Lending Māori Artistic Practice Structures to Academic Research and Writing: Mahi-Toi


Māori (Indigenous New Zealand) researchers may have one or many mahi-toi (artistic) talents. All mahi-toi are ideas brought forth from the conceptual world into the physical realm by mahi-ā-ringa (work with hands), and the practitioner is the conduit. When the mahi-toi practitioner is also the researcher and vice-versa, the vernaculars in both circles enrich and give structure, depth and stability to each other. Despite divergences in materials and technologies across the disciplines, when traditional processes - such as carving, weaving, through to performing and composing kapahaka (Māori performing arts) - are placed side-by-side, the parallels between them are unmistakable. Every practice has a distinctive pre-production, production and post-production phase that have survived long artistic histories. Setting the mahi-toi practices beside writing and researching lends an artistic, structural, theoretical and analytical framework that may be useful for both researchers (Māori and non-Māori) and mahi-toi practitioners, and particularly for those practitioners who make the transition to academic research and writing.As an emerging academic and traditional arts practitioner, I had an epiphany as to why my writing and researching was not to the standard of my artistic practice: that I was not translating the fastidiousness, self-editing, self-criticism, and caution taken in my arts into my writing and research. This presentation explores Mahi-toi as a scaffolding for a theoretical framework and writing structure for Māori scholars – and it is hoped, beyond Māori - in arts disciplines.

Author Information
Jani Wilson, Te Ara Poutama: School of Māori and Indigenous Development, Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand

Paper Information
Conference: IICEHawaii2018
Stream: Challenging & Preserving: Culture, Inter/Multiculturalism & Language

This paper is part of the IICEHawaii2018 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon