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Ngāi Tahu Research Centre Appoints Its First Professor

The Ngāi Tahu Research Centre has appointed its first Professor, Dr Shaun Ogilvie, Te Arawa (Ngāti Whakahemo), Ngāti Awa (Ngāti Pūkeko) and Pākehā, as Professor of Ecology and the Environment, a co-appointment with the College of Science, at the University of Canterbury.

“Professor Ogilvie has a solid academic background and a well-established publication record. He understands mātauranga Māori and where the needs of the Māori community can be met through the sciences and research,” says the Director of the Ngāi Tahu Research Centre and Ūpoko of Ngāi Tūāhuriri, Associate Professor Te Maire Tau.

“Our students and iwi need scientists who understand what mahinga kai means and that the knowledge we have built up throughout our generations is equally understood and scrutinised within the sciences. We need to keep building new knowledge and ways of engaging with the natural world for the benefit of Ngāi Tahu and the South Island.

“Shaun has spent considerable time with my father and elders within the tribe as well as the wider community of iwi leaders such as Sir Mason Durie and Dr Rose Pere. It’s a good appointment and we look forward to producing more Māori students within the sciences.”

Professor Ogilvie graduated with a PhD in Ecology from the University of Canterbury in 2000, and since then has held numerous academic and research roles. He is the Director of Eco Research Associates Ltd, an environmental research company, and sits on numerous committees and boards. Professor Ogilvie featured in a recent book profiling 24 Māori academics, Ngā Kete Mātauranga. The University of Canterbury’s Head of Aotahi School of Māori and Indigenous Studies, Sacha McMeeking (Ngāi Tahu) also featured in the book.

Professor Ogilvie – formerly an Adjunct Associate Professor of the University – has recently been appointed as the Kaihautū Ngātahi | Co-Director Māori of the National Science Challenge Biological Heritage, a role he will bring to the University of Canterbury.a

The appointment of Professor Ogilvie is part of a commitment to grow and attract senior Māori academics to the University of Canterbury, which Ngāi Tūāhuriri have supported through the Ngāi Tahu Research Centre. In 2019, Ngāi Tūāhuriri and the University of Canterbury reconfirmed their Treaty relationship originally signed off by the previous Ūpoko, H.R. Tau, in 2001.

Ūpoko Associate Professor Tau says this, the first of five professorial positions, is a commitment towards what a Treaty relationship is meant to be.

“The purpose of a university is to produce new knowledge through research and to then ensure that knowledge is distributed to students and eventually the community to engage with and to hopefully implement. Ngāi Tahu are of the view that research should be focused on the environmental and health sciences, institutional economics, law and history,” Associate Professor Tau says.

“Equity within the University is quite simple. Knowledge needs to be seen as a capital asset to which our people have equal access and academic leadership provides a route for our students to gain access to new knowledge and to contribute to new knowledge”.

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