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Massey University Sets New Standard For Te Tiriti Excellence

This Waitangi Day, Te Kunenga ki Pūrehuroa Massey University is celebrating the launch of an extensive project setting a new standard of excellence in Te Tiriti o Waitangi analysis, practice and implementation initiatives across all areas of the university.

The Kaiārahi Tiriti (Tiriti Mentors) Project consists of 45 staff members from across both academic and professional areas of the university who have undergone an intensive training and induction programme since the second half of 2022. The Kaiārahi Tiriti will now begin working one day a week on Te Tiriti-based initiatives tailored to the specific needs and aspirations of their academic discipline and professional service areas.

Vice Chancellor Professor Jan Thomas says centering Te Tiriti o Waitangi within the work of the university is critical to achieving more inclusive, progressive outcomes for society.

“Whilst Te Tiriti o Waitangi may be a common feature of institutional strategies nationwide, giving effect to Te Tiriti in real, meaningful ways is another matter. The establishment of the Kaiārahi Tiriti roles represents part of our broader commitment to providing staff and students with a teaching, learning and research environment that honours Te Tiriti in significant, practical ways, for the benefit of all,” Professor Thomas says.

Te Tiriti course curriculum development, support in research and academic scholarship, professional development for staff, and the creation of discipline and profession-specific teaching and learning resources are some of the initiatives the Kaiārahi Tiriti have planned for 2023.

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Deputy Vice Chancellor Māori Professor Meihana Durie, (Rangitāne, Ngāti Kauwhata, Ngāti Raukawa Te Au ki Te Tonga, Ngāti Porou, Rongowhakaata, Ngāi Tahu) whose Office is overseeing the project, believes the approach taken with the Kaiārahi Tiriti initiative reflects a new innovation in Te Tiriti o Waitangi education that has also created a high sense of optimism and excitement for the future.

“The leadership to be provided by our Kaiārahi comes through a collective impact model represented by a critical mass of Kaiārahi Tiriti who are well supported and resourced to lead out and implement the learning outcomes of the project across their specific areas of work.

“The ability for all of our Kaiārahi to now tailor Te Tiriti planning and programmes of work to each area of the university will lead to transformative impacts,” Professor Durie adds.

“While there is some overlap, current Te Tiriti practices differ across disciplines, for example in Science, Business, or Creative Arts. Each has its own history, dynamics and areas for development. Through the work of the Kaiārahi, our staff and students will not only become knowledgeable in current Te Tiriti practice, but will be well positioned to lead further Te Tiriti-based developments into the future. Graduates of our university will also benefit from this work in ways that are reflected as a part of their experience at Massey,” he says.

Alongside the many Māori staff participating in the Kaiārahi Tiriti programme, there are also Pākehā, Pacific, and Tauiwi (new migrant) staff who have been welcomed into these roles.

Pūkenga Tiriti Associate Professor Veronica Tawhai (Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Uepohatu) who is leading the Kaiārahi Project, argues this is important to ensure Te Tiriti responsibilities are not carried by Māori alone.

“Māori must always be at the forefront of decisions regarding tino rangatiratanga [Māori self-determination] and taonga [Māori treasures], however non-Māori also have an important role supporting Māori leadership in these matters, as well as advancing a greater understanding of Te Tiriti amongst others and contributing to how we can work together towards greater equality in outcomes for all students,” Dr Tawhai says.

The university looks forwards to sharing the outcomes of the first year of the Kaiārahi Tiriti Project in its 2023 Annual Report.

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