The Denial of Maori Research Development

Dr Leonie Pihama

Dr Leonie Pihama

[Note from Te Wharepora Hou: This article reflects the personal views of Dr Leonie Pihama and is endorsed by Te Wharepora Hou.]

This week Iwi and Maori researchers and research organisations received notification that the Maori Centre of Research Excellence (CORE) ‘Nga Pae o Te Maramatanga’ would not be funded in the next round of the National CORE funding.

The Royal Society of New Zealand states:
“The CoREs are inter-institutional research networks, with researchers working together on commonly agreed work programmes. CoREs focus on the development of human capital, so they undertake outreach activities (for example, within the wider education system). CoREs make a contribution to national development and focus on the impact of their research.”

For the 2013/2014 round there are NO Maori CORE’s in the final round for consideration.

There also appear to be no Maori on the selection panels. Well at least no Maori that are identifiable on the Royal Society website. Rather, with the exception of one or two people, the panels consist predominantly of Pakeha and White Australians who have no ability to assess Kaupapa Maori frameworks.

The CORE funding process is facilitated by the Royal Society of New Zealand on behalf of the Tertiary Education Commission who provide a Mission statement for CORE funding which does not include a single mention of Maori. Nor does it include any reference to Te Tiriti o Waitangi or even the lesser government position of the principles of the Treaty. There is no inclusion, no mention, no acknowledgement of anything Maori or Maori aspirations for research.

Maori research needs and aspirations have been made invisible and as of 2015 will no longer feature in the two major research funding mechanisms 1. CORE funds and 2. The National Science challenge funds.

The issue of the ‘white – streaming’ (to borrow a word from Dr Anne Milne) of research and research funds has been a growing issue over the past few years and has now again become entrenched as a fundamental structural and systemic act of racism. And we should be very concerned. Such acts remove the ability of whanau, hapu, iwi, Maori organisations to take control of our research agenda. The marginalisation of Maori needs and aspirations in the research sector is not new, as with Maori education we have fought for every shift in the sector. Research has been an ongoing site of struggle for over 200 years and we should not allow ourselves to go back to an 1800’s model of Pakeha research agenda’s dominating and being lauded over our people.

Much cutting edged Kaupapa Maori work has been inspirational not only to us as Maori but to Indigenous Peoples globally. Professor Linda Tuhiwai Smith’s publication ‘Decolonising Methodologies’ provided insights into the theoretical, methodological, and educational practices that we as a people have created and developed over the past 30 years. It is a motivational piece of work for thousands of people globally. We have much to fight for in terms of the current marginalisation of Maori research in Aotearoa.

Last year the National Science Challenges process led by MBIE also took a position against ensuring specific Maori input and aspirations in the process. Maori researchers were called to a meeting only after challenges were made directly within a hui called by Nga Pae o Te Maramatanga. The meeting at MBIE was a farce. It was last minute. It was opened by the Maori MBIE staff member in a way that was demeaning of those Maori researchers that managed to make their way to Te Whanganui a Tara. We were told not to raise the Treaty as it would not be discussed. We were told that the research themes were set and would not include Maori specific research themes or questions. We were basically told to take what was given and to try to get on to one of the ‘preferred provider universities’ research groups.

As a result of the National Science Challenge meeting Maori researchers have struggled to have Maori research ideas, themes, questions included. In some areas there has been some movement however there is little shift in the majority of the challenges. As such a briefing paper was developed and sent to the Minister of Maori Affairs to be shared with other relevant ministers. There was no movement on the part of Steven Joyce who is – Minister for Economic Development; Minister of Science and Innovation; Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment; Minister for Small Business; Associate Minister of Finance.

Responses to the current situation need to come from a broad range of our communities in Aotearoa. The denial of any form of provision for Te Tiriti o Waitangi within these process means the denial of meaningful Maori involvement in areas that directly impact upon our people. This is not just a research funding issue. This is an issue of our rights as Indigenous People, as Treaty partners to provide research agenda’s, approaches, processes that align to our needs and aspirations.

The recent Maori Party press release related to this issue referred directly to the Briefing Paper and therefore I have included it below for further reference. It is noted that a number of key Maori academics were overseas at the time of adding signatures however they too agreed with the papers overview.

Briefing Paper: National Science Challenges: Te Tiriti o Waitangi and Māori Engagement
In May 2013 the Government announced ten National Science Challenges as a process for undertaking research in what the Minister of Science and Innovation, Steven Joyce, described as “some of the biggest science-based issues and opportunities facing New Zealand.”
The National Science Challenges (NSC) processes are now well underway. However, there have been ongoing concerns raised in relation to Te Tiriti o Waitangi and the place of Māori, Māori knowledge and the challenge processes. We are concerned about ongoing arrangements, including planning, assessment, monitoring and accountability under Te Tiriti o Waitangi. These concerns are not only about equitable partnership but also encompass the ability of the challenges to proceed and deliver in ways that are unique to Aotearoa/New Zealand.

Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga National Science Challenges workshop was held on June 24, 2013, to develop a Māori centred response to the Science Challenges. This meeting reinforced the importance of Te Tiriti o Waitangi and strong concerns were voiced around its invisibility and the overall lack of Māori visibility in the challenge themes and processes. Ngā Pae o Te Māramatanga produced a summary of this meeting, including guiding principles.
MASS (Māori Association of Social Scientists) wrote a Briefing Paper outlining concerns over the invisibility of Te Tiriti o Waitangi, the processes that had taken place and future steps; this was circulated to the MASS list and received positive feedback and support from MASS executive and members.
Whāia Te Pae Tawhiti – A National Science Challenge Workshop for Māori Researchers, Wellington 18 July 2013
Around 32 people attended the workshop. Ngā Pae o Te Māramatanga provided an overview of the workshop they had convened. The MASS briefing paper and position was put forward at the Wellington meeting.
Collective concern was expressed by Māori researchers in attendance that the processes to date had marginalised Māori participation and that the defined Challenge areas and key themes did not reflect key areas of concern for our communities.
The place of Te Tiriti o Waitangi and mātauranga Māori were central foci for discussion. As a result overarching principles and underpinning values were developed at the workshop:

Overarching principles
The National Science Challenges will reflect and embed the following throughout all aspects of the NSC:
• Te Ao Māori, Māori world views, Tikanga, Te Reo
• Te Tiriti O Waitangi
• Mātauranga Māori: Māori Knowledge
• Rangahau orite – Equity
• Rangahau whai hua – Transformative focus
• Kaitiakitanga – Inter-generational custodianship, protection/enhancement of mauri
The full MBIE report from the workshop and other information is available at :

Iwi Leaders forum
A briefing paper outlining these issues was presented to, and endorsed by, the Iwi Leaders’ Forum at the Ngaruawāhia meeting in August 2013.

Challenge update
MBIE now expects the sector to lead the development of proposals, including addressing Māori aspirations, with Requests for Proposals outlining the need to incorporate the Vision Mātauranga Policy Framework, which is the Ministry’s Treaty of Waitangi response.
Requests for Proposals (‘the first tranche’) for 3 challenges were invited in October 2013: Resilience to Nature’s Challenges; High Value Nutrition and The Deep South. Proposals are due 20 December and need to encompass a 10 year research strategy. The involvement of Māori researchers in these processes has been restricted to responding and adding to existing predetermined frameworks. for-proposals/
Further RFPs are expected in early 2014.

Critical Issues
As the National Science Challenge process advances there continue to be critical issues that remain unaddressed by MBIE and research planning teams. A number of Māori researchers have voiced their concerns related to the NSC process to MBIE with little response.
Challenge areas and key themes development have not included any significant Māori input and do not reflect critical issues that face our people.
Māori researchers have indicated the need for clear partnership practices that align with Te Tiriti o Waitangi, however this has been ignored by MBIE. MBIE staff have indicated that there will be no discussion of reframing the challenges in line with Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
Issues raised in regards to the findings of WAI 262 and Māori involvement in research across the challenges have not been considered in the processes.
Suggested areas of research and changes related to the Challenge areas and themes provided by Māori researchers at the Meeting in July 2013 have been ignored.
Māori researchers seeking further clarification from MBIE in regards to development Māori research areas, themes and questions have been told that there will be no Māori specific research themes within the Challenges.
Individual Māori researchers on planning groups have advanced a range of suggested changes to approach and content to address the Treaty and to enable Māori research areas to be included, however Māori participants in these processes are expressing a range of concerns about their place and input within the planning groups,
On the whole individual Māori researchers on planning and reference groups have come in to the process in an adhoc manner with no process that adequately addresses Māori concerns expressed across the development and implementation of the challenges.

We ask that the Minister of Māori Affairs and Ministers associated with the National Science Challenges provide guidelines for MBIE, and other agencies involved, to ensure a clear process that ensures the inclusion of Te Tiriti o Waitangi and Māori involvement in all aspects of the National Science Challenges.
We recommend that MBIE, in consultation with and in line with the statements from Whāia Te Pae Tawhiti , develop processes and guidelines for developing and assessing proposals, and on-going monitoring of the challenges and their implementation. This will enable a process to address the concerns which persist regarding the place of Te Tiriti o Waitangi and ongoing accountability and engagement.
We recommend that MBIE express a series of principles that apply to the establishment of viable partnership models between Māori and the Crown in the retention and transmission of mātauranga Māori and ensuring Kaupapa Māori approaches within all challenges.
We recommend that MBIE operate under a Treaty relationship that includes Māori and Crown co-ordination, appropriate prioritization, sufficient resourcing, and shared objective setting with Māori are all needed to ensure success. These ‘working principles’ would allow for the practical application of the higher-level principles of good Crown conduct articulated and would include governance arrangements within each challenge team.
We recommend that a National Māori Science Challenge consortium be supported that will have direct input into all aspects of the National Science Challenge processes, and that this consortium develop clear policies, strategies and either directly respond to RFPs or input into supporting Māori research collectives who wish to participate in each of the respective challenges.
We recommend that a Multidisciplinary National Māori Research Network be developed that includes Māori researchers from across whānau, hapū, iwi, communities, universities, wānanga and other institutions that enable engagement across research sectors and the challenges.

