A Māori CoRE Funded: A Thank You To Our Supporters

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

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Racism and Cultural Misappropriation

Over the past month I have been made aware of three clear acts of racist misappropriation of Native American imagery here in Aotearoa. This is not new, we know that, but it is rare to have so many examples here in such a short period of time. All of those actions were engaged directly and raised critical issues about the deep lack of understanding or awareness of the insidious nature of cultural misappropriation.

Around a month ago a Māori woman student indicated that the Waikato Law Students Association was have an event within which a section was themed ‘Cowboys and Indians’, after complaints this was changed to a theme that it is said related to the University colours ‘I See Red’ and explanation for the initial theme seems to never have been given. The question must be asked how a Law Students Association who should, theoretically at least, have some understanding of oppression and cultural misappropriation and commodification of Indigenous representation, can in 2014 be still advocating a theme of ‘Cowboys and Indians’.

Then over the last week one of the largest festivals in this country Rhythm and Vines promoted an poster of two young women with costume shop type ‘Native Headdresses’ as a part of promoting the festival. This quickly received a challenging response and within a day the festival organisers removed the image and apologised on twitter.
“We sincerely apologise for the image used and any offence this may have caused. The use of this image was inappropriate and has been removed,” Rhythm and Vines
The challenge to Rhythm and Vines saw a shift in thinking by the organisers and without doubt provided a learning to those involved in the promotion about the need to have more awareness about such issues. The quick removal of the image is a clear indication of that acknowledgement by the organisers and was affirmed by many as a result.
Some have commented that such responses are over the top or question how such actions can or are offensive. Put simply they are offensive because (i) they denigrate sacred symbols and sacred ways of being; (ii) they maintain colonial representations of Native Peoples as ‘savage’ (iii) they reproduce notions that Indigenous cultural symbols and taonga (our treasures) are open and available for anyone who desires them with little or no awareness of their significance. Those are three simple reasons for why such actions are offensive and there are many others.
http://www.bluecorncomics.com/wannabes.htm provides a wide range of analysis of the issue of cultural appropriation of Native American taonga and images and the increasing phenomena of ‘wannabes’ :
In Z Magazine, December 1990, Janet McCloud (Tulalip) explained the basic problem with wannabes:
First they came to take our land and water, then our fish and game….Now they want our religions as well. All of a sudden, we have a lot of unscrupulous idiots running around saying they’re medicine people. And they’ll sell you a sweat lodge ceremony for fifty bucks. It’s not only wrong, its obscene. Indians don’t sell their spirituality to anybody, for any price. This is just another in a very long series of thefts from Indian people and, in some ways, this is the worst one yet.
In his book Red Earth, White Lies, Vine Deloria, Jr. discussed why Americans wish they could be Indians:
They are discontented with their society, their government, their religion, and everything around them and nothing is more appealing than to cast aside all inhibitions and stride back into the wilderness, or at least a wilderness theme park, seeking the nobility of the wily savage who once physically fought civilization and now, symbolically at least, is prepared to do it again.
Critiques and challenges to such racist appropriation has been consistently voiced by Indigenous Peoples for generations however continued ignorance and cultural arrogance continues. This week Stephanie Key, the daughter of New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, added her offensive imagery to the many other racist representations through her representation of a image described by the New Zealand Herald as follows:
“But already one of the pop-art style self-portraits — Key wearing an elaborate pink, feathered, war headdress, lacy pink knickers and a pink modesty star over her nipple — has been criticised for being culturally inappropriate.”

A more appropriate description would be that Stephanie Key has indulged her white privilege with soft porn imagery that not only misappropriates Native American imagery and taonga but which demeans and defiles the sacredness of both the Headdress and the Pipe.
These representations and acts of misappropriation are grounded in colonial thinking of Native and Indigenous Peoples more broadly as the ‘savage’ other’. They are racist and ignorant. They highlight white privilege and the ongoing assumption that anything is available to their use and abuse. This is not art. This self indulgent white racist appropriation. The fact that it comes from such a privileged place such as the daughter of the Prime Minister of this country makes it more disgusting.

