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

Author: 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.

10 thoughts on “The Denial of Maori Research Development”

  1. Thank you for writing this Leonie. I certainly endorse these collective views and your well-versed response to this tragedy – of which it is. I was shocked when this news broke – and bloody worried about the future of Maori health research in this country. Although my name is not listed as an endorser of the briefing paper, I most certainly do support both the kaupapa and the recommendations. Please keep me in the loop. Dr. Lynne Russell

  2. I am absolutely stunned. It’s also utterly ironic that at a time when Indigenous knowledge is getting more traction internationally this huge backward step should happen in Aoteaora, although pushback has certainly been visible from certain quarters for done time. Nonetheless these outcomes are just unthinkable. I also most certainly support the kaupapa and recommendations and look forward to keeping up to date with this.

  3. Thank you for this article. I am an American Indian (Cayuga Nation in New Your, USA) I’ve been trying to fulfill my dream of coming to work with your People. I have over two decades of working in Indian Affairs in the US. I understand that while the outiside may be different for each Tribe, Nation and community, the fundamentals remain the same, marginalized, and controlled.
    I’ve sent many applications to the Treaty Settlement Office and Watangi Tribunal but they always tell me no. I’m planning on visiting NZ early 2015 and would love to meet with the Maori People, leadership, Elders etc and pay my respects to you.
    I think I would rather work with your People directly than through the government. I’ve worked with the US government on a wide variety American Indian issues for a very long time and have has many moments that I’m proud of, but I never forget I’m working in the belly of the spider so to speak and that my role has always been to protect our People and advocate for them at every opportunity. I’m fearless when it comes to that. I pray my small contribution of my life will help generations not yet born.
    As with America. Indian Tribes, we still fight to maintain what sovereignty we have, compete for limited resources and still face basic challenges of cultural, language and tradition retention for our children..
    I do not claim any to be anything in the realm of an authority on your Peoples experience but I have met many Maori People while working in Chicago at the field Museum and then again in Washington D.C. When I worked at the White House and other places. Every Maori person I had the honor of meetIng had the same powerful, yet loving presence, fierce, yet kind with a welcoming spirit and a ready smile. I’ve never forgotten and I made myself f a promise that I would go to your lands someday. I intend to keep that promise.
    If there is a group I might join here on linked in I’d be most grateful to read and learn and talk with you. I believe that we all walk the Good Red Road, in our own ways and have much more in common than differences. We are each other’s teachers, supporters, brothers ans sisters across the globe, in many languages and cultures and traditions, but we all have a common heart beat and desire to protect our People and our Great Mother Earth.

    N’ya W’eh ( Thank you in my language)
    Gwen (Menagwagequay Leaffe) Carr

  4. Colonial re-entrenchment rears it’s head in Canada as well.
    Has stevie harper been talking to your pakeha? He’s just cut funding to continued land claims research here.
    I had the pleasure of 5 weeks of being hosted around North Island some years ago, part of me remains with you.

  5. Kia ora koutou
    Do we accept this decision? Do we write submissions? Mobilise our national and international networks? What other actions do we have open to us? Treaty claim? Please keep me in the loop as I am in full support of any further action. Arohanui Keri Lawson-Te Aho

  6. If one looks at the amount of Maori organisations that no longer exist since this government came in is startling. In isolation one does not see those individual sites go. It is not until you take stock that there is a realisation that this government has overseen one of the most comprehensive and systematic culls of kaupapa Maori centric organisations/groups in history! Now it is our whanau rangahau facing the axe. Tino pouri tenei…engari whawhai tonu matou…

  7. Just getting into my pae tohu this year after doing post grad overseas and so excited to see the emergence of kaupapa Maori theory, research methodologies and methods to apply in my work. Im absolutely stunned at this development, but should we really be surprised? Knowledge is power and colonial control won’t want us to have any of it. I think that this is bigger than the foreshore and seabed actually as it is about control of knowledge, and a direct stab in the heart to our tino rangatiratanga. By the way, has anyone out there used wananga as a method of data collection yet? Im keen to do it and wonder if anyone else has so I can discuss challenges and issues around it. I hope I can get it past the ethics committee. Nga mihi. Huti

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