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UC academic wins national Māori education award

UC academic wins national Māori education award

A University of Canterbury (UC) academic has been recognised for her contributions to Māori education, becoming the 2017 recipient of the Te Tohu Pae Tawhiti Award.

The award was presented to Associate Professor Sonja Macfarlane (Ngāti Waewae, Ngāi Tahu) at the annual New Zealand Association for Research in Education (NZARE) conference in Hamilton.

Assoc Prof Macfarlane works as a Senior Research Fellow on the National Science Challenge (NSC), A Better Start: E Tipu e Rea, in the School of Health Sciences in the UC College of Education, Health and Human Development. She has made major original contributions at national and international levels to Māori and Indigenous education, inclusive education, special education and whānau-orientated research.

UC College of Education, Health and Human Development Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor Gail Gillon, who is co-director of A Better Start: E Tipu e Rea, has congratulated Assoc Prof Macfarlane on her award.

“This award is a very well deserved recognition of Assoc Prof Macfarlane’s numerous contributions to advancing kaupapa Māori research and her contributions to interdisciplinary research. Her research over many years has focused on advancing Māori aspirations for our tamariki’s education success and healthy wellbeing,” Prof Gillon says.

“The Better Start National Science Challenge has a strong focus on Vision Mātauranga – a policy focused on realising Māori potential. It’s wonderful that NZARE have recognised Sonia’s research contributions to research which will continue to benefit New Zealanders through her on-going work in the Better Start Science Challenge. ”

Assoc Prof Macfarlane is currently leading research focused on engaging whānau in research projects related to advancing children’s language and early literacy development. Her research has helped to improve policy development and service provision for Māori in the education, psychology, counselling and health fields. A seminal unit of study has been the creation of a framework for practitioners working with Māori tamariki and their whānau, Te Pikinga ki Runga (2009). This framework has encouraged and facilitated the cultural responsiveness of schools and health services in their quest to address the needs of Māori learners experiencing challenges in reaching their potential.

At UC, she is also co-director of Te Rū Rangahau; the Māori Research Laboratory, a research hub that supports and encourages Māori and non-Māori researchers to engage in Māori and Indigenous research. In 2016, Associate Professor Macfarlane was a co-recipient of the NZARE Research Team Award, which acknowledged the research excellence of Te Rū Rangahau.

Assoc Prof Macfarlane teaches into a wide range of university courses, including education, psychology, counselling, Indigenous research, and health, and provides professional development to school clusters and communities of learning nationally. She is currently an advisory member on four high-level governmental initiatives.

Her nominator for the 2017 Te Tohu Pae Tawhiti award, Adjunct Professor Wally Penetito, described her as someone who has given much to many others in the field of Māori research.

“Associate Professor Macfarlane has produced an outstanding quantum of research and involvement in the education sector over many years. Her work at the University of Canterbury is characterised by impressive projects, collaborations, esteem and outputs.”

The NZARE Te Tohu Pae Tawhiti award, which recognises researchers who have made a significant contribution to Māori education, comprises a written citation and a taonga (treasure box) in the form of an elaborately carved waka huia.


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