Over the past week the Māori research, academic and wider Māori community has been dealing with the announcement that the Tertiary Education Commission, through the Royal Society of New Zealand, will not be continuing support for Ngā Pae o Te Māramatanga.
Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga is the National Institute of Research Excellence for Māori Development and Advancement and is one of seven national Centres of Research Excellence that were selected for funding by the New Zealand Government in 2002 and subsequently, established as an Institute on 1 July 2002.
This ‘Open Statement’ has been released by Professor Linda Tuhiwai Smith who was a Founding Co-Director of Ngā Pae o Te Māramatanga with Professor Michael Walker. Te Wharepora Hou invited Professor Smith to share her response as a Guest Contributor and do so in support of the critical views raised.
An Open Statement on the true impact of the non-funding of Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga.
It takes years to develop a research infrastructure. It takes years to develop centres of research excellence. Firstly, it takes an excellent education system as researchers must succeed to the highest qualifications in their fields and new researchers need to be trained continuously.
It takes the right synergies of knowledge as excellent researchers are trained and supported in diverse knowledge cultures.
It takes discipline, perseverance and tolerance as researchers learn as much through failure and elimination as they do from success.
It takes insight to understand the implications of serendipity. It takes difference and determination to carve out new areas of knowledge that challenge current thinking.
It takes a wide community and network of similar minds as researchers learn from each other.
It takes vision and stamina to build novel programmes of research that can address complex and inter-related problems.
It takes a dose of sheer doggedness to forge a research direction when others want to set out to someplace different or to stay put.
It takes an alliance of related systems that review, fund and publish research, that translate it into public knowledge like curriculum, that apply research into other contexts, that produce new or improved practices and products.
It takes collaborations across disciplinary, institutional, national and international boundaries to get the best minds and skills available to advance the research.
It takes institutional support to provide the best working environment for researchers.
It takes institutional and public patience to wait for the next chapter of life changing research.
It takes massive investment by the public through education and by the public and others through the funding of research.
It takes a certain kind of ambition to persist in the pursuit of knowledge that may not yield quick fixes, widgets and gadgets, or social transformation in this generation and it takes a certain kind of society that believes it important to invest in the continuous development of knowledge for its longer term well-being.
In my area of Māori research, it took decades to develop the foundations of a single national research infrastructure. It took decades upon decades for Māori to make their way, one by one, through an education system that was not excellent to gain the highest
It took persistence to survive in knowledge cultures that did not value diversity let alone Māori knowledge.
It took vision to focus on producing a critical mass of Māori with the highest academic qualifications from New Zealand and international institutions.
It took the largest and possibly the most novel and challenging of collaborations to build a strong network of researchers who would focus their minds and efforts on Māori development.
It rounded up all the ‘ones’ and the ‘twos’ of Māori researchers scattered across institutions to create a critical community of researchers who could support new research.
It established journals, created avenues of engagement with the most suspicious of communities, and stimulated intellectual engagements across disciplines, communities, and languages. It supported research that was explicitly focused on creating change, on improving outcomes and on developing
It had to win institutional support by winning funding.
It created novel approaches that other Centres of Excellence borrowed and adapted.
It created new methodologies for exploring social and cultural interfaces that are cited in international journals and applied in many other contexts.
It’s capacity development programme for PhDs is replicated in parts of Canada and the USA at top Higher Education Institutions.
So what tumbles down when Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga is informed it will no longer be funded? A centre? Some funding? Yes of course, but the impact is much greater.
What tumbles down will cut more deeply into the capacity, momentum, community, system of knowledge, networks, relationships, intellectual excitement that was emerging from this Centre of Research Excellence.
What tumbles down is an infrastructure that was built from scratch, from the ones and twos, an infrastructure that had no previous models to borrow from, that was truly internationally innovative, multidisciplinary, that was producing exciting young scholars footing it internationally and in our own communities.
What tumbles down is a national infrastructure that could support Māori development across a range of dimensions that simply can not be provided for by existing institutions.
More importantly what tumbles down is a set of beliefs that the research system is genuinely interested in innovation, has a capacity to recognise or know how to support innovation outside its cultural frame, believes in its own rhetoric or actually understands the short term nature of its investments in research.
Nā Professor Linda Tuhiwai Smith
BIOGRAPHY OF CONTRIBUTOR
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
Professor Linda Smith is a leading international authority on Indigenous Education, Research, Kaupapa Māori and Health to name a few key areas. She is particularly well-known for the book “Decolonising Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples” which has changed the face of Research within Aotearoa and globally. She is a member of the Marsden Fund, serves on New Zealand’s Health Research Council, chairing the Māori Health Research Committee, and is past president of the New Zealand Association for Research in Education. She has extensive experience in building Māori and indigenous research capacity, and has helped establish three research institutes – including Ngā Pae o Te Māramatanga, New Zealand’s Māori Centre of Research Excellence. Professor Smith was awarded was awarded Te Tohu Pae Tawhiti, the New Zealand Association for Research in Education (NZARE) Inaugural Award for Research Excellence in Māori Education. She also received the NZARE 1998 Jean Herbison Lecture Award and a Churchill Fellowship in 1991.She has held key positions such as the Deputy Chair of the Council of Te Wānanga o Awanuiārangi, was a member of the Advisory Committee for Official Statistics New Zealand, and a member of the Māori Reference Group for the Tertiary Education Commission. From 2001-2004, she chaired the Māori Tertiary Education Reference Group responsible for advising the Ministry of Education on operational strategy for Māori tertiary education. She has served on many other bodies, including as a member of the Tertiary Education Advisory Commission (TEAC), advising the Minister of Tertiary Education on the shape of the tertiary education system for New Zealand. Professor Smith was a member of the Constitutional Review Panel 2011 -2013 and was awarded the 2012 Dame Joan Metge Medal for excellence and building relationships in the social science research community, for inspiring, mentoring and developing Māori researchers and has been made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the 2013 New Year Honours for her contribution to Māori Research.