Taking Action: What you can do to support Ngā Pae o Te Māramatanga

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Professor Linda Tuhiwai Smith

  Opening Statement from Te Wharepora Hou

Over the past week we have posted commentaries from Professor Linda Tuhiwai Smith about the decision to not continue the funding for Ngā Pae o Te Māramatanga, the National Māori Centre of Research Excellence.  Our reason for supporting and utilising social media to share these commentaries is because we believe that Māori research, and in particular Kaupapa Māori research, has a critical role to play in Māori aspirations for wellbeing and development.  Many research initiatives that have been led through those who spent endless hours of work and struggle to develop Ngā Pae and then through the many research, community, iwi and academic programmes that have come to fruition and been supported by the innovative approaches taken by Ngā Pae.   This the third comment from Professor Smith comes in the form of providing ideas and reflection in terms of how we can voice support for Ngā Pae o Te Māramatanga.  Where there is, undoubtedly, much discussion taking place through a range of political processes it is important that those of us who have had direct contact with, and benefit from the projects undertaken since 2002 under the auspices of Ngā Pae are able to have our voices heard.  That is the aim of this comment.

Nā Dr Leonie Pihama & Marama Davidson for Te Wharepora Hou

9781856496247A comment on Taking Action by Professor Linda Tuhiwai Smith

Thank you for the support that has been received for the commentaries on Ngā Pae o Te Māramatanga. Many of you have been outraged by the news and have been shocked, depressed or angered. I have to admit I went through those emotions too and then I sat back and examined what the larger consequences would be.

As you know I am not one to engage in public commentary, my on-line skills and manners are not well developed, it takes me a long time to write and my work life is just too crazy busy to pause. What has compelled me to do this is that I think it would be a scandalous waste to dismantle Ngā Pae o Te Māramatanga, that too much hard work will have gone down the drain, that Māori intellectual potential will be squished, that other related good stuff will be destroyed and that it will set Māori research back 30 years.

I have not spent my career studying the institution of research and what it has taken for Māori and indigenous people to engage in that institution just to sit back and watch a key platform be dismantled.

I also know how hard it is to win funding for research that uses Mātauranga Māori, that employs Māori methodologies and that focuses on Māori development and that is despite the policy of Vision Mātauranga. However it is clear that ‘Vision Mātauranga’ is usually given a once over lightly glance in most research proposals and assessments, and it is also clear that many international reviewers don’t have the knowledge to assess it. Given these critical issues it is nearly impossible for Māori to build an infrastructure.

Many of you are asking what more you can do to assist.  Researchers are generally optimistic and tenacious so I think there are always solutions to be found, or, perhaps it’s just that I am optimistic and tenacious! Your support to convince others to seek those solutions is essential.  Here are a range of ideas for those who wish to show active support.

1. To our international scholars: We need both formal letters of support addressed to the relevant New Zealand Government Ministers of Tertiary Education, Education and Māori Affairs and open comment and postings on line including your reflections on the impact of Ngā Pae on your work and how you see Ngā Pae’s accomplishments and contribution to the wider International Indigenous community.

2. To Māori scholars: Letters of support addressed both to Ministers and to the Tertiary Education Commission is critical for your voice to be heard. You may also be involved as the Māori element in other CoREs which is fine so was I but have no doubt that Ngā Pae o Te Māramatanga is the tuakana, the ‘Mothership’ so to speak and has far more experience as an established CoRE.

3. To Social Media experts: Some of you are excellent in the on line environment so I encourage you to use your creative skills. I think the Jumbunna group in Sydney with Professor Larissa Berendt and Jason De Santolo may start some small video testimonies – they are working on something.

4. To our MAI participants, both former and current:  Your voices really matter so it would help to talk about how you finished your studies and where your career is now.

5. To our Iwi and community colleagues who have engaged in collaborations:  It would help to talk about the quality of those engagements and the outcomes of the research as you see it.

6. To our allies and supporters: Your influence matters as well and showing support would demonstrate that Ngā Pae has extended it’s reach and engaged many others in its programmes.

What is important is that we work together to highlight the significant contribution towards Māori wellbeing and Māori Development made by Ngā Pae o Te Māramatanga to whānau, hapū, Iwi, Māori Development across all sectors of our society.  The focus on research excellence, on transformative research, on making a difference within Aotearoa, on training and enhancing professional capacity are critical to the wellbeing of this country. Those are things that need to be communicated to those who are making these decisions, and to encourage and motivate them to not only revisit this decision but to reverse it in the best interests of ensuring that research development in this country continues to move in ways that ensure meaningful involvement of all communities, including tangata whenua.

