Creating a safe space for difficult conversations

Kia hiwa ra! encourages learners to gather multiple perspectives around issues that are important to us. This requires openness, courage, and the ability to listen and reflect without judgement. Developing an awareness of these skills may be an important first step before learners embark on research in your community.

Linda Tuhiwai Smith identified seven Māori values, or uarā, for safe research practices within her book Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples (1999) and other researchers, such as Fiona Cram, have developed them further. These are now often referred to as Community-Up Research Practices, and recognised as robust principles for all researchers to be guided by – including our ākonga.

Aroha ki te tangata
Respect for people

He kanohi kitea
Be a face that is seen

Titiro, whakarongo … kōrero
Look, listen, and then later speak

Manaaki ki te tangata
Look after people

Kia tupato
Be careful

Kaua e takahia te mana o te tangata
Do not trample on the mana of people

Kia mahaki
Be humble

Present each of these headings to your learners and outline what each of these statement means, brainstorm together potential symbols or images to illustrate each of the uarā.

  • What would each uarā, or value, look like, feel like, or sound like?
  • What would you expect to see if someone was using these uarā to inform the way they asked questions of people in their community?
  • What is the emphasis within these values? If someone was unable to read them, and you had to describe them to someone else what other words would you use?

In small groups, ākonga could brainstorm ideas for creating safe spaces around difficult conversations using these principles.

Share ideas collectively and together develop a class set of practices and guidelines for creating safe spaces around difficult conversations – draw on this actively when Kia hiwa rā! requires ākonga to gather diverse community perspectives.