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Four new indigenous research projects announced

Media release

Monday 3rd December, 2012

Four new indigenous research projects announced

Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga (NPM), New Zealand’s Indigenous Centre of Research Excellence, is pleased to announce four new research projects, led by researchers who will bring ground-breaking results to the forefront of indigenous research. These four projects were commissioned by NPM as they address important issues for Aotearoa, and are aligned with our three research priorities: optimising Māori economic performance; fostering te pā harakeke: healthy and prosperous families of mana; and enhancing Māori distinctiveness.

The four projects are:

In pursuit of the possible: Indigenous well-being – a study of indigenous hope, meaning and transformation
­We know many of the key elements for social transformation, but what is not known is how to actively stimulate them at the right time, pace and scale, with the appropriate self-correcting mechanisms and forms of resource support provided at moments of need. This project aims to create a new tool, namely an internationally comparative model of indigenous well-being. To do this, the researchers led by Professor Linda Tuhiwai Smith, Waikato University, will conduct an international comparative study of the conditions, strategies, catalysts and meanings that indigenous people employ to realise their aspirations for well-being. In the initial stages, they will engage an international indigenous community and an iwi as example of a Māori community. Further communities will be engaged to test out the well-being model in the latter stages of the project.

Fostering te pā harakeke: Advancing healthy and prosperous families of mana
This research project aims to determine how whānau might flourish. The researchers, led by Professor Mason Durie, Massey University, will focus on six themes – the characteristics of flourishing whānau; profiling the contemporary lives of Māori whānau; exploring the cultural realities of modern whānau; identifying the necessary resources (cultural, social, economic) for whānau to flourish; assessing the challenges facing whānau in 2025; and developing strategies that will enable whānau to flourish. The research will provide information that can be translated into action and will be especially relevant to iwi, central government, territorial authorities, local communities, services and whānau themselves. By identifying the characteristics of flourishing whānau and exploring ways those factors can be replicated, the research has the potential to transform circumstances and to shift the focus from ‘what is wrong’ to ‘what is right’. In the process a shift from a deficit to a strengths based approach will foster an associated attitudinal change that focuses on protective factors rather than risk factors.

How do we return the mauri to its pre-Rena state?

This project will evaluate and monitor the environmental, social, economic and cultural impacts of the grounding of the ship Rena on Otaiti, with a particular focus on the impacted areas of Maketū, Mōtītī, and Pāpāmoa. The research team led by Dr Kepa Morgan, The University of Auckland, will incorporate an assessment of the mauri of the impacted people within these areas and their environs. Mauri is a universal concept in Māori thinking and is the force between the physical and spiritual attributes of something. An improved understanding of the mauri impacts of this event and how iwi and hapū are responding will provide the basis for an evaluation of the contribution of mātauranga Māori in each context, informing disaster response thinking and contributing to the increased resilience of iwi and hapū. The iwi groupings will be led by Te Arawa ki Tai (Ngāti Pikiao, Ngāti Makino, Ngāti Whakaue, Waitaha, Tapuika, Ngāti Whakahemo and Ngāti Rangitihi). This research will add to existing knowledge by integrating the indigenous wisdom and scientific understandings of the Rena disaster. Currently the two bodies of knowledge sit alongside each other, but have little meaningful interaction.

Waka Wairua: Landscape heritage and the creative potential of Māori communities

This research will unravel heritage threads and leadership principles that connect New Zealand and Polynesia. Led by Associate Professor Merata Kawharu, The University of Auckland, the project will explore narratives relating to entrepreneurial leaders, including the early navigators who travelled between Tahiti, Rarotonga and New Zealand. The project will also examine outstanding Māori heritage landscapes in New Zealand and their creative potential. It aims to acquire and collate orally-held knowledge from community leaders from across New Zealand and the Pacific (Tahiti and Rarotonga), which will then be made available in a web 2.0 form. The cultural knowledge to feature on this site is not published, and there is no written account of the varied Polynesian narratives and perspectives in any collaborated form. Some accounts (for example, New Zealand Māori stories of Kupe) are published, but others on the same ancestor from other Polynesian perspectives, are not. The researchers will bring together these different and similar threads of narrative in the one place, and raise understanding within communities of their own heritage and the potential for transformation and positive change.

Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga (NPM) is one of New Zealand’s seven Centres of Research Excellence and consists of 16 participating research entities and is hosted by The University of Auckland. NPM conducts research of relevance to Māori communities and is an important vehicle by which New Zealand continues to be a key player in global indigenous research and affairs. Its research is underpinned by the vision to realise the creative potential of Māori communities and to bring about positive change and transformation in the nation and wider world.


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