This Briefing Paper is submitted and endorsed by:
1. Associate Professor Leonie Pihama
2. Professor Helen Moewaka Barnes
3. Associate Professor Papaarangi Reid
4. Associate Dean Bridget Robson
5. Dr Sarah-Jane Tiakiwai
6. Professor Linda Tuhiwai Smith
7. Professor Mason Durie
8. Professor Margaret Mutu
9. Dr Cherryl Smith
10. Piri Sciascia
11. Dr Matire Harwood
12. Dr Amohia Boulton
13. Dr Heather Griffiths
14. Dr Paul Reynolds
15. Adrian Rurawhe
16. Maui Hudson
17. Professor Charles Te Ahukaramu Royal
18. Mereana Selby
19. Ani Mikaere
20. Naida Glavis
21. Associate Professor Merata Kawharu
22. Moe Milne
23. Dr Daniel Hikuroa
24. Dr Beverley Lawton
25. Dr Margie Hohepa
26. Rihi Te Nana
27. Dr Ella Henry
28. Dr Linda Waimarie Nikora
29. Dr Amanda Black
30. Dr Anne-Marie Jackson
31. Angeline Greensill
32. Dr Rauru Kirikiri
33. Dr Elana Curtis
34. Professor Patricia Johnston
35. Professor Paul Tapsell
36. Aroha Te Pareake Mead
37. Associate Professor Hinemoa Elder
38. Linda Te Aho
39. Dr Hemi Whaanga
40. Dr Marilyn Brewin
41. Dr Kepa Morgan
42. Dr Tahu Kukutai
43. Dr Te Kani Kingi
44. Dr Hemi Whaanga
45. Dr Rangi Matamua
46. Taria Tahana
47. Huhana Mason
48. Dr Kathie Irwin
49. Dr Rhys Jones
50. Veronica Tawhai
51. Dr Marama Leigh Muru-Lanning
52. Dr Jenny Lee
53. Dr Anneka Anderson
54. Dr Angela Moewaka Barnes
55. Dr Mera Penehira
56. Dr Shaun Ogilvie
57. Garry Watson
58. Dr Suzanne Pitama
59. Tania Huria
60. Lynaire Doherty
61. Dr Huia Jahnke
62. Dr Cameron Lacey
63. Melanie Mark-Shadbolt
64. Dr Shaun Awatere
65. Garth Harmsworth
66. Arapera Ngaha
67. Dr Brad Coombes
68. Dr Everdina Fuli
69. Dr Jessica Hutchins
70. Meegan Hall

