Working across the cultural divide in evaluation: roles, challenges and benefits
In Aotearoa New Zealand, the role of non-Maori evaluators in evaluation with and in M?ori communities, organizations and tribes has been, and continues to be, a contested space. (Maori are the indigenous people of New Zealand, and approximately 15% of the New Zealand population.)
In more recent times there has been an increased emphasis in the commissioning of evaluation of Maori evaluators leading or playing significant and meaningful role in studies that have a primary focus on Maori. This is largely due to the socio-political history of New Zealand, the status given to the Treaty of Waitangi (the founding document of New Zealand) and Maori aspirations for self-determination.
Making space for my friends is how I now come to recognize and value the contribution that non-Maori can make to the Maori evaluation context, within clearly understood parameters. I am more clear about what my bottom line is, as Maori, in terms of non-Maori participation and their roles in this space (see the recent JMDE article I coauthored with Jane Davidson, Kate McKegg, and Vidhya Shanker, entitled: What Does it Take to do Evaluation in Communities and Cultural Contexts Other Than Our Own?)
Given the contested nature of this space for non-M?ori evaluators and for evaluators working across diverse cultural contexts and settings begs the following questions:
- How do they come to be in this space?
- What are the roles they play in this space?
- What are the challenges of working in this space?
- What are the benefits of working in this space?