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Māori Party questions Joyce on Royal Society process

Media Statement

Thursday 13 March 2014

Māori Party questions Joyce on Royal Society process

The Māori Party is raising concerns over the process used to assess Centre of Research Excellence (CoRE) bids for continued funding. Pita Sharples today questioned the Minister of Tertiary Education Steven Joyce about the makeup of the Royal Society advisory committee and their assessment process, which led to four current CoRE being shut out, including the only current Māori Centre of Research Excellence Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga.

Dr Pita Sharples, MP for Tamaki Makaurau said “The Māori Party is outraged at the decision not to shortlist Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga in the CoRE review process, and has serious misgivings about the process used to assess Centre of Research Excellence proposals.”

“When we asked the Minister last week about Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga during question time, he said that ‘scientists not politicians’ should be assessing the proposals. Well why is it then, that two of the six people on the Royal Society Advisory Committee are not scientists, but rather professional board members? Board members who have worked for multi-national companies such as Rio Tinto, and BP.”

Dr Sharples said “we also question why there are no Māori on the committee, no social scientists on the committee, and indeed why there is only one woman on that committee. That’s hardly a diverse group of people sitting at the top making decisions on behalf of our diverse and culturally rich nation.”

“In fact if you look at the composition of the committee you will see three people with economic backgrounds, two people with pure science backgrounds and one representative from the Tertiary Education Commission.”

“We have raised the issue previously about the cultural competence of the people involved in the process to assess kaupapa Māori research. We were surprised to learn that the Chief Executive of the Tertiary Education Commission has said that there were indeed people with Māori research expertise assessing the proposal. Well who are they? Because as far as we have seen there are none, and some of our Māori researchers are world experts in indigenous research.”

“You need people who understand Māori methodologies, Māori research needs and processes, who know Māori knowledge systems, who accept tikanga Māori and mātauranga Māori, and who assess Māori research in the context of all of these things.”

Dr Sharples said “the point is that research investment made by this Government should be in the interests of this nation. Māori are part of this nation, and this funding cut does not serve Māori interests.”

“The Government may have devolved the decision making process, but they cannot devolve their responsibilities to their Treaty partner.”

“We will continue to raise our voices on this issue, and look for solutions to ensure that our Māori research capacity remains. We are pleased to see other political parties, Māori communities, organisations, and international groups are also raising their voices and are asking the question, what value is Government placing in supporting the kaupapa Māori research sector.”

ENDS

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