This is not the first time such arrogance has shown itself by children of white men in power. Christina Fallin, the daughter of the Governor of Oklahoma also used a Headdress to promote herself and her band. This was also responded to directly by a range of commentators. On the Native Appropriations site an open letter to Fallin was penned that informed her of the history of Oklahoma, where Andrew Jackson enforced the Indian Removal Act which brought about genocidal, ethnocidal actions against the Cherokee and many other Native nations around the country:
“Cause here’s the thing. There is nothing about this that is “innocent” or “respectful.”
Let me tell you a story. I’m a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. Though I’ve never lived in Oklahoma, I have a lot of family there, and claim it as one of my “homes,” because that’s where my community is based. But here’s the thing: my tribe is not there by chance or by choice, my tribe, and the vast majority of the other Natives peoples in Oklahoma, are there by force and by trauma. In 1830, the US government and Andrew Jackson passed something called the “Indian Removal Act,” which resulted in the removal of thousands and thousands of Native peoples from their homelands in the southeast. You know where those Native peoples were forced to march? Oklahoma. Though it was referred to as “Indian Territory” then. So all that “Native American culture” you’ve been able to come in contact with? It’s thanks to violence, colonialism, and genocidal policies. It’s not an innocent cultural exchange.” (http://nativeappropriations.com/2014/03/dear-christina-fallin.html)

The decontextualisation racism against Indigenous Peoples is what enables such arrogant acts of cultural misappropriation. The removal of taonga, of sacred symbols, of Indigenous representation from an understanding of the historical and cultural context serves only to privilege those in power who believe they have a fundamental colonial white supremacist right to take from our people whatever and whenever they deemed necessary. The implications and the outcome of such colonial imperialist thinking is the ongoing perpetuation of racist oppressive acts against Indigenous Peoples.
“Notice the words I keep using here? Forcibly, stripped, prohibited, assimilated. This is not a happy history. This is a history marked by violence and by trauma. So while you may feel “eternally grateful” for your exposure to our cultures, you’re deliberately ignoring your own history if you think your donning of a headdress is “innocent.” Let’s fast forward to 2014. Now “tribal trends” are totally “in.” You can walk into any store in the mall and see “Native” imagery everywhere. As a Native person, when I look at them, I can’t help but remember the not-so-distant past when my people weren’t allowed, by law, to wear these things. It’s such a constant reminder of the colonial power structures still in place. Back in the day, white people had the power to take away our culture, and now they have the power to wear it however they see fit. These are our images, our cultural symbols, yet we are completely powerless to have control over them. It may seem extreme, but the best way I can say it is that your wearing of the headdress is an act of violence that continues the pain of colonization. “Please forgive us if we innocently adorn ourselves with your beautiful things.” The privilege and violence of that statement astounds me. “Please forgive us if we innocently use your beautiful land,” “Please forgive us if we innocently educate your beautiful children,” “Please forgive us if we innocently sexualize your beautiful women.” These actions are not benign.” ((http://nativeappropriations.com/2014/03/dear-christina-fallin.html)

The online discussions provided on sites such as Native Appropriations provide much depth of analysis and are both challenging and informing. It is not difficult for anyone to access such critique if they chose to do so. Clearly those in such privileged positions such as Christina Fallin and Stephanie Key do not see that to be necessary. They clearly do not see that there is need for them to be informed about the cultures that they steal from or denigrate. Their positions of privilege assume a place of dominance for them over Indigenous cultures. So they appropriate and they abuse with no concern for the impact. And there is an impact. Racism has a devastating impact. Racism kills our spirit, our souls, our hearts. Racism also kills our friends, our families, our relations. The perpetuation of racist acts of misappropriation is one part of a wider system of ethnocide that impacts upon Indigenous Peoples minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day… and has so for generations.

For more information please read the following blogs and sites:


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Limited Scope, Limited Vision, Limited Benefit: The Issue of CoRE Funding Decisions and the Marginalisation of Māori Research

This Blog from Associate Professor Leonie Pihama is a response to the announcement of  funding for six Centres of Research Excellence.

Today TEC announced the centres in the new round of Centre of Research Excellence that will be funded from the round initiated in 2013.

