This time last year we launched our first KIN blog. Happy first birthday KIN! We also want to acknowledge all our contributors and hundreds of people following our KIN blog posts. To date we have had 73 posts, 18,663 views, 11,458 visitors, from 82 countries. I thought it would be good to share a little background about how the blog got started.
The small whanau behind the blog came together to support each other as indigenous students doing a PhD at the University of Auckland Business School. The blog came secondary to the support and was a suggestion made at one of the meetings six or so months after the group kicked off formally. Within the KIN group some people already had relationships and different levels of friendships, and so far the newbies coming in have had connections to some of the members already. Prior to the launch this time last year, we discussed what we should call our blog. The name KIN came up, not to be confused with “kina” which the seafood lovers around us hear when we talk about KIN. As an acronym KIN stands for Knowledge in Indigenous Networks. Embedded in the KIN name is the idea of whanau (kin) with the intention of creating and sharing knowledge amongst our wider networks, and creating a space for those indigenous voices to be heard. Prior to our blog we met regularly for about six months and have continued ever since to share ideas and experiences, brainstorm our topics, deconstruct and understand indigenous methodologies, critique our writing, work on presentations, and participate in panels and workshops together. We even helped run an Indigenous Business PhD Colloquium on behalf of our Associate Dean, inviting all business PhDs across the country to get together to discuss creating an intentional community of scholars. Our group ensures that each of us make it through the PhD process as smoothly and graciously as possible. Generally, we consider the backing we give each other is in support of holistic development, not only academic growth.
The KIN whanau have been the most valuable part of my PhD journey so far outside of my supervisory team. We find common ground with our research and experience. That is because we are from the same faculty and department, and as such KIN members have been able to help me directly with my research and get through the proposal stage. In saying that, I am very lucky to be networked into a couple of other PhD support whanau including MAI ki Tamaki and Education’s Te Puna Wānanga whanau. Through my journey I have found that I have needed all elements of support offered by faculty, at University-wide level, and more, which is where KIN comes into it. Of course there is the support that we get from our own whanau and friends and it would be impossible to survive a PhD without them on our journey. For me, KIN is an extension of my whanau, and they have also turned out to be very good friends.
When the blog got started I had been the last to join but since then we have been joined by two other friends who will embark on their PhD journeys soon. After the colloquium other potentials showed interest in joining the cohort particularly because of the support available for their own journeys. At the beginning I felt out of my league so spent the first two meetings just listening and imagining that one day I would be going through those things being discussed. KIN offered me the opportunity to ask the ‘dumb’ questions without feeling like a dummy! Within the safety of KIN the imposter syndrome dissipated. Coming full circle again, KIN meetings have been a space of teaching and learning where we are all able to move seamlessly between being the teacher or the learner, and bringing our different expertise and knowledge together. Of particular interest have been our discussions on epistemology, ontology, and methodology, and the connection to Indigenous values such as; whanaungatanga, manaakitanga, tautoko and aroha.
Writing my first KIN blog was a confronting experience. Having never done it before I would have to step into the fear, and put my thoughts out into the public arena. The blog was a place where my creativity and passion for learning and teaching could also find a home. One year on KIN has offered valuable perspectives, commentary, and expression on current events, indigenous issues and the academic journey. Having achieved so much in our first year we can only expect that the conversations continue, the contribution grows and more people can offer their perspectives. Here is to a powerful second year with our KIN blog!!!