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Reclaiming Māori Image

Dr Leonie Pihama

Dr Leonie Pihama

Over the past thirty years we have seen Māori involvement in the film industry grow and flourish. The films of the 1980’s, Ngati, Mauri and Te Rua, all written and directed by Māori saw the emergence of Māori stories open a new genre of films in this country. They were films that were imbued with cultural ways of being and storytelling that was informed by the lives of a generation of Māori storytellers who struggled to create space within the film industry in this country. Storytellers and filmmakers Barry Barclay, Merata Mita and Don Selwyn lay a pathway for generations of Māori filmmakers to follow. It is a path that has been blocked for many years by an ongoing obsession with representations of Māori beating Māori. It was a roadblock that came in the form of ‘Once Were Warriors’ and which continued throughout the 1990’s with the sequel ‘What Became of the Broken Hearted’ and expanded through films such as ‘Crooked Earth’ which took the Māori beat Māori from the bars into tribunal hearings. It was a period that shifted Māori filmmaking genre from that grounded within our expressions of ourselves, grounded in our experiences and informed by a spiritual essence that is distinctively Māori to one of how we are perceived, viewed through a lens of the colonizer and couched within a mythologies of violence within our communities being a part of what colonial science calls the ‘warrior gene’. That shift saw a return to the discourses of Māori as inherently violent, lazy, dole bludging alcoholics who don’t give a shit about our whānau. Maori women in those genre were the ‘beaten up, beaten down’ characters in the midst of the ugly violence. Yet, Māori women characters such as Beth Heke showed a deep power that resonated with many.
It is without doubt that Rena Owen carried that role with power and she is most deserving of the accolades that continue to be given to her for that role. Lines from ‘Once Were Warriors’ still persist today, even with a generation who may never have seen the film, lines such as “cook your own eggs” and “you’ll be back” can still be heard with a joking reminiscence of what were both extremely powerful and potent scenes. We can thank the writing of Riwia Brown, and the acting of Rena Owen, Temuera Morrison and Cliff Curtis for giving us moments of true power within that movie.
The productions that were supported alongside these films were those that also continued to perpetuate the colonial gaze, the gendered colonial gaze or the ‘tarzan and jane’ genre shipped directly from Hollywood to Aotearoa. Sitting within this genre are ‘The Piano’ and ‘River Queen’. The gendered colonizing thinking regains its dominance in ‘The Whale Rider’, a beautifully crafted film, again with actors of renown and excellence. Located within an Iwi that has a history of women leaders, who have been models to many of our women across the country and within the Indigenous world, the story line reflects a misogynist expression of both Māori women and tikanga. If indeed, there is a grandfather amongst our people who truly despises their mokopuna because she is a girl, we must remember that is not about tikanga, that is an outcome of sexist gender beliefs that were imported with our colonisers. Our mokopuna are a reflection of our tupuna – that is our tikanga.
For many, the response to such commentary is that ‘they are just films’, or my own experience in writing a critique of ‘Bro Town’ directly to its Producers was John Campbell asking if I lack a ‘sense of humour’. What those responses fail to acknowledge is the power relationships that exist within Aotearoa, where our people continue to fight for the fundamental acknowledgement as Tangata Whenua and where we struggle to hold the little that remains of our reo, tikanga, whenua, awa, moana. We continue to fight for the last remnants of rights as Indigenous Peoples in both national and international spaces. That includes the space of representation and those ways that we are presented as a people not only to the world but also to ourselves. Film is one of those spaces. The reconstruction of what constituted Māori stories that would make their way to the big screen is one of those spaces where many Māori filmmakers of the time were struggling for Māori control of Māori stories. The representation of our people is critical to how we see ourselves. Patricia Grace wrote powerfully about that point, that stories that tell lies about us, or that are limited in their representation of us are dangerous. For the past 10 years there has been movement in Māori filmmakers again shifting what constitutes Māori film.
The power of film is unquestionable. Taking control of that genre, and telling a range of Māori stories is imperative. We have seen a growth in Māori writers and filmmakers. A new generation who have grown up seeing and supported by people like Don Selwyn, Merata Mita and Barry Barclay. A group of Māori creatives who are again turning the tide on what constitutes Māori films and bringing to the craft elements that are grounded within their experiences and knowledge of tikanga. ‘The Pā Boys’ is one example of that movement.
The opening scene of ‘The Pā Boys’ was one that took me back immediately to Merata’s closing shot of ‘Mauri’. It is a very distinctive shot of a Kāhu flying overhead. It is an image that affirms a sense of wairua that is reminiscent of Māori films of the 1980’s. It is not only the shot as some may say ‘anyone could shoot that” but it is the context, it is the feeling, it is the intention. It is the multiple levels of representation that such an opening carries, the mauri, mana, wairua.
Drawing such a comparison is not about advocating a ‘return’ to that 80’s period or form of Māori filmmaking, rather it is an acknowledgement that we are in an exciting time of again seeing the distinctiveness of Māori storytelling re-emerge on the big screen. ‘The Pā Boys’ has been described in the herald as a ‘New Zealand film at heart’, it is clearly that in the understanding that it is very much a Māori film at heart. There are multiple layers of tikanga woven through the film like a finely crafted whariki, some explained through dialogue, others seen through image, others felt just because you know what those nuances mean to us as a people.
On one level ‘The Pā Boys’ again reproduced the drinking, party, reggae preoccupation we see within many Māori films. On another level ‘The Pā Boys’ brought to the fore an image of our people in those contexts that was not framed by violence and abuse. This is a major shift and is a representation that was also a part of Te Arepa Kahi’s ‘Mt Zion’. There are clearly similar messages within these two most recent Māori films, the most significant I believe being the affirmation of positive representations of Māori men.
There is no doubt that the image of Māori men since colonization has been particularly damaging for our people. The colonial obsession with Māori men as ‘violent abusive warriors’ has for over 200 years disrupted and misrepresented the position of Māori men within our whānau. Those disruptions and misrepresentations have played out in many ways, including the high levels of Family Violence within our communities. Those colonial representations must be challenged. Both ‘The Pā Boys’ and ‘Mt Zion’ do that, and what makes that even more powerful is that they are written and produced by two Māori men. The relationships both between Māori men, and of Māori men with Māori women, portray healthy and strongly defined ways of being. Within both films the relationships between Māori men and our tamariki are framed with aroha and care. The representation of Māori women in ‘The Pā Boys’ is equally significant. Māori women in the film are strong, assertive and culturally knowledgeable, and although the main characters are the Pā Boys, there is no doubt about the presence and roles of the Māori women in the film. For many in the audience this may not appear a big part of the film, however for those working for wellbeing, for whānau ora, for removing violence from our homes, our communities, the careful representation of relationships within these films is incredibly important. We must see ourselves as healthy, well functioning friends, partners and whānau.
There are many moments in ‘The Pā Boys’ that reinforced the power of film to not only tell our own stories but to also reclaim who we are more fully as a people. Film is and should be a reflection of who we are, it should also provide us with the opportunity to imagine who we could be.

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Celebrating Māori Educational Success

E mana, e ngā reo, e ngā karangatanga maha, tēnā koutou. I te tuatahi ka mihi ki te marae o Waipapa, me ngā whare e tū motuhake ana,  arā ko Tānenuiārangi te whare tupuna, ko Reipai te wharekai. Tēnā korua ngā whare manaaki tangata.

E rere kau ana taku mihi ki a rātou mā kua haere ki tua o te ārai, me kī kua ea te wāhi ki a rātou.  Rātou kua hoki atu rā ki a Hinenuitepo, ki te wāhi okiokinga mā te tangata.

Ka huri ki a tātou ngā hunga ora kua huihui mai nei i tēnei ahiahi pō, tēnā koutou, tēnā tātou.

E tika ana te mihi ki te hau kainga, ngā tangata whenua o tēnei wāhi, ki a koutou Ngati Whaatua o Orakei, tēnei te mihi matakuikui nā tēnei mokopuna a te maunga tītōhea, me te awa tupuna o Waikato.

Nā koutou mātou ko āku tamariki i manaaki, i tiaki, i ngā tau rua tekau mā rima kua pahure, i a mātou e noho manuhiri ana i roto i te wāhi nei.  Nā koutou hoki ahau i whāngai ki ngā kōrero me ngā kaupapa raupatu i pā mai nei ki tēnei iwi me tēnei whenua.