The six CoRE announced are:
The Maurice Wilkins Centre, Te Punaha Matatini – The Centre for Complex Systems, and Networks Medical Technologies CoRE, all hosted by the University of Auckland;
Brain Research New Zealand – Rangahau Roro Aotearoa, co-hosted by University of Otago and University of Auckland.
The MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology, hosted by Victoria University of Wellington,
The Dodd-Walls Centre for Photonic and Quantum Technologies, hosted by University of Otago.

An interesting and sadly predictable line up. All the CoRE are Science, Biomedical or Clinical based centres. All but one of the CoRE are hosted by either the University of Auckland or the University of Otago. Both these universities also hold dominant positions in many of the upcoming National Science Challenges. A similar picture is being painted in the National Science Challenges with the University of Auckland and the University of Otago have assumed dominant positions in key health related challenges.

Even more significant was the axing of the funding to Ngā Pae o Te Māramatanga, the only multi-institutional, multi-disciplinary CoRE that provided consistent high quality research in regards to areas of concern to whānau, hapū, iwi and Māori concerns. One has to ask exactly where those concerns may be situated in these current CoRE. Well given the limited focus of each of the CoRE there is little likelihood of much benefit to Māori or to Māori research needs. I am not saying there will be no benefit, but I am saying that any benefit that may come to Māori, from the reductionist approach that clearly has determined what constitutes Research Excellence in this country, will be limited to biomedical or clinical fields. Inside those fields there are significant issues. For example it is clear that in the clinical developments we are more likely to be the ‘tissue samples’ and the ‘objects’ of the research than we will be the beneficiaries. What is also clear is that Māori will not be in control, will not define and will not have any ability to protect ourselves as this current obsession with a reductionist approach to issues in the health sector.

We have to ask why exactly do we need 6 CoRE all focused in these limited areas and hosted primarily by 2 Universities? Why do we need so many CoRE in such limited areas of research? Who determines what research is valuable? Who determined that Māori research has no value or contribution to make in the CoRE arena? Why are the fields funded determined to be more important than the lived social issues that currently face this country?

The absolute denial of Māori research interests, of Māori research needs and aspirations. The total invisibility of Kaupapa Māori, of social sciences, of research areas that provide for engaging with real lived social issues is appalling. Critical issues that face Māori and many other New Zealanders are clearly of no importance in the decision making in regards to these CoRE, Much the same can be said of the National Science Challenges. The obsession that all these initiatives be led by science and scientists (excluding Māori or critical social sciences of course!) mean that this government is committing over $1billion to a privilege select group of researchers. As a part of the decision today there has been comment by the two most awarded host Institutions:

“Auckland University Vice-Chancellor Professor Stuart McCutcheon said hosting four CoREs was an “outstanding result” for the university.
“The CoREs are testament to the breadth and depth of research capability at the University of Auckland, and our involvement means we will be contributing to all six of the National Centres of Research Excellence.”
Professor Harlene Hayne, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Otago, saying the new CoREs were a “clear indication” of the university’s research standing.”

What these comments lead us to believe is that the meritocratic myth is alive and well. The meritocratic myth tells us:
Ability + Effort = Merit

Clearly the two universities believe that being awarded the CoRE’s is a merit result from their ability and effort. Where there are clearly highly skilled and excellent researchers involved in these CoRE there are also a range of broader factors that contribute to this decision including such factors as:
1. the focus for selection was clearly limited to the areas of research specialty they are involved in which is highlighted by the limited areas of focus for the 6 CoRE
2. Institutional racism means that there were no Māori on the panels and therefore there was no actual peer decision making in regards to Māori CoRE proposals
3. The marginalisation of Māori knowledge means that the policy of Vision Matauranga Māori is not scored and there were no panel members capable of assessing Vision Matauranga Māori
4. There is no investment in areas of Kaupapa Māori
5. There is no investment in areas of social science or broader societal issues

The list could go on. The point being that this decision is not solely about having proven research excellence or ‘research standing’, as there are key points that indicate that this process and decision making were predetermined by a whole range of beliefs and assumptions around what knowledge is considered important and what knowledge and research investigation would be privileged and prioritised.

