This article has been inspired by “Why Isn’t My Professor Māori?” (McAllister et al., 2019), an article which appeared in this journal and addressed the under-representation of, and inequities facing, Māori academic staff in universities in Aotearoa New Zealand. I present some personal reflections and raise some questions with regard to academics with Māori heritage but who struggle to identify as Māori. I also describe some of the discomfort of being in the “middle ground” of cultural identity and how this has come about, and argue that we need to engage with such troubled identities and histories if we are to decolonise ourselves and our universities.
Research indicates that claiming a contemporary identity as Pākehā is being redefined by those individuals who engage closely with Te Ao Māori. This reopens the discussion of the implications for Pākehā researchers who engage across Māori research spaces. This article reports a reflective study I conducted using the transtheoretical model and its six stages of change (J. O. Prochaska & DiClemente, 1982) to understand my Pākehā cultural identity. I discuss my rationale for engaging in research with Māori, and then outline the approaches that I, as a non-Indigenous researcher, adopted to appropriately engage in Indigenous research.