Nō reira, e kore e arikarika te mihi ki a koutou ngā hapū o Orakei, me to koutou whakaaro rangatira mō ngā whānau me ngā whakatipuranga kei te heke mai.  E whakapono ana ahau ka tutuki i a koutou tēnei moemoeā Tēnā koutou.

Ki a koutou ngā iwi e hāpai nei i tēnei pō whakanui, pō whakahirahira, koutou o Ngāti Hine, koutou ngā rangatira o te waka o Tainui, ngā whanaunga o Ngāti Māhanga, nā tō koutou tautoko mai i whakatūria tēnei kaupapa nui mō tātou te iwi Māori, tēnā koutou.

Kei te mihi hoki ahau ki a koe e te Ahorangi Ranginui. Tino hari koa te ngākau kia kite anō i a kōrua ko Deidre. 

Ka huri aku mihi ki a koutou ngā kaiwhakarite o tēnei kaupapa whakahirahira. Koutou ngā Ahorangi Graham, Jim, Jenny me te whānau o Te Puna Wānanga, o te Tari Mātauranga, me te whare wānanga whānui tonu. Kotahi tonu te kaupapa matua o tēnei pō, ko te whakanui i ngā mahi a ngā ākonga e whai tākutatanga ana i roto i te whare wānanga nei.  

He pō nui tēnei nā te mea kua tūtuki tātou i te moemoeā i whakatakotohia e ētahi o tātou hoamahi, kia whakawhiwhia ngā tāngata Māori e rima rau ki te tohu kairangi.  I taku rangona ki tēnei wero a Graham Smith i puta mai te whakaaro, ‘ā kua tākoto te manuka, he mahi nui kei te haere’.

I tērā wā kāore te ao i whakapono ki tēnei kaupapa, ‘auare ake’!  Engari inaianei kua kitea tātou i ngā hua kua puta.  Kua neke atu i te rima rau tākuta Māori.  Kua whakamaua te pae tawhiti, kua tinana te moemoeā inaianei, ko te whāinga hou kia eke ki te kotahi mano rima rau tākuta Māori i roto i ngā tau kei te heke mai.

Nō reira, i raro i tēnei whāinga matua me tēnei moemoeā, kia kaha tātou katoa.  Tērā pea me whai tātou i te kōrero a Te Puea Herangi  ‘mahia te mahi’ kia tūtuki i a tātou tēnei mahi nui.

Nō reira, e ngā rangatira, tēnā koutou, tēnā tātou katoa.

Jenny asked me to come tonight to this event and share in acknowledging and celebrating Māori doctoral students here at The University of Auckland.  It is an honor to be here in the multiple roles that I hold now as a Māori academic and researcher.

By multiple roles I stand here as an alumni of the university and the Faculty of education, an Associate Professor of the Univesity of Auckland, Associate Professor of the University of Waikato and an adjunct Associate Professor of Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiarangi. I understand I must be able to claim to be the most ‘Associate Professor’ed’ Māori in the world.  But, more importantly than any mahi I do in my life, the most important role I have is that I am a mother of 6 tamariki and a nanny of two very new and gorgeous mokopuna.   My tamariki and mokopuna are my world. Everything I do is about them.  Everything I do is about making this world a better place for our future generations, those who are in our present and those yet to come.

As such, much of the mahi that I now focus on is about turning the tide on the deficit, reductionist, limited views that pervade this society, about Māori, about whānau, about women, about gay, lesbian, transsexual communities. Providing a Māori voice, a kaupapa voice, a critical voice against all forms of oppression.  It is about social justice. It is about realizing dreams.  It is about making the world a better place.  Being transformative. Making a difference. Challenging inequality, speaking out against oppression.  Freeing ourselves.  Taking a stand. In my view that is a critical role for a Māori scholar, to take the notion of academic freedom, to take the role as critic and conscience of society and to run is a widely and deeply as humanly possible.   

That is what I have seen from people I work alongside, that is what I have seen from people within this room, and I want to acknowledge Emeritus Professor Ranginui Walker, who I have had the absolute privilege of sitting on the Constitutional Panel and heard his stories and his critique of history and his absolute assertion of tino rangatiratanga and the foundational place of Te Tīriti o Waitangi. 

Māori scholars, Māori academics such as Rangi, Linda Tuhiwai Smith, Graham Smith, Margie Hohepa, Kuni Jenkins, Margaret Mutu, Trish Johnston, Jenny Lee, Cherryl Smith were instrumental in challenging my thinking as a Doctoral student, who also provided alongside people like, Stuart McNaughton, Alison Jones, Judith Simon and others Pākehā staff who provided support and friendship throughout the process.  That whanaungatanga, and collegiality is essential for Māori undertaking this path. It is within the constructs of whānau, manaakitanga, tautoko, ako that we as the Māori education team of the 1990’s found the support and strength to create what I believe to be seminal works and theories that now are central to Kaupapa Māori theory and methodologies. 

Kaupapa Māori theory is important to this night, because it is a part of a movement that has grown exponentially to the point where the goal of 500 phds have been passed and a new goal of 1500 has been set.  The significance of that is that Kaupapa Māori was, and must continue to be, defined and determined in line with a deep understanding and commitment to being Māori, to being whānau, to being hapū, to being iwi. That is its power. That is its potential.  It is not acceptable for that to be taken from our control as Māori. That is the antithesis of what we are asserting when we express principles of tino rangatiratanga and mana motuhake. 