This process and these decisions are appalling and reek of racist and neoliberal determinations of what constitutes research, what knowledge is privileged and what researchers interests are served by such decision-making. We should not accept that there are only fundamentally two areas that deserve research support which are basically (1) the biomedical/clinical fields and (2) the development of new technologies. Māori should not accept this. Wider New Zealand society should not accept this. This decision and the current approach to the National Science Challenges must be directly challenged. There are many critical issues facing this country and to be enabling of a narrow research agenda and supporting only a very select privileged group of researchers is the worst reflection of the impact of what is a neoliberal conservative approach to research in Aotearoa.

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Nga Pae o Te Maramatanga: Issues with the Centre of Research Excellence Fund Round and Process 2013-14

Tena koutou,

This blog has been developed by Te Wharepora Hou to provide an overview of issues directly related to the TEC and Royal Society Centre of Research Excellence Fund Round and Process 2013-14.  We have brought together information from a range of sources and added some recommendations to associated Ministers.  We encourage readers to adapt this information and that from previous blogs by Professor Linda Tuhiwai Smith and to write directly to Ministers calling for intervention. 

Some Key points on The Process

Peer Review

The application by Nga Pae o Te Maramatanga was not assessed by its peers.  There were no Māori on the panel.  There were no members of the panel knowledgeable of tikanga Māori, te reo Māori or matauranga Māori.  There were no members of the panel knowledgeable of Kaupapa Māori and Māori research approaches.   There were no members of the panel who had connections to whānau, hapū, iwi or Māori organisations and broader communities who are the direct stakeholders of the work undertaken by Nga Pae o Te Maramatanga.

Panel members not named till after shortlist notification

Royal Society was asked and  they advised that Selection Panel members were not going to be named.  Panel members were then identified on Royal Society website during week commencing 3 March (shortlist notified 1 March). Why were they not named prior to this? And why were Nga Pae advised they will not be and then they were named publically on the Royal Society’s website?

Positive International/National Reviews

Nga Pae o Te Maramatanga received three positive international and national reviews; one at least could be described as glowing. There was little to rebut. It is questionable as to whether these reviews given the level of significance that they should have, particularly given the inability of the panel to assess Māori research.

The role of Royal Society 

Here is a quote from the CoRE funding round guidelines[1]:

It is not the role of the Royal Society of New Zealand to make funding decisions. Rather, their role is one of facilitation and “guardianship” of the assessment process, ensuring that the process is credible and defensible. To achieve this, staff will: organise all logistical aspects of the process;

  • assist the Chair of the CoREs Advisory Committee in determining realistic timetables for meetings and visits;
  • record decisions and collate feedback for applicants;
  • record any conflicts of interest and actions taken; and
  • forward the final recommendations to the Tertiary Education Commission.

It is possible that the TEC did not see that an opportunity had been given to the Royal Society to make what effectively amounts to a funding decision. Nor that Royal Society expected this.  However, by not shortlisting have they made a funding decision?

Secondly, perhaps they did not see that the Royal Society could make a decision of this magnitude (not to fund 4 existing CoREs) without involving the funder, namely the TEC.

No indication in 2012/13 from TEC officials that fundamental change is required

Throughout the rebid process,  Nga Pae received consistent messages from Tertiary Education Commission officials that the Minister was “generally satisfied with the CoREs” and was not seeking major changes to them.  Nga Pae o Te Maramatanga were lead to believe that the Minister was seeking greater yields of value and productivity from them rather than fundamental change. The fact that four CoREs will not be funded is a decision of extraordinary magnitude and entirely contrary to the tenor of the discussions had with TEC officials.

Was it planned to consider existing CoREs in a different way?

The CoRE guidelines state:

Recommendations to the TEC :

As part of the Government’s commitment to supporting collaborative research the CoREs Fund was increased by 10%, bringing the total annual fund to just under $35 million. The 2013/14 CoREs selection round is for operating funding only, and is a fully contestable round.

The CoREs Advisory Committee will recommend to the TEC which proposals it considers should be funded, and the level of funding to award. The TEC Board will make the final decisions and report back to Cabinet after the selection round in 2014 to seek agreement for further operating appropriations for the Centres of Research Excellence, including disinvestment decisions if relevant, prior to announcing the outcomes of the selection round to the sector.

