Data collection methods in the Pacific context

Research of the people, by the people, for the people of the Pacific

The Pacific region has a rich oral heritage, that can be seen in Pasifika narratives, songs and dances.  A specific form of interview, Talanoa Methods has been specifically developed for research in the Pacific region.  Talanoa is a culturally relevant and respectful methodological approach, based at the intersection of Critical Theory, Kaupapa Mäori Theorising and Tongan Kakala framing. Some of the key proponents of the Talanoa method are Nabobo-Baba and Timoti Vaioleti

The methodology is situated within cultural worldviews, knowledge systems, lived experiences, and values of the people being represented and re-presented through research.

Talanoa is at times equated with face-to-face interaction methodology.  However, Talanoa is more than that.  Talanoa respects cultural conceptualizations of how things ‘should be’.  It is about being respectfully aware of cultural protocols and practices, values, ethics, philosophies, and principles around knowledge sharing.  It is also about having the cultural understanding of what/when/where/how/why certain knowledge can and can’t be made available to different interlocutors.

Talanoa is a collaborative storytelling practice, which ranks from informal<——->formal and can occur at all levels of society.  Talanoa is about knowledge sharing and power sharing between researcher and participant(s).  Importantly, Talanoa is about reciprocity and continuity of relationship: end of research does not mark the end but the beginning of a relationship between the researcher and participant(s).

Summary of Talanoa epistemology

  • Accountability: Meaningful reporting and meaningful feedback
  • Win/win: Research should benefit the researched community
    Reciprocity: Giving back to the immediate participants and the wider community in both the short-term and long-term
  • Cultural sensitivity: Taking into account participants’ cultural values, knowledge processes, protocols around knowledge sharing
  • Insider Perspective: Researcher fluency in the language to be able to verify culturally grounded concepts
  • Ethical approval: Inform the people about the research, have the people’s permission to do the research

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Farzana Gounder
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