Professor Linda Tuhiwai Smith (Ngāti Awa, Ngāti Porou)

CNZM BA Dip Tch MA (Hons) PhD Auckland
Pro Vice-Chancellor Māori

Senior Advisor – Te Kotahi Research Institute
Dean – School of Māori and Pacific Development
Professor of Education and Māori Development

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About Te Wharepora Hou

Te Wharepora Hou is a collective of wāhine who are mainly Tāmaki Makaurau based, but we have strong participation from wāhine based elsewhere in Aotearoa and the world. We have come together to ensure a stronger voice for wāhine and are concerned primarily with the wellbeing of whānau, hapū, iwi and all that pertains to Papatūānuku and the sustenance of our people.
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9 Responses to Taking Action: What you can do to support Ngā Pae o Te Māramatanga

  1. Having seen this as a post on a friends Facebook page, I could not immediately get the gist of just who this article was about. I would suggest the title and the opening statement clarify the fact this this is the indigenous people of New Zealand. The nature of social media is that information travels obscure routes instantaneously. Your message would have more impact if it identified the basics, right off the bat. I am in Alaska and we too have programs and research ongoing to preserve and continue native populations’ history, language, lifestyle and land/water usage and ownership. I wish you well in your efforts. I have a 21 year old who traveled in New Zealand for a month two summers ago. He became aware of the Maori people and some of the issues they face. I would say that finding a positive way to target the tourist as a group to get your messages out would prove very useful. No government wants ‘bad press’ with tourist. It might just help push issues along so that the appearance is one of cooperation and preservation. Good Luck, I am reposting this on my Facebook :)

  2. Julie Tilsen, PhD says:

    Can you post the contact information for the New Zealand Government Ministers of Tertiary Education, Education and Māori Affairs so that we may send letters? Thanks.

  3. Ruth says:

    Will send a letter of support reflecting my views, I have been waiting to see what may come out from previous articles related to linda revisiting reviewing her projects and waited with interest, as evidence shows it would affect me personally and politically, it is challenging – thanks linda for this news

    • Ruth says:

      Internationally I work in a specific area of support for local communities.Lindas approach to decolonization and her alliances with tribal areas is specifically a work that targets iwi at the local level which enables the theory and application to be very focused on iwi in the long term. Althought my intentions were originally to abide by this focus,my work has now crossed the boundaries that she signals in the work and theory, it is with regret that this has happened however there are definite advantages for me to work at the global complex area of decolonization histories that are now not so very focused but interesting to say the least.

      I recognize the sincere integrity Linda and her team have managed to work through and whilst I work away from these theories, I am sure that eventually they reconnect again in the future.

      Thanks Ruth Henare – Feminist Futures (Study in Progress)

  4. Michelle Roestenburg says:

    Nga mihi ki a koe e te rangatira Linda – Inspired leadership occurs when those who know how to make it count step forward and lead out. It is really important to be able to take action, and in particular the most effective action – I will be writing… Your guidance and role modelling is appreciated
    Waireti

  5. huka says:

    Reblogged this on huka can haka and commented:
    Last week, Nga Pae o Te Maramatanga, The National Institute of Research Excellence for Maori Development, lost its funding. For Maori researchers, this is a huge blow and raises questions regarding the disjuncture between political rhetoric for Maori development, education, equity and partnerships within Aotearoa New Zealand.

    Nga Pae o Te Maramatanga has an incredible strategy and vision, and creates Maori and Indigenous scholar networks within and across all Aotearoa tertiary education providers. In the past decade, Nga Pae o Te Maramatanga has enabled a framework for Maori forms of knowledge to flourish both nationally, and internationally.

    I am Maori PhD candidate who interrogates the ways that raranga, or the practice and conceptual underpinnings of traditional Maori weaving, can assist toward forms of self awareness, self acceptance and ultimately, self governance. For Maori, this is what we call tino rangatiratanga. Raranga just looks like old ladies sitting around making things out of grass, but that’s just the face of it. The process is ancient, and because it is so old, within the practice, my ancestors interwove our most fundamental knowledges. Raranga is relational and through its practice shows ways to enact enhanced connectivity to other people and our surroundings as linked aspects of a constantly evolving universe. Raranga saved my life, so for me it is vitally important to interpret, translate and share its knowledge at a time when so many people in the world feel lost, hurt, confused and unheard.

    It’s not particularly easy to convince a Western academy of learning how this constitutes high-level research. However, I have had incredible support for my research from Nga Pae o Te Maramatanga; through gathering with other Maori and Indigenous scholars, research writing workshops and avenues toward conference attendance and publication. Nga Pae o Te Maramatanga enables me to disseminate my creative research processes and findings, and to be uplifted by the research intent of other Maori and Indigenous scholars. It has given me the opportunity to see the vast extent of knowledge that is implanted within everyday people everywhere.

    Nga Pae o Te Maramatanga has helped me to feel empowered as a Maori researcher, and as a result, to share knowledge that can empower others. Now that it has lost its funding, I wonder about how much more difficult my journey to share the simple, pragmatic, healing and incredibly logical knowledge left for us by my ancestors will be.

    I wonder if governance structures really care about people being well today. They seem more concerned with keeping people demoralised, as a means to continue the consumption of our energy and resources toward capital gain for the few who actually benefit at the cost of all others.

    The loss of funding for Nga Pae o Te Maramatanga; an Indigenous research institute with such incredible and obvious positive outputs, shows how effective governmental strategies to silence Indigenous voices can be. It makes me scared to witness how overt contemporary governance has become in it’s continuing colonising agenda.

    The only thing that keeps my fear at bay, is that if there’s one thing about raranga as a form of research, it is that its threads are eternal.

  6. Kia Orana kotou katoatoa
    I am a recipient of the Nga Pae o Te Maramatanga programe. During my PhD glory days, Nga Pae o te Maramatanga has englightened me and given the opportunity to attend conference and seminars. I want to thank the staff at Nga Pae o Te Maramatanga for their help. I am not happy that it has lost its funding.
    There got to be a solution to this… I am happy to help out. Or even donate.

  7. Pingback: Ngā Pae Māramatanga: Target of Institutional Racism? « Treaty Blog

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