Perhaps there was some expectation that current CoREs would be considered somewhat differently.  Or at least get short listed and their outcome included in the final decision for TEC Board ultimate decision and consultation with Cabinet regarding funding or wind down funds if any. This highlights the issue without considering context and significance of this decision – particularly for Maori and Maori research. Note that TEC has not advised CoREs not short listed, now known to have their funding cease at the end of 2015 whether there is a wind down period or any requirements.  Suggesting it is unplanned/unknown at present.


CoREs were advised initially and formally (to be confirmed communication and medium) from TEC that the CoRE rebid submission process would be from September 2013- March/April 2014 (EOI to full proposal submission).  A decision was then made and concern create that the timeframe then changed to 6 December 2013 for full final proposals – this changing everyone’s strategies and plans.  The reason one understood to be the Minister wishing to make an announcement in June 2014 and prior to election along with other science investments.

This reduced timeframe, took CoREs by some surprise.  Ngā Pae had and has a very busy and full contract, annual programme and thus has to deliver current contracted and planned requirements while submit a proposal under a new tight timeframe.  Did the change in timeframe adversely affect the CoREs, the process and research excellence required and expected?  Ngā Pae missed out, other CoREs did.  What is the quality of those that remain?

The timeframe also pushed the Advisory Committees meetings and decision – there was very short turn around for review and consideration of documents then discussion of these documents and recommendations prior to having to announce the short list (those for site visit).  Was there adequate time to do justice to the process, the applications and consider the right decisions for CoREs in NZ?

Some Additional Questions

  • Short list number – why are there so few applications shortlisted?

Only 8 proposals were short-listed by the Royal Society’s Advisory Committe, yet it was indicated in the guidelines that 10-12 would be short-listed.

It is noted by the Advisory Committee guidelines for CoREs Fund 2013/14, dated October 2013.

“The purpose of this meeting is to review the ~15 applications on the long list provided by the Selection Panels and to generate a short list ~10-12 proposed CoREs for the Advisory Committee to a site visit.” (pg 8)


They do also suggest that only proposals demonstrating research excellence will go forward to the 3rd phase.

 “Research excellence is a first priority; applications will be considered against this criterion and only go forward in the assessment if they meet the threshold for excellence.”  (ibid: pg 2)

It must be asked how research excellence is determined when dealing with ‘new’ CoRE applications  that have not established themselves within this context.

Why did the committee not visit Current CoREs?

Given the significance of the decision not to short list current CoREs, therefore have a site visit and not fund them further, jeopardizing their future and ceasing them as CoREs, why did current CoREs not get a site visit?  This means a decision to terminate 4 CoREs was made, perhaps without consideration of the context, lost investment, potential and huge effort to build and develop the collaborations and processes to get the significant outputs and outcomes the CoREs provide.  The decision was made solely on paper, one written proposal – which was under time pressure and some false understanding of performing well and no major changes expected/wanted.

The Royal Society Advisory Committee guidelines for CoREs Fund 2013/14 state:

March Site Visits

Following the February meeting, the Advisory Committee will conduct site visits to each host institution of the short listed proposed CoREs. These site visits will allow members of the Advisory Committee to ask further questions and raise issues that are not readily addressed in the written proposal. The visits also allow the Committee to assess the suitability of the host organisation’s provision of facilities, and to observe interactions between representatives of both host and partner organisations. Each site visit is anticipated to last for approximately half a day.

This appears to recognise the significance of further questions and information to address matters not included or requested in the application/written proposal.  Thus enabling questions of performance, how issues raised in assessment are addressed or even understood to ensure the correct and robust decision.

Given these are Centres of Research Excellence for Aotearoa, Why does the Scoring criteria include the ability to be funded by an international agency?

It is noted that grading will include if the CoRE would be funded by an International funder. This grading process denies the specific nature of Nga Pae o Te Maramatanga as being a distinctive and unique CoRE that is grounded within Māori research approaches, methodologies and methods.  These are not elements that are understood fully by an assessing panel that has no experience or knowledge of Kaupapa Māori or Māori research approaches.

