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Rongomātau – ‘sensing the knowing’: An Indigenous Methodology Utilising Sensed Knowledge From the Researcher.

Kiri Dell

2021 Aotearoa New Zealand

The paper offers a methodology, stimulated by an Indigenous-Maori context, called rongomatau, or ‘sensing the knowing’. Rongomatau recognises the researcher as an absorbent being, with capabilities to feel into the energetic lives of others. More specifically, participant energies can be sensed and imprinted onto researchers. Sensing and identifying the felt world of another is done through recognising the researcher’s own embodied emotions. The intention of this paper is to provide a methodology for interpreting the ‘imprinted’ sensing onto the researcher and for its meaningful analysis. Traditional Western philosophies of knowledge creation have tended to regard bodily ways of knowing other than the five traditional (in Western terms) bodily senses as incapable of contributing to genuine knowledge. However, Indigenous communities have not marginalised their bodies from the generation of knowledge and have paradigms that reflect sensing and its integration into knowledge. The paper demonstrates how Indigenous concepts and language can be utilised to bring new perspectives to sensing in research. To do so, the author provides an insider account of her own imprinted sensed experiences in conducting a specific research project and how these contributed to her findings. The methodology involves the collection and analysis of data through a frame of three dimensions: connecting in (self-inner world), connecting out (external physical world) and connecting to the whole (higher/ spiritual consciousness), to achieve holistic ways of theorising. The rongomatau methodology is applicable in non-Indigenous contexts and can help researchers integrate their senses into research. Methodologies that help researchers interpret and give meaning to their sensing experiences remain largely unavailable. This paper begins to address that gap.

indigenous knowledge, maori emotions, indigenous epistemologies, emotions in research