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Māori Funds Welcomed; But Caution Needed

Māori Funds Welcomed; But Caution Needed

The government’s announcement to invest up to $2.5 million a year over the next two years in Māori-led science and innovation has been cautiously welcomed by Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga (NPM), the country’s only Māori Centre of Research Excellence. The money will be administered through the Te Pūnaha Hihiko – Vision Mātauranga Capability Fund to develop the science and innovation potential of Māori people, organisations, resources and knowledge in areas that support the four themes of the MBIE Vision Mātauranga policy.

The themes are indigenous innovation; taiao/environment; hauora/health and mātauranga/education – exploring indigenous knowledge, and science and innovation.

This is not new funding, or funding for Māori-led research, but rather funding that has been administered for some time under the Vision Mātauranga policy of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) to unleash Māori potential.

This news follows the Royal Society of New Zealand’s decision not to shortlist NPM, which is hosted by the University of Auckland and consists of 16 participating research entities, in the Tertiary Education Commission’s Centre of Research Excellence Fund round.

The decision caused outrage among academics, researchers and communities not only in New Zealand but also throughout the world because it will likely terminate the only national research centre in the world that concentrates totally on Māori development and Māori-led research in the only country in the world where it can be situated. Unless other funding and support is secured the Māori research infrastructure and contributions made may be lost.

“However, this new initiative is a fabulous opportunity that hapū and iwi should give serious consideration,” said NPM’s Research Director, Dr Dan Hikuroa.

“We strongly encourage all eligible parties to participate in this investment strategy and realise the opportunity it represents.”

Dr Hikuroa said that NPM welcomes approaches from eligible organisations, including hapū and iwi, to facilitate connection and collaboration with the NPM researcher network for this funding oppurtunity.

This fund does not represent new, unexpected investment, he says.

“While welcomed, NPM notes that without a secure funding base it will be difficult to fully realise the potential of Māori. Te Pūnaha Hihiko funding guidelines explicitly state that this money is not to be used for research purposes”.

“Therefore, the future of Māori research, which ensures innovation and benefit to the nation are captured, will remain uncertain until future research monies are guaranteed”.

“Investment in Māori research, not just that which looks at Māori or with relevance to Māori, but that is Māori-led, utilising Māori knowledge, methodologies and approaches alongside other methods, is minimal compared to other areas and a permanently funded Māori research entity must be established,” said Dr Hikuroa.

Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga (NPM) is a Centre of Research Excellence consisting of 16 participating research entities and 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. Visit


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