Pacific Staff And Students Of The Faculty Of Māori And Indigenous Studies, University Of Waikato
(Note from Scoop: The byline of this release has been amended by request of the University of Waikato to dispel notions that this was an officially-approved message.)
We, the Pacific students and staff within the Faculty of Māori and Indigenous Studies, stand against casual and institutional racism at the University of Waikato. We stand in support of our esteemed Māori mentors, colleagues and aiga whose tenures are presently threatened.
We recognise that the refusal to renew their tenures is a systematic discrediting and undermining of world leading Indigenous leadership, expertise, research, and teaching excellence.
We see the lack of recognition of tangata whenua leadership in key partnership roles and the removal of leading Indigenous practitioners of Te Ao Māori and Indigenous research and teaching practices as a clear breach of Treaty of Waitangi principles. This breach directly compromises the advancement of Pacific and Indigenous knowledge and practices at the University of Waikato. Further, this is a direct threat to the present Pacific academic staff and students at the Faculty of Māori and Indigenous Studies, and all others contemplating future study at the University of Waikato.
We stand in support as Pacific and Indigenous people of the Moana.
Indigenous Pacific practices acknowledge our role as manuhiri on this whenua. We look to protect the mana of tangata whenua through our own recognition of Le Va tapuai or sacred spaces. We know that when Indigenous to Indigenous encounters are facilitated and mediated by colonial overlords, they often result in the painful denial of our fa’alupega, fa’asinomaga and patronizing celebration of ‘first in family’. This ignores the contributions of many who have come before us who envisioned and fought for better futures.
A key factor in Pacific student and staff success is our communal strength; this is fundamentally tied to relationships and sacred spaces that are built and nurtured with and through all the complexities of our beings. Pacific staff and students are instrumental in providing these rich and vibrant learning environments, not only through our teaching practices but also through our burgeoning research capabilities. The reciprocal nature of Le Va tapuia has forged a way forward for us and at Waikato this has been facilitated by exciting, innovative, and robust academic collaboration with leading Māori Indigenous practitioners and thinkers at the Faculty of Māori and Indigenous Studies.
We stand in support as Pacific and Indigenous Staff and Students of Te Pua Wānanga ki te Ao - The Faculty of Māori and Indigenous Studies at the Waikato University.
At present, Pacific people make up fewer than 1% of Waikato University academic staff. Under the present Faculty of Māori and Indigenous Studies leadership, the Pacific & Indigenous Studies subject was launched in 2017; and we celebrated our first undergraduate in this major in December 2019. In 2020, the Faculty has rolled out postgraduate qualifications in Pacific and Indigenous Studies and is the only place in the university where Pacific students can learn Pacific content from permanently appointed Pacific teachers.
This indicates the commitment this Faculty leadership has put in place to advance Pacific teaching and research.
The Faculty of Māori and Indigenous Studies has provided a much-needed home for students from across the Moana. The Faculty has actively recruited Pacific staff and students, as well as graduates and staff members who are undervalued in their own respective academic and service units at the University of Waikato, to:
- contribute to the Faculty’s Pacific and Indigenous Studies programme as tutors and lecturers,
- safeguard Pacific and Indigenous knowledges through the forging of research partnerships and collaborations across university disciplines on Pacific subjects,
- advocate for Pacific student involvement in research projects,
- and provide Pacific students a vibrant space conducive to research and teaching excellence.
We acknowledge the hard-fought gains often led by our Māori colleagues to support the place of Pacific curriculum, research, staff, and students, within the Faculty of Māori and Indigenous Studies.
We support calls for the University of Waikato Council to reject and eliminate structural and casual racism that threatens the important, innovative, forward-looking work that Māori and Pacific students and staff at the University of Waikato, not just for our own communities but for all of society.
For the above reasons, we stand in solidarity with our esteemed Māori mentors, teachers, and colleagues