whose interests are to be protected.
Options   Māori have options stemming from both traditional/customary practices and modern possibilities.
Mutual benefit The Treaty was signed for mutual benefit and Māori were to retain resources to ensure the colonisation of New Zealand was not detrimental.
Equity The obligations that require the Crown to act fairly so that Māori were/are not disadvantaged. Where Māori have been disadvantaged, the Crown is required to take active measures to restore the balance.  
Equal treatment Requires the Crown to act fairly between Māori groups.
Redress Where the Crown has acted in breach of its obligations and Māori have suffered prejudice, the Crown has a clear duty to set matters right. In respect of historical grievances, this usually requires compromise on both sides and redress should not create a fresh injustice.

Table from​​​​​​​ Reid, P., Paine, S. J., Curtis, E., Jones, R., Anderson, A., Willing, E., & Harwood, M. (2017). Achieving health equity in Aotearoa: strengthening responsiveness to Māori in health research. The New Zealand Medical Journal, 130(1465), 96-103.

Additionally, the University of Auckland holds delegated Crown (Treaty of Waitangi) responsibility for public funds and is accountable for researchers at the University of Auckland meeting these obligations. HRC and ethics committee requirements cannot be met without consideration of these issues. Consideration is also needed for faculty sign off.

Equity reasons

Māori experience poorer health outcomes than non-Māori in nearly all areas. Research should acknowledge these inequities and aim to mitigate them. Your research should not contribute to perpetuating or increasing these inequities - either passively by ignoring them, or more actively through inappropriate methodology, recruitment or analysis. If you wish to examine issues relating to health in New Zealand, Māori cannot be ignored - both as tangata whenua, and as a significant population group in New Zealand. For example, if data is analysed only at a total population level, the majority “voice” will remain privileged, and the status quo of health inequities maintained.

Equity is a priority for the health sector, and if you don't consider equity in your proposal, it may be less compelling for government funding.


If you want to see the outcomes of your research disseminated and used effectively, either in the community, in policy or in practice, thinking about how your research addresses and responds to Māori health is critical. The sections in Te Ara Tika on Whakapapa and Tika also pose key questions about the value and perspective of your research, which are useful to reflect on.​​​​​​​