Maori Ethical Frameworks

While respect is a universal principle with no prescribed method of practice, there are some key Maori concepts that can act as a guide to researchers. There have been a small number of ethical frameworks developed specifically from a Maori perspective. Each framework seems to contain within it a similar set of values that inform research practices and ethical processes.

Community-Up Model (Smith & Cram, 2001)

Linda Smith and Fiona Cram (2001) have outlined some key Maori values that are important in entering into a respectful research process. They have also articulated within a model, how these values would be used in a practical research setting. These are:


This concept refers to the building and maintaining of relationships in the Maori context. Russell Bishop (1998) defines it as the process of establishing meaningful, reciprocal and familial relationships through culturally appropriate ways, establishing connectedness and engagement and therefore a deeper commitment to other people.


This concept refers to sharing, hosting and being generous. "This is a value that underpins a collaborative approach to research, one that enables knowledge to flow both ways and that acknowledges the researcher as a learner and not just a data gatherer or observer. It also facilitates the process of 'giving back', of sharing results and of bringing closure if that is required for a project but not for a relationship" (Smith & Cram, 2001, p. 98).


Aroha is literally translated as 'love' in English, but is also a term used for respect. To treat people with respect is to allow them to define their own space and meet on their own terms (Smith & Cram, 2001).


Mahaki relates to humility. "This is about finding ways to share knowledge, to be generous with knowledge without being a 'show-off' or being arrogant. Sharing knowledge is about empowering a process, but the community has to empower itself" (Smith & Cram, 2001).


Mana is a term that relates to power, dignity and respect. "Kaua e takahia te mana o te tangata"  Do not trample on the mana or dignity of a person. This is about informing people and guarding against being paternalistic or impatient because people do not know what the researcher may know" (Smith & Cram, 2001).

Titiro, whakarongo, korero

To look, and listen first and then maybe speaking. "This value emphasizes the importance of looking/observing and listening in order to develop understandings and find a place from which to speak" (Smith & Cram, 2001).

Kia Tupato - Be cautious

This suggests that researchers need to be politically astute, culturally safe, and reflective about their insider/outsider status. It is also a caution to insiders and outsiders that in community research, things can come undone without the researcher being aware or being told directly.  (Smith & Cram, 2001).