The Grading system is noted as follows:

Please see page 4 at: http://www.royalsociety.org.nz/media/20131209_CoREs_referee_guidelines.pdf

Grading System (Section 2; confidential)

In Section 2 of the report, please provide two grades. This section consists of radio buttons on the online portal. Note that the grades will not be made available to applicants, which is why this scale is included in “confidential” information in Section 2.

Grade A is an overall grade for the proposed research of the CoRE (the first criterion given above).

Please use the following scale:

Grade 1: Outstanding (almost certain to be funded by any international agency)

Grade 2: Excellent (very likely to be funded by any international agency)

Grade 3: Well above average (worthy of funding)

Grade 4: Average (to be funded only if money permits as contains minor flaws)

Grade 5: Below average (unlikely to be funded as contains moderate flaws)

Grade 6: Well below average (would not be funded as contains serious flaws)

Some additional points:

Performance of CoREs

A recent review of current CoREs, highlighted the performance to TEC’s standards.  TEC notes on its website:

Review of CoREs Funding

In 2012 and 2013, the Ministry of Education carried out a review of the CoREs Fund.

The review found that the CoREs policy supports high-quality research in a tertiary context, with positive social and economic benefits to New Zealand.

As a result of the review, a new performance monitoring framework is being developed by the Ministry and the TEC to show the contribution CoREs are making. The framework will provide for how the TEC will monitor each CoRE’s commitments.

More information about the review’s findings can be found at the Ministry of Education’s website.

Funding round advice

TEC also notes on their website:

Funding round : 2013/14 selection round

As part of its commitment to supporting collaborative research, the Government is holding a selection round for CoREs in 2013/14. The 2013 Budget allocation increased the fund by 10%, bringing the total amount of annual funding to just under $35 million. The CoREs funding is for operational costs and operational expenditure only.

The TEC has contracted the Royal Society of New Zealand to establish the necessary processes to provide the TEC with recommendations for funding future CoREs. The Royal Society of New Zealand provided similar support in previous CoREs selection rounds, and is recognised for its independence and understanding of research provision.

The above again highlights, as the Royal Society guidelines did, that the role of the Royal Society was to make recommendations to TEC, not funding decisions.  The non inclusion of Nga Pae o Te Maramatanga in the final round is effective a funding decision.

A note to TEC and Minister Joyce, Minister Sharples and Minister English

There is clear evidence that the process undertaken in the selection of the CoRE applications to move in to the final round and to be considered for funding has been flawed from the beginning.

Nga Pae o Te Maramatanga has not been assessed by its peers.

Other CoRE have had specialists from their disciplines and research areas on the assessment panels.  Nga Pae o Te Maramatanga did not have specialist Māori researchers, whānau, hapū, iwi or Māori research development networks on the panel.   This is sufficient to order a judical review.  However, we submit that Ministers can intervene in ways that enable these issues to be addressed.

We submit to Ministers that:

  1. Intervene and move to have the Nga Pae o Te Maramatanga decision revisited with reinstatement into the final round.
  2. Ministers provide a clear Treaty partnership model through the funding of Nga Pae o Te Maramatanga in this CoRE round to enable Māori development initiatives to continue to develop
  3. Ministers provide within the next five period of CoRE Funding an additional stable, secure financial and resourcing provision for the entrenchment of a National Māori Research Institute that is hosted collaboratively by Māori member entities and which will consolidate the work done by Nga Pae o Te Maramatanga

[1]See file ‘20131021_CoREs_SP_Guidelines’

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


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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The Impact and Contribution of Indigenous Centres of Research Excellence


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 Guest Blog continues the commentary begun yesterday by Professor Linda Tuhiwai Smith in regards to the decision to not continue funding to the Māori Centre of Research Excellence  ‘Ngā Pae o Te Māramatanga. The intention of this piece is to highlight the significance of the impact of an Indigenous Centre of Excellence such as Ngā Pae o Te Māramatanga and how it contributes to wider Indigenous Development aspirations both within Aotearoa and internationally.

