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Te Arawa FoMA initiates concept of Maori Research Institute

6 September 2011

Te Arawa FoMA initiates the concept of Maori Research Institute

The concept of a Maori Research Institute was initiated by the Te Arawa Branch of the Federation of Maori Authorities (FoMA) on 1 September 2011 in Rotorua. The Institute will play vital roles in creating opportunities for Maori to become interested and be part of the sciences and innovations projects so vital in the future development of Maori lands and business.

The Maori research institute intends to work closely with different crown research institutes, universities, polytechnics, schools, Maori trusts and incorporations, and relevant government departments and agencies, local and regional councils, and those supportive of the clean and green Aotearoa New Zealand initiatives.

Included in the aims of Maori research institute are:
• to provide opportunities for young Maori to get interested in science and technology for promoting sustainable management of the environment;
• to actively support research on productivity with equal concern for environmental issues associated with primary production systems; and
• to provide practical solutions for Maori land owners based on this research.

Maori research institute is envisaged to have a number of divisions, including sustainable farming and forestry. It is important that proper scientific research is carried out for the benefit of Maori community by involving members of Maori community in the research teams. This may become an important part of the Marae based initiative.

“One of the most important tasks is to promote the research and study of environmental sustainability by encouraging post-graduate students, especially from within the Maori community,” said Mr Malcolm Short, Chairperson of Te Arawa FoMA, and also a co Director of Maori Research Institute.

“The research institute will run courses, workshops and seminars for professional development of Maori farmers on sustainable farming and forestry, so as to increase the understanding of soil, plant and animal as a natural and sustainable resource,” added Mr Short.

The research institute also aims to organise national conferences, and publish conference proceedings, on various topics that are beneficial to communities in general, with focus being on members of the FoMA. The research institute also aims to provide expert guidance and consultancy to various farmers and Maori owned land trusts related to sustainable farming.

Mr Tom Walters said the aim is to make Maori research institute not only a centre of excellence but also a centre of attraction. Mr Walters is co Director of the research institute.

“Maori generally desire to hand the lands on to our children in their natural healthy soil state.”
“We will develop strong links with industry and other science providers to provide mechanisms for information transfer to Marae and Trust based organisations across all sectors from primary production to identifying clean energy project opportunities,” Mr Walters added.

To provide science and research support, Te Arawa FoMA has appointed Dr Guna Magesan as its senior resident scientist. His primary role is to liaise between science communities, regulatory authorities and the Maori community farmers and business entities.

“I have always felt very close to Maori and have been working with them for the past 15 years from a community perspective. If Maori community develops, New Zealand as a nation develops. With so much land coming back to rightful owners, it is time that Maori community is engaged in decision making process, including decisions related to scientific research and funding,” said Dr Magesan.

Dr Magesan said that he was interested in applied research that had a real impact on a community level rather than existing as an individual scientist earning a living.

With the expected signing of a Free Trade Agreement between New Zealand and India early next year, Maori businesses can look for a big opportunity with India. Dr Magesan said he looks forward to supporting Maori businesses to establish in India.


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