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Autonomy of Māori Studies at Waikato University

O P E N L E T T E R

22 Aug 2018

Rt Hon James Bolger Prof Neil Quigley
Chancellor Vice-Chancellor
University of Waikato Council University of Waikato

Kia Ora

Autonomy of Māori Studies at Waikato University Te Pua Wānanga ki te Ao

The VC of Waikato University is proposing a new divisional structure that threatens the autonomy of the Faculty of Māori and Indigenous Studies (FMIS), amongst other units.

Under the current proposals, FMIS would be reduced from a faculty to a school and folded into a larger Division, along with Arts, Social Sciences and Law.

We note the University Strategy states:

Build more tangible teaching, research and strategic relationships with iwi and Māori communities, particularly with the Māori King, Waikato Tainui and the other iwi of the Kīngitanga, and the iwi represented on Te Rōpū Manukura.

In this light, we would like to ask three key questions:

1. How is the proposal consistent with the University's commitment to uphold the Treaty of Waitangi, notably the principle of tino rangatiratanga?

2. How is the proposal consistent with the University's active partnership with Waikato Tainui as mana whenua?

3. Was the proposal developed in consultation with, and fully supported by, Te Rōpū Manukura (Waikato's kaitiaki group)?

Focus

FMIS is highly significant for Māori and indigenous studies. But it is just as significant for non-Māori and indigenous peoples in Aotearoa NZ and elsewhere, providing knowledge, world-views and resources that enhance diversity in a world that faces increasing division and factionalism.

Process

To date, the process is strongly reminiscent of the catastrophic moves at Unitec over the last few years, in which the Executive Leadership Team pushed through its own proposals, ignoring staff responses. One of the consequences was highly disturbing dissolution of Māori and Pasifika units and resources. There is a report on Unitec at the following websites:

http://teu.ac.nz/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Blind-Faith-Deconstructing-Unitec.pdf

http://teu.ac.nz/2018/08/unitec-commissioner-warned/

We have two final questions:

• is there a real problem that needs to be fixed, other than the VC seeking to redistribute management loads and reporting lines?

• is there cogent evidence to support the proposal?

We urge the University to suspend the initiative.

nga mihi nui

Sincerely


David Cooke, National Chair, QPEC

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