Commentary Part II: Ngā Pae o Te Māramatanga

You may well ask what difference an Indigenous Centre of Research Excellence makes in the larger scheme of research?

New Zealand is just one of several countries that fund different kinds of research groups, programmes, clusters, entities and institutes. They generally do this to accelerate new knowledge, strengthen particular kinds of research, provide concentrated and longer term funding comfort for research of strategic importance, and provide deep focus of intellects on specific research questions. Some are funded from their government science budgets or health budgets. New Zealand CoREs are funded from the Education budget. Science research is funded from the Research, Science and Technology budget. The science budget funds the science challenges and health research.

I have reviewed CoRE proposals for other countries and been an external reviewer of an indigenous institute of health research in Canada. I have also referred international proposals and provided expert advice to funding agencies on indigenous and education research. In my experience and reading most CoREs are science focused but see themselves as multidisciplinary. All are led by the very best researchers in their fields. Most draw on collaborations across institutions. Many have very extensive outreach programmes to schools, communities to international colleagues. Some have developed innovative training programmes that send students to different institutions around the globe. They all build capacity. They all undertake multiple research projects. Many of them foster new research programmes with fledgling entities or NGOs or businesses. They publish a range of resources, they run conferences, they host visiting scholars, they stimulate debate, they advocate, they share practices, they fund scholarships. They produce researchers with skill sets in areas that did not exist before. They provide a deep well of research. Their countries are proud of them.

Ngā Pae o Te Māramatanga has worked hard to carry out all those things. Unlike all other similar type entities Ngā Pae has been the only Centre in the world to be focused on the complex issues of Indigenous Development, on exploring the potential of different knowledge systems and paradigms to produce new knowledge, on engaging Indigenous researchers and Indigenous communities in development projects across a spectrum of social, environmental, economic and cultural domains and on creating new capacities in research, in publishing and translation, in institution building, in the application of Indigenous knowledge alongside other methodologies.

Individuals and small groups of indigenous researchers from the Arctic to Latin America, from Africa to Australia and from North America to Aotearoa plug away at this stuff by themselves. Ngā Pae o Te Māramatanga scales that up several notches. It reaches and engages researchers across the world. Top and emerging international Indigenous scholars serve alongside Māori researchers on editorial boards, act as journal reviewers, assess the quality of research, review research proposals, attend Ngā Pae conferences, co- supervise Māori doctoral students, mentor Māori post doctoral fellows, collaborate on research projects here and abroad.

There are many Māori researchers across all the universities whose careers have been supported in some way by Ngā Pae through travel and conference grants, through having an article published, through research funding, through conference presentations. Ngā Pae is a collaboration of a broad range of scientists, social scientists, health and education researchers, engineers and architects, arts researchers and development specialists.

Many of the doctoral students who participated in the MAI support programme have gone on to win prestigious grants, have had their work published, and have got established research careers. Many of our researchers owe much to Ngā Pae for their research performance outputs, for the opportunities they have had and for the mentoring and service that senior researchers have provided. Of course not all Māori individual researchers have been involved in Ngā Pae but all universities, two wānanga, one Crown Research Institute and iwi and community based research organisations have been formally involved as participating entities. Open research rounds have facilitated an even wider group of researchers to apply for funding.

So, what difference does Ngā Pae o Te Maramatanga make?

Ngā Pae scales up the efforts that many of us have made in our own little silos to develop Māori research excellence. There are smaller centres of Māori researchers in institutions but Ngā Pae connected them to a national network and enabled them to expand their research. It enabled an inspiring education intervention at the higher education level. It established research programmes that focused on strategic areas of Māori and Indigenous development. It lifted the research performance of researchers. It trained research leaders. It mapped and tracked research capacity. It established innovative collaborations such as with the Fulbright Scheme to expand researcher opportunities. It was beginning to achieve for Māori what New Zealand governments have wanted from research more broadly, a massive joined up network of researchers working purposefully towards improving New Zealand.

So, why would that be deliberately undone? Mmmmm

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 and health, and is particularly well-known for her book “Decolonising Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples”. 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.

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An Open Statement on the true impact of the non-funding of Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga

Over the past Imageweek 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



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.

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