I say this because Kaupapa Māori theory – the term – was first expressed here in this university, in this Faculty, and in room 101 in Māori studies one Monday night between 4-7 in 1990. It’s original assertion came from here, Te Whare Wananga o Tamaki Makaurau, through the Māori education team, and through IRI as a research Institute.   I can say that with absolute certainty because I was present with many of those Māori academics from the then Māori Education group. 

What was important in those days, which is not that long ago although it may seem so for those of you born in that year – or after –  was our belief that as a small team of Māori educationalists that we could, and would, make a difference.  That belief came from our lived realities. From our connectedness to who we are and to each other. To our faith in our own. Our faith in te reo Māori. Our faith in tikanga. Our faith, or what Graham refers to in his work ,and informed by Habermas, as a ‘utopian vision’. That belief and faith isn’t new or unique to that group. It is something that is embedded in the taonga left to us by our tupuna, it is ngā taonga tuku iho, it is tika me te pono, it is te reo.

 What  I want to be clear about is that Kaupapa Māori is not something just written in a thesis. It was and continues to be a life’s work, a life commitment.  That is what Kaupapa Māori theory and methodology is. It is a life commitment.  Kaupapa Māori theory is not a chapter in a thesis. It is not a chapter in a book. It is not a chapter in a journal. Kaupapa Māori theory and methodology is not an academic exercise. It is a lived consciousness.  It is active. It is activist. It is transforming, it is transformative. A key part of that is to ensure what we do makes a difference, that it contributes to transforming the social, cultural, political, economic and spiritual experiences of our people. 

Recently I attended the ‘Children In Crisis conference’ and we were presented the stark realities of the impact of poverty and the role of systemic racism in creating a context where many of our people are struggling every day.   I have also been actively working alongside Maori Providers working in the area of healing Family violence, sexual violence and child abuse.  Not only is the impact of the internal abuse devastating but then many are re-victimised, and experience extreme violence at the hand of agencies and the state.

The recent release of a number of key reports highlight that there are large, and growing numbers, of tamariki within Aotearoa that are living within poverty.  The UNICEF (2013) report ‘Kids Missing Out’, Child Poverty Monitor Technical Report (2013) and reports such as (2011) Left Further Behind: How New Zealand Is Failing It’s Children (2011) by the Child Action Poverty Group have repeated shown that child poverty in Aotearoa is having a significant impact on tamariki and whānau. These issues are at crisis levels for our people and need people like you all to raise awareness and to provide information and knowledge that can inform change. That will make a difference to the lives of our whānau, hapū, iwi, Māori.

That is what makes tonight so inspirational, so exciting, because although the statistics from Jenny show that overall our numbers are small comparatively, they are hugely significant in terms of achieving our long term goals as a people.  The 80 doctoral students at the University of Auckland join the 82 doctoral students in MAI ki Waikato and are a part of the approximately 700   doctoral students within the current MAI programmes. 

We are already on the way to that goal of 1500. 

My hope is that each one of those 1500 Māori Doctors commit to being a part of making a difference, to making change that brings wellbeing to all of our people.  If  we all commit to that then we would truly be a powerful force to be reckoned with.

Nō reira, rau rangatira mā, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā tātou katoa.

A speech given at the University of Auckland Inaugural Maori Doctoral Dinner 2013, University of Auckland, Hosted by Dr Jenny Lee, Head of Department, Te Puna Wānanga, Faculty of Education and Mr Jim Peters, Pro VC Māori.  Supported by Ngāti Hine, Waikato-Tainui
Ko Rangi Matamua te Kaiarotake Reo Māori




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Womenpower – final episode with Marama Davidson

Hosted by Catriona MacLennan – feminist and lawyer.

In this final episode of “Womenpower “Marama Davidson talks about what is needed to improve the situation for women @20:37.

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Why should Māori support a free and independent West Papua?

Māori and Pacific women raising fists and the Morning Star to support a free and independent West Papua

Māori and Pacific women raising fists and the Morning Star to support a free and independent West Papua

On 01 December Māori and Pacific women claimed busy intersections on Auckland’s Queen Street to stand shoulder to shoulder in a circle and raise our fists. In this stance we encircled the Morning Star flag as our brown sisterhood salute to support a free and independent West Papua (photo above).

On this day in 2004 activist Filep Karma led the raising of the Morning Star in Jayapura and received a 15 year prison sentence. So we raised our flag and our fists 15 times across three Queen Street intersections to symbolise those lost years. We as indigenous Pacific women in Aotearoa felt the responsibility to do what others have lost their freedom for.

I was proud to support this initiative of the visionary Samoan writer, teacher and community activist Leilani Salesa. Leilani collaborated with West Papua Action Auckland (WPPA) and we would not have worked without their support crew handing out pamphlets and interacting with crowd responses to us.

As a Māori woman concerned with indigenous truth for Aotearoa and the world, learning about the plight of West Papua is a personal responsibility. It is part of the same responsibility we have to stand with indigenous peoples everywhere in our campaigns for self-determination over our lands and peoples. Indigenous people are not isolated groups fighting for better control over their small part of the struggling world. All together we are weaving a new global fabric. Our strive for indigenous vision is strengthened by the criss-cross stitch of other indigenous nations.

