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Designing An Inclusive Citizenship Model Guided By Te Tiriti O Waitangi

Rapidly growing ethnic communities are projected to be about 30% of the population of Aotearoa New Zealand by 2043. So, how can we engage with these communities to be part of a new pluralistic citizenship model? A trans-disciplinary research project is kicking off in the New Year, undertaken by three professors from the University of Waikato, intending to design an inclusive and holistic citizenship model guided by the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

University of Waikato Professors Debashish Munshi, Priya Kurian, and Sandy Morrison (Ngāti Whakaue, Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāti Rārua) will, over the course of a three-year research project, explore ways of practising democracy that embrace the diverse ethnic communities of Aotearoa New Zealand under an overarching commitment to Te Tiriti. The team have recently received a prestigious Marsden grant from the Royal Society Te Apārangi to support their endeavours.

Professor Kurian, a political scientist, says that despite ethnic communities being present in New Zealand for most of its history, they are often forgotten in policy discussions.

“Ethnic communities, whose backgrounds often also include histories of being colonised, and who have been in New Zealand from the late 18th century, have remained largely invisible in policy discussions,” she says.

Professor Munshi, who researches at the intersections of sustainability, social change, and citizenship, says the research will explore the rights and responsibilities of ethnic communities in upholding Te Tiriti and the obligations of the Crown to ethnic minorities under Te Tiriti.

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“Our project will examine how a Tiriti-centred, distinctly Aotearoa notion of ‘sustainable citizenship’ can offer a pathway to an inclusive and equitable society for all,” he says.

The project acknowledges Māori as tangata whenua and seeks to centre Te Tiriti in formulating a policy framework that goes beyond the usual discussions around biculturalism and multiculturalism. 

Te Tiriti expert Professor Morrison says that the project will be informed by kaupapa Māori principles of manaakitanga and whanaungatanga.

“Our aim is to design an inclusive and holistic model of citizenship that centres mātauranga and contributes to the hauora/oranga (health and wellbeing) of the nation,” she says.

The research project entitled “He Rau Ringa: Engaging ethnic communities in a Tiriti o Waitangi-centred framework of sustainable citizenship” will begin in February 2024.

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