Fiona Cram

Special Issue

Lessons on Decolonizing Evaluation From Kaupapa Māori Evaluation


Kaupapa Māori is literally a Māori way. It is a reclaiming by Māori (Indigenous peoples of Aotearoa New Zealand) of a future that is founded within a Māori worldview; a future where cultural knowledge and values inform understandings of and responses to Māori needs, priorities, and aspirations. Self-determination, cultural aspirations, and the importance of familial relationships and collectivity are among the central elements evident in Kaupapa Māori development initiatives. The culturally responsive evaluation of these initiatives builds upon traditional commitments to information management and the updating of Māori knowledge. Kaupapa Māori evaluation looks "inwards" to assess development on Māori terms, and "outwards" in a structural analysis of other facilitators of and barriers to that development. After more than 20 years of Kaupapa Māori evaluation, it is timely to ask what learning might helpfully be shared with other Indigenous peoples to support their desire for the culturally responsive evaluation of development initiatives they experience. A Kaupapa Māori evaluation lens will be described and then used to critique international development evaluation to facilitate decolonization. Audiences for this article include development efforts led by the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs within the South Pacific, and international development efforts led by organizations such as UNESCO that are developing equity evaluation approaches.