The Space in Between…

Having recently finished a year on sabbatical, I have been spending a bit of time thinking about the research and teaching opportunities that are emerging for me since I returned to Aotearoa. I was reminded of two different ways of seeing opportunities  as “the space in between”.  The first is from “The Book of Fame”,  Lloyd Jones  fictionalised account of the 1905 All Black tour of Great Britain. These “Originals” were so innovative in the way they played rugby when compared to the opposition. This is how Jones describes their style:

“how we think

The [opposition] saw a thing
we saw the space in-between
The [opposition] saw a tackler
we saw space either side
The [opposition] saw an obstacle
We saw an opportunity. ”  (Jones, 2000, p. 75)

This idea of “the space in-between” also appears in work on Maori entrepreneurship that has occupied my thinking for the past few years. Working with colleagues, we have drawn on Takarangi – the double spiral of creativity –  as an organizing framework. We see opportunity and heritage coming together as a double spiral, a dance of innovation where opportunities emerge, guided and informed by heritage. And again, it is “the space in between” where potential emerges.

From this I have been drawn to reflect again on the concept of  liminal space: a place of transition, where there is no one answer, where we wait, sit with ambiguity, aware of the potential and possibility not yet realized –  a “finger tip feel” away.  I realized this describes the research and teaching process that I often engage with as an academic – not quite knowing where or how it will end, only that the journey will be an engaging and exciting one. And as my career continues I am more and more comfortable with this liminal academic space and the opportunities that emerge from “the space in between”.

Finally,  I reflected on how much I am enjoying a “Takarangi” process as a Pakeha researcher working with indigenous PhDs.  These boundary pushing scholars who draw from heritages that are different from mine, who see intellectual opportunities that have meaning and relevance to their people  – who struggle in the liminal space, impatient, seeking answers that can only be found through uncertainty. Yet their desire to locate themselves as scholars with purpose for their people will enables them to find answers and then see more opportunities as they transition through this space.  And my part in this double spiral?  Well, I’ll  just wait for another invitation to contribute to this blog to answer that one …

by Chris Woods

You can find more fantastic blogs from Chris at Thinking About Entrepreneurship


  1. Manuhiri

    I remember as a young girl playing netball, my mother always told me to throw the ball into the space, not to the person. Such a simple piece of advice made me a better player. And now I’m inspired to apply that same piece of advice in a completely new way. Thanks Chris.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. rachelcockerhopkins

    I’m so fascinated Chris. I’ve been obsessing (there really is no other word for it) over the Moanan notion of ‘the space in between’ for some time. In the Moanan worldview vӓ, literally the space between two objects (Ka’ili, 2005), is an object in its own right. It serves to tie together.

    Instead of being a liminal space it is a completely laden space which creates genealogical/spiritual/metaphysical links to knowledge, practice, movement, ceremony, history, memory, stories, and environments. I’ve heard Albert Rafiti beautifully explain it as the strands which tie us into the unending meshwork of experience (Tim Ingold also talks about meshworks in this way), and allow us to sing the ancestors into the present.

    I love the idea of this in the context of entrepreneurial opportunity; looking forward to seeing where the takarangi process takes it.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Dara Kelly

    Probably the most enduring aspect of my Master’s research has been the notion of cyclical time and it surfaces again and again and probably will for the rest of my life, as one would expect with such contemplations. Whenever I encounter the dilemma of trying to picture and imagine life for our ancestors and it seems like a fuzzy memory that I’m not sure I had exactly, but am recalling from somewhere, to say that we have existed from time immemorial always creates a sense of relief, because time immemorial almost lets me release the responsibility to see clearly or know something for certain, but become part of the haze, or meshwork as Rachel has said, and belong there – knit oneself in. Thanks for reminding us of the takarangi. It’s a much more meaningful consideration than “it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey” or whatever the saying is because it seems to me that the takarangi can be a still space.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Abigail McClutchie

    Kia ora Chris,
    Wow, what a dialogue of intellectual thought and knowledge creation your piece has inspired! I find
    “the space in between” is such an important place for all the reasons discussed thus far. For me it is also that space that links me to the spiritual realm – my quiet place between this and the divine place of all knowing, all potential, and Te ao marama- enlightenment.

    What I see you do so beautifully in the academy is hold open the space in between. In holding the space open you create new space for us indigenous students to find our own. In finding our own space in between, new Takarangi koru are formed together and we all learn. Navigating the academy, finding and pursuing opportunities are roles made easier within an entrepreneurial team. As the Takarangi model suggests the role of kaumatua (elder only in the sense of time in the academy) is to share wisdom and experience which is valuable to the potiki (again not an age thing). The potiki shares energy, youth potential and creativity with the team and yet the koru folds back into itself and these roles are reciprocated as well. Such a beautiful thing!


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