Rangatiratanga and Oritetanga: responses to the Treaty of Waitangi in a New Zealand study

Ethn Health. 2010 Jun;15(3):303-16. doi: 10.1080/13557851003721194.


Introduction: Although opportunities exist for positive experiences in research, Maori in New Zealand, like other indigenous people colonised by Europeans in the nineteenth century, have also been subject to research and associated policies that have had long-lasting negative consequences. Researchers have subsequently been challenged by Maori to conduct research that is acceptable, accountable and relevant. Much of this debate has taken place within the framework of the Treaty of Waitangi, a treaty of cession signed between Maori and British Crown representatives in 1840. Nowadays, health and health research statutes exist that require researchers to respond to the 'principles' of the Treaty. Few practical examples of how health researchers have undertaken this have been published.

Aims: We examine how, in developing a national study of injury outcomes, we responded to the Treaty. Our study, the Prospective Outcomes of Injury Study, aims to quantitatively identify predictors of disability following injury and to qualitatively explore experiences and perceptions of injury outcomes.

Discussion: Responses to the Treaty included: consultation with Maori groups, translation of the questionnaire into te reo Maori, appointment of interviewers fluent in te reo Maori, sufficient numbers of Maori participants to allow Maori-specific analyses and the inclusion of a Maori-specific qualitative component. While this article is located within the New Zealand context, we believe it will resonate with, and be of relevance to, health researchers in other former settler societies. We do not contend this project represents an 'ideal' model for undertaking population-based research. Instead, we hope that by describing our efforts at responding to the Treaty, we can prompt wider debate of the complex realities of the research environment, one which is scientifically, ethically and culturally located.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Health Services, Indigenous / ethics
  • Health Services, Indigenous / history*
  • Health Services, Indigenous / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Healthcare Disparities*
  • History, 19th Century
  • History, 20th Century
  • History, 21st Century
  • Humans
  • International Cooperation*
  • Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander*
  • New Zealand
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Research
  • Wounds and Injuries