Meaningful Engagement

Clark TuagaluResearch with Pacific peoples is not a short term exercise as The Health Research Council of New Zealand (HRC, 2004) has reported:

“Meaningful engagement goes beyond consultation, to forming a relationship that is sustained and maintained, on-going and deepening” (p. 21).

An example of how this can be established is that capability skills can be built within the community group by including them in the planning phase, data collection, handling data, report writing and editing stages. For Pacific peoples, an initial meeting is based on developing relationships on an emotional level, particularly with researchers about whom they know very little (HRC, 2004). A good way for researchers to facilitate this type of engagement is for them to  create an environment where people feel safe to share their concerns, interests and ideas without judgment. This may require researchers to put their professionalism to one side to interact with Pacific people on a personal level (HRC, 2004). This process provides an opportunity for researchers to understand the importance of connection to Pacific people-  how they are bound within their relationships. For example, allocate time to get to know other people about how they make sense of the world in terms of Pacific ways of knowing. HRC (2004) points out:

“Through appreciating the context and location of a person, one can enhance their understanding of that person’s individual competencies” (p. 21). Therefore, researchers must understand the consultation process in order to establish meaningful relationships with Pacific peoples (HRC, 2004).

Contributed by Clark Tuagalu

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