On the 10th, 11th and 12th March this year I sent out some thoughts to be distributed ‘far and wide’ drawing to the world’s attention what I thought would be the impact on Māori research for Ngā Pae o Te Māramatanga to lose it’s CoRE funding. Along with the concerns expressed by other Māori leaders, researchers and communities our emails and posts did indeed go far and wide eliciting strong reaction and mobilising an amazingly positive response both here at home in Aotearoa and from our colleagues around the world.
The combined, creative and powerful use of social media, hui, formal letters, discussions, meetings and high level advocacy, seasoned with an appropriate dose of cynicism and sprinkled with the occasional outbursts of outrage seemed to have focused the minds of those in Government. So, yesterday it was great to hear that the New Zealand Government’s Budget included funding of $5 million a year for a Māori Centre of Research Excellence. It was good to hear Dr Pita Sharples, the Minister of Māori Affairs talk about it this morning, as of all Ministers I am sure he understood how much it takes to build research capacity.
The Budget did not guarantee that this funding would be ring fenced for Ngā Pae o Te Māramatanga but would instead be subject to a contestable process. Quite frankly, I see that as a massive win from what on the 11th March looked like certain doom. It is a win in a very specific space of research and today it gives me hope that Māori scholars will have opportunities to apply their knowledge and skills to meeting the knotty and wicked challenges of our times. The CoREs present but one pathway for research and in the scheme of things they are just one of the many ways that research is funded. I know we need to influence those other processes.
Today I might have a little rest and bask in some rare success. I even have warm and fuzzy feelings about our scholars of the past and am greatly relieved that our generation haven’t messed it up on our watch. Whew!
So, let me thank all of our indigenous and non-indigenous colleagues from around the world, many of whom wrote powerful letters of support. Many thanks to our Māori research communities who have stepped up to offer support and our Pākehā colleagues who have been steadfast behind the scenes. Thank you to our iwi leaders and organisations from whom we have received unequivocal support. I thank those in Government who influenced the budget and responded to our concerns. Tomorrow we start work again as there is much much more that needs to be done for our people.
Linda Tuhiwai Smith
Pro Vice Chancellor Māori
Dean of Te Pua Wānanga ki te Ao The School of Māori and Pacific Development
The University of Waikato, Aotearoa