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A homecoming and an exciting partnership

A homecoming and an exciting partnership for Awanuiārangi

Dr Taima Moeke-Pickering (Ngāti Pukeko, Tūhoe) the Director of Native Human Services at Laurentian University in Ontario, Canada returned last week to her hometown of Whakatane to re-sanction a Memorandum of Understanding between her university and Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi.

A special ceremony was held at Awanuiārangi attended by both Dr Sheila Cote-Meek, the Associate Vice-President Indigenous Studies at Laurentian University and Dr Moeke-Pickering.

The Memorandum of Understanding was signed by the CEO of Awanuiārangi, Distinguished Professor Graham Smith, on his recent visit to Canada. He said the MOU will “establish a relationship which includes staff and student exchange and research collaboration.”

“Awanuiārangi is interested in developing international indigenous relationships. We want to consolidate the benchmarking of our programmes and establish an international peer review process. This issue is about maintaining the quality of our programming here,” Dr Smith said.

“It is important to develop these relationships as it provides an opportunity to grow our expertise by engaging with other like-minded academics and scholars. We see mutual benefit for ourselves and the institutions we are engaging with, in this case, one of the top universities in Canada.”

Dr Sheila Cote-Meek is of the Teme-Augama Anishinabe people and is Laurentian University’s first Associate Vice President Indigenous programs. She said the MOU was quite broad so there were many possibilities such as staff and student engagement, curriculum exchange and research partnerships and accessing research funding.

Dr Cote-Meek said there are many similarities between Māori and First Nation people and our experience with being colonized. She jokingly said there was however one difference; “you sing, we drum.” One other difference she highlighted was that First Nation had been colonized for over 500 years and could help Māori, in particular the healing programs that have been developed.

To further cement the relationship both Dr Moeke-Pickering and Dr Cote-Meek were named as adjunct professors of Awanuiārangi. This means the wananga will be able to call upon their expertise and for Dr Moeke-Pickering it will mean more frequent visits back home. She was brought up in Poroporo and went to school there and in Whakatane. Taima was the first Head of School of Te Toi-a-Kiwa School of Maori, Pasifika and Indigenous Studies at Wintec (Waikato Institute of Technology). She completed her PhD from Waikato University.


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