How to write a blog for indigenous networks

In one of the many attempts I’ve made at starting a blog post for this community, I reflected on a research project I was required to do as a psychology undergraduate.

The project aims, based largely on the existing interests of the lecturer (ya’ll know how it is), was to investigate the relationship between perfectionism and procrastination. Guided by our lecturer (bear with me), we hypothesised a positive correlational relationship between perfectionism and procrastination, the idea being that the more concerned someone was with how others perceived their work and/or the greater the pressure to produce work at the highest possible standard, the greater the likelihood of putting off that work.

As a self-diagnosed perfectionist and a chronic procrastinator — I can attest that the relationship, at least in my case, is pret-ty strong. And at face value, this could easily be proposed as an explanatory variable for my delayed contribution to this blog.

However, as a PhD student engaging in research with Māori for the first time, I feel that this procrastination (or paralysis) in putting pen to paper and discussing issues and experiences of relevance to Māori and indigenous communities can not simply be reduced to perfectionist tendencies.

In my case, there were a few things holding me back.

What is my message? 

This blog provides a space where each of us (and any of you! –see Would you like to write for us? for more info) have an opportunity to share.

So, what was I going to write about? For me, it was like when your lecturer says to you, “You can choose a topic, any topic”. While I eventually work my way through such broad guidelines, my instant reaction is often something along the lines of:

what do you mean anything?; or,

like what for example?

Keeping in mind that the rōpu that developed this blog is made up of indigenous students from around the world and that the blog title includes the terms “indigenous networks”, I didn’t really think any old (mainstream) issue would be appropriate.

Unfortunately, the development of this blog began at a time when many of our group members were off around the world, so I have blamed the geographical distance, but in reality I was just too whakamā at the time to reach out for help. (The post-after fabulous-post that followed after K.I.N.’s commencement did little to ease the anxiety either! Kia ora wāhine mā!)

However, if I had’ve reached out to these women, I would have no doubt, come to some of the following conclusions much sooner!

Qs or As? 

One particular fear that prevented my fingers from flying across the keyboard was the misconception that I somehow had to have all the answers (hello, perfectionism?). This is also likely a result of my ‘self-help’ blog addiction, where every title promises ‘X’ tips to get ahead in your career, ‘X’ strategies to become more creative and productive, or the ‘Do’s and Dont’s’ for living happily ever after!

So I kept asking myself…who was I writing to? and what could I possibly know that could be of any help?!

Thankfully, catching up with my colleagues finally (as in two weeks ago) put me somewhat at ease, when I was told I didn’t have to provide a bulleted list of practical fool-proof strategies for writing a PhD! Instead, I could use it as an opportunity to share issues that I’m facing or even to pose questions to other blog readers to stimulate discussion around any topic of interest.

Of course! This is something I feel comfortable doing in the classroom, so why did I find this so difficult in digital medium?

Well…while the advantage of a blog like this is its potential to reach multiple audiences across the globe with ease, the fear-inducing aspect, at least for someone like myself, is that it has the potential to reach multiple audiences across the globe with ease! And often these thoughts, opinions and comments can be immortalised on the internet, despite the fact that I’m likely to grow, develop and consequently shift perspective on one or many of these issues.

And, anectdotally, I’ve heard it can prevent some of our readers from sharing your own perspectives on some of the K.I.N. posts to date? (Amiright?)

Why does this all matter? 

From my experience in academia, and certainly through the process of my doctoral research, I’ve been presented with the notion that Māori scholars/entrepreneurs/employees have additional responsibilities, or “two jobs” if you will. One of those, being the job they were hired to do, the other is that of representing Māori.

I do believe there is truth in this statement and have felt a level of obligation to get things right, right from the inception of my research project (and when faced with contributing to this blog). The idea of Kaupapa Māori as a theory or something that has been written about academically was foreign to me and coming into my final year of the thesis, I’m still heavily immersed in methodological readings and debates to make sure that I’m clear on my standpoint and to avoid any miscommunication or misrepresentation of my participants, their stories, or our culture…

So! therein lies the many odd pressures that have been holding me back (and why I have missed my scheduled posting day twice now..aroha mai!). Many thanks to all the people that have contributed to K.I.N. so far and to all the wāhine across the road for your patience with me.  I still carry a little concern in my puku in writing this, but I’ve realised that sometimes just having the conversation is more important.

So…How do you write a blog for indigenous networks?

You just do it.

Nimbus A. Staniland

Nimbus Staniland (Ngāti Awa, Ngai Tūhoe) is a Lecturer in the Department of Management at Auckland University of Technology (AUT). As a recipient of a 2013 AUT Vice-Chancellors Doctoral Scholarship her PhD thesis explored the career experiences and aspirations of Māori academics in university business schools with an interest in identifying strategies to create more meaningful engagement between universities, Māori as academics and their students. Nimbus currently teaches papers in HRM and Diversity. Her research interests include indigeneity and diversity in work, employment and careers, as well as Kaupapa Māori and indigenous approaches to research.

4 comments

  1. How true! Everything you said is everything I felt before my first post. And as I gear up for my second post and search for guest bloggers, I’m motivated by your words. Nga mihi, e hoa.

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  2. Kia ora Nimbus and thank you for this masterpiece conversation of a first blog. Well done! Ha, ha, love your writing style and your first blog jitters -, felt the fear and aren’t we glad we did it anyway? I really relate to what you mean as you pose those potent questions through your blog. For me it felt like a major and conscious effort to put myself out there in a blog.
    Although I wasn’t good at my perfectionism in fact much better at its relative (KIN) procrastination, I have been grateful to give that perfectionism S@#T up. What I ascribe to now is aiming for EXCELLENCE and acknowledging that I’m perfect in my imperfections. Giving up procrastination and its (KIN dis-ease) paralysis hasn’t been as easy to conquer. Perhaps like you the latter is a work in progress. Cheers and congratulations.
    Abi

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