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Top Maori academic gives Keith Sinclair Lecture

Māori historian, member of the Waitangi Tribunal and award-winning author, Dr Aroha Harris, will give the University of Auckland’s Keith Sinclair Memorial Lecture this week.

Dr Harris, who won the inaugural Royal Society Te Apārangi Early Career Researcher Award in Humanities last year for her substantial contributions to Tangata Whenua: An Illustrated History, will speak on the politics of whānau life.

How have Māori maintained their resolve and aspirations for whānau ora while negotiating with, pushing against, and pressing beyond the State’s policies for Māori?, she asks.

“This lecture will address that question for a project ranging across the twentieth century, from the goals of Māori autonomy in the 1900s to the push for biculturalism and Māori-State partnership from the 1980s. The setting off point is the younger lives of my parents, as read through a collection of whānau letters carefully filed in a shoebox.”

Dr Harris says grounding her broader research question in the whānau dynamic serves as a practical reminder of certain unshakeable underpinnings in her history practice: “the inseparability of the past, the present, and me, and the centrality of whakapapa and subjectivity”.

Dr Harris, who belongs to Te Rarawa and Ngāpuhi iwi, co-wrote Tangata Whenua with the late University Professor of History, Dame Judith Binney FRSNZ and Atholl Anderson FRSNZ. She was lead author of the book’s final section, “Te Ao Hurihuri: The Changing World,” which explores the sociocultural history of twentieth-century Māori. This section was praised for providing new insights into lived reality for Māori, emphasising the creativity, resilience and agency of Māori communities in the face of significant sociocultural and economic challenges such as racism and poverty.

Dr Harris is a historian with the Waitangi Tribunal and is President of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association. Her research-based teaching at the University of Auckland focuses on Māori policy and race relations, Māori historical methods including oral histories, and Māori perspectives of the past.

"Aroha-nui to all": The politics of whānau life
18 October 2018
Venue: Lecture theatre, Old Government House (102-G36)

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