For some the hegemony has strangled solidarity out of us. When our own are in a hard place, living in poverty, on the street and fighting for an inch of dignity it may be have been too hard to see a group of brown women standing up for peoples living in a whole different land.
“Fuck this shit what about our own fucken independence first!” was the cry coming from one or two who are living in that very hard place on Sunday morning. I get that. It made me sad, but I get that. Lots more needs to happen to support those very people on the streets to be in a better place. But I know that this reaction is not limited to our homeless. Some Māori still need to be convinced that there is any worth in supporting human rights and social justice for anyone else while our own hapū have yet to have our independence fully affirmed.  But the Pacific women performers and the Pākeha and tauiwi people in our support group are the very ones who stand alongside Tangata Whenua in our own struggles. And I agree that any fight for social justice must begin with support for our own tino rangatiratanga. Thankfully the mislaid reactions to us did not deter our focussed, poised and dignified group of women and our support group. We kept marching silently but powerfully down the street to our next intersection for our fisted flag-raise.

So we absolutely need to do right by our own people urgently and remain vigilant in that. Part of that is to draw on the strength of our indigenous relations around the world fighting for the same things we are. As Māori we can stand with other activists and groups to let West Papua know we hear them. Hapū and Iwi around Aotearoa have long since been resisting Crown destruction of their territories and we know this will intensify as the neoliberal terrorism steps up around here. We already need the global support in this and we need to give global support to others. Some of us are in that privileged place where we can be a voice, raise our resistance fists, block a road or write a blog in the global uprising. I always say that those of us who can – must.

And also we must because it is hard to get traction with media on this issue. Leilani was painfully thorough in her promotion and sent the media release to all the right places. No one came with their tv cameras which was a shame because it was definitely a visual spectacle. You can see amazing photos from our generous photographer Tanu here.

Currently West Papua is under effective Indonesian control. West Papuan people are constantly terrorised by the Indonesian military, paramilitary police and intelligence agencies. Journalists and humanitarian workers are excluded or their movements are tightly restricted. For a credible insight into the background and the realities of this oppression please see Keith Locke’s blog here. Keith is a long time campaigner on the West Papuan situation and was in the support group on the day.

West Papua Action Auckland (WPPA) remind us how New Zealand is complicit in some of the human rights abuses that happen in West Papua. New Zealand also plays a role in massive environmental destruction of West Papua. The people there deserve their unspoiled lands the same way we are protesting to protect ours. Again this is where the global demand for environmental protections ensures that Māori care about what else is happening in the world. I encourage people to join the WPPA mailing list by emailing as they offer practical ideas for us all to support an independent West Papua.

So on the morning of Sunday 01 December we gathered at the Waharoa (the big carved archway) on Aotea Square built by Selwyn Muru. We left from that point and marched single file behind the Morning Star stopping at Queen Street intersections for our performance intervention. After our street theatre we marched back to the Selwyn’s Waharoa hence completing our circle of action. Being part of this has raised my awareness and leaves me with the responsibility to better support our Te Wharepora Hou member Sina Brown-Davis who is a passionate West Papua expert for our group.

West Papua independence Queen Street line Dec 2013

Please also see the blog here from Ema Tavola one of our Pacific women in the performance group.

Ngā mihi tautoko ki a koutou ngā iwi taketake o te whenua West Papua. Kia kaha, kia maia, kia manawanui.

Papua Merdeka!

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Māori women say traditional values are the key to combatting violence – media release

Media release 24 November 2013

white ribbon

 Te Wharepora Hou Māori women’s group calls on Māori across the country to commit to removing family violence by returning to traditional values and practices. 

“The violence experienced in our home and whānau is a direct outcome of colonisation which has removed whānau from the tikanga that mitigates such abuse” said Associate Professor Leonie Pihama of Waikato University. “We must not tolerate this form of destruction within our homes. Nor should we tolerate the ongoing violence perpetuated by the Crown on our whānau” she states.
 Te Wharepora Hou has been working to raise awareness of a range of issues that impact on Māori whānau.  Founding member Marama Davidson is also a part of the Glenn Inquiry into domestic violence and child abuse. She has been on the panels to ensure the voices of all whānau are heard, including Māori women and children.  “Māori women are saying very clearly that our values need to return to collective responsibility. They want better connected communities and have experienced how isolation has removed them from a shared intolerance on violence.” 
The rate of Family Violence for Māori is disproportionately high. Te Wharepora Hou is committed to providing information to support to Māori Providers and Healers at the forefront of supporting whānau to wellbeing.  Dr Pihama is a Principal Investigator in the Health Research Council Funded programme ‘He Kokonga Whare’. The programme was awarded to Te Atawhai o Te Ao Research Institute (Whanganui) to investigate issues of Historical and Intergenerational Trauma on Māori.  “The programme is at the cutting edge of engaging Historical Trauma and the need for Trauma informed approaches in Aotearoa” says Dr Pihama.  “This work contributes to an understanding of the origins of whānau violence in Aotearoa that stems from genocidal and ethnocidal acts imposed on whānau, hapū and iwi”. 
Te Wharepora Hou calls on whānau, hapū and iwi to take a zero tolerance stand on violence within and against whānau.
Release Ends
Listen to Dr Leonie Pihama on Radio Waatea talking about the issue here.
Marama Davidson 021 025 88302
Dr Leonie Pihama 021 274 1177
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National Day of Action Against Rape Culture – Marama Davidson speech

Marama Davidson speaking at Myers Park - March Against Rape Culture

Speaking at Myers Park – March Against Rape Culture

Below is a ‘tamer’ and extended version of the speech I offered to the Auckland march and rally against rape culture held on Saturday 16 November 2013.

