This case study emphasizes recruitment and retention of indigenous participants in longitudinal studies. It relies on ethical methods that support the participants throughout the research and the integrity of assessment and protection of data. Working alongside indigenous New Zealand Māori whānau (Māori communities and families) requires specific processes. To this end, the research team needs to have knowledge of whānau and an understanding of Māori culture. The process underscores good and ethically based research practice.
This case study describes the development of a Māori-centered approach to New Zealand whānau in a longitudinal doctoral study (Family Recollections and Social Contributions to Māori Children's Learning in the South Island, New Zealand). The doctoral work focuses on the links between whānau conversations and reported home learning practices in relation to young children's school readiness. We explore how this whānau-based method was conceptualized, actioned, and how it builds upon and integrates two independent systems (whānau knowledge and western psychological science). It considers and applies indigenous whānau ethics to increase many iterations of meaningful engagement between the research team and whānau. As a result of these processes, a total of 54 whānau enrolled in the study. This case study covers the strategies used to engage with whānau, to promote whanau-based research processes, and to identify areas for improvement. We conclude the case study with lessons learned from this research that works toward the goal of beneficial research for whānau, potentially to other indigenous families and their children's school readiness.