Pink sign rape culture

“Kia ora koutou katoa

Firstly I acknowledge the mana whenua iwi and hapū of Tāmaki Makaurau whose lands we have just trampled on to march against rape culture. We acknowledge the very oppressions you have faced as Tāngata Whenua.

I am from Te Wharepora Hou Māori women’s group and today I speak as a mother, sister, daughter, aunty, friend and wife. I am Ngāti Porou, Ngāpuhi and Te Rarawa.

I extend my heartfelt appreciation to the organisers and your monumental efforts to see our country marching collectively to stamp on rape culture today. Thank you for inviting me to speak.

I want to offer a specific Māori women’s voice on the experience and response to any sexual violence. Māori are twice as likely to be affected by sexual violence but far less likely to access services. By no means do I wish to disregard the experience of any other group but there are learning’s for us all in presenting our specific experiences.
This sad statistic of Māori women and sexual violence sits in stark contrast to Māori women’s traditional status in pre-colonial society. Our pre-patriarchal Māori women held leadership positions in our spiritual, military, economic, political and cultural spheres. Part of the key to combating rape culture is to understand how the position of all women, including Māori women has been undermined by the dominating oppressive patriarchy. This does not deny that men are also victims of abuse. A better world for us all is one that acknowledges that each individual member of our family and community units is integral to the survival of the whole.

The rape culture that we experience today draws its oxygen from an unequal and unjust way of living. The rape culture we experience today disregards the tapu and sacred importance of consent over our bodies. The rape culture that we experience today overlooks the genesis of Māori women and our whakapapa to strong and powerful figures that honour us as whare tangata. Women are the bearers of humans and humanity.

For too long our Māori women narratives of power and equilibrium have been silenced. These narratives placed us in equal, respectful and complimentary relationships alongside our men and all genders. But the imposed trajectory has been devastating for Māori women and Māori whānau and we have much work to do to recover from it. Part of that devastation manifests itself in the shocking instance of Māori women and sexual violence that I mentioned at the start of this kōrero.

The spiritual links Māori women have to all parts of our human and non-human world uphold the inherent mana and tapu of our bodies. As this fundamental value of our bodies is destroyed, respect and dignity for each other is no longer automatically assumed. Furthermore this lack of respect is ingrained in our institutions so that the incident of sexual violence is only the first assault. The violation continues with the attitudes that line our power centres such as the police and the media. Rape culture is reflected in the language we use, the media we are dominated with, the marketing we are subjected to and the lack of education we receive. Rape culture is what happens when you deny women’s voices and participation at all levels of decision making and community advocacy.

So the subjugation of any woman today fails us all, and certainly sits in sharp contrast to our status as Māori women pre-colonisation. Certainly I do not believe that the current warped expectations of masculinity on our Māori men have worked for them at all, or for any men in our society. These warped concepts of masculinity do not even work for the stupid men who think they are enjoying their abuse of power. What sort of legacy do they leave for this world with their misogynist contributions? I pity them.

Rape apologists do nothing to inform and educate us so I applaud the stand made by many to get those mouths metaphorically taped. Besides, they have all had their damaging turns for far too long. And we need to do more taping of mouths. The dogma of people defending freedom of speech can go take a leap because they are confusing that freedom with a specific male privilege afforded to a few. It is this PRIVILEGE that has amplified their harmful irrelevant voices on dominating platforms. That is not freedom of speech and it is certainly NOT MERIT!

We recently saw Bob Jones stick up for rapists – we need to send strong messages to say Bob your time is over.

We also saw Willie and JT – and for a while their time is over in some part of broadcasting.

We now face further racist, sexist, anti-everybody slurs from the arrogant and ignorant musings of Paul Henry who will be paid hugely by Mediaworks for his repugnant vitriol and we need to send a strong message that his time is over.

Rape culture draws each breath from male privilege and in turn allows complete nongs to have symbolic megaphones when really we should be ripping it out of their hands. There are better voices to put up. Patriarchy draws its breath from all forms of oppression therefore we must fight it on all fronts.

Now is the time to talk about our collective responsibility towards one another and towards our place. Now is the time to talk about taking all forms of sexual violence seriously and standing beside all survivors to ensure healing, redress and justice. Now is the time to talk about men, women and all genders sharing rights and power. Now is the time to insist that our marginalised voices are amplified – the voices of people with disabilities, the voices of women and children, the voices of good men, the voices that speak to a progressive, secure and bright future for us all instead of for just a few. Now is the time to foster a community that would have seen those young roastbusting men rather starting a facebook page deploring all acts of sexual violence against their community sisters.

There is certainly a framework of equilibrium grounded in a Māori worldview that can contribute to this better vision for us all – a vision which leads us away from the stench of oppression and towards the sweeter smelling inclusive society that I believe we all want.

Thanks again to the organizers around the country who have brought us all together today. It has been my pleasure to support this national day of action against rape culture. It has been my honour to share some dreaming with you all.

Kia ora tātou katoa”

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