Transformation through Indigenous Research Excellence
From its inception, the foundational purpose of Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga (NPM) was to conduct excellent research of relevance to Māori peoples; research which brings about benefit and positive change. Our initial vision concerned the transformation of New Zealand society such that Māori participate fully in all aspects of society and the economy.
In order to achieve this, in our first years we invested heavily in the creation of a critical mass of Māori researchers and the establishment of an environment for Māori-relevant research. Our vision was to transform society so that Māori may achieve full participation.
In 2010, we continued and deepened this focus by exploring the nature, value and benefit of Māori participation in our society and economy. Hence, our vision at that point was to unleash the creative potential of Māori peoples to bring about positive change and transformation in the world.
In 2016 we adjusted our focus once again, and through to 2020 the vision of NPM is 'Māori leading New Zealand into the future'. Our research will realise Māori aspirations for positive engagement in national life, enhancing our excellence in Indigenous scholarship and providing solutions to major challenges facing humanity in local and global settings.
We remain concerned with increasing the participation and success of Māori people training in and conducting research. However, we supplement this by asking what might the contribution of Māori peoples be to arenas such as new knowledge, economic development, environmental sustainability, health and social wellbeing and educational achievement? Our interests fall on unleashing the creative potential of Māori peoples: individuals, communities, institutions and organisations. We seek to understand this creative potential and to apply it to solve critical issues and to yield important opportunities. Our research addresses two critical concerns:
- Creative Opportunities arising in Māori peoples; such as those represented by the new organisations and assets established through the settlement of Treaty claims and the creative potential of mātauranga Māori/indigenous knowledge
- Needs, problems and issues arising in Māori peoples; such as health disparities, educational underachievement, imprisonment rates, violence and more
We position our research so that it may contribute to new knowledge, economic development, environmental sustainability, health and social wellbeing, and educational achievement. In addressing these critical concerns, we enlist the creative potential and the actual contribution of Māori peoples to assist us in our research and ultimately in achieving the positive change envisioned.
Importantly, the nature, value and benefit of full Māori participation in society and in the economy arises not merely through Māori participation in pre-existing activities – for Māori peoples bring a whole host of distinctive creativity to our nation.
Māori peoples bring a whole host of distinctive creativity to our nation. Institutions such as kōhanga reo through to whare wānanga have been established; Māori businesses of many kinds are active; Māori broadcasting avenues are in operation; and cultural creativity, for example tā moko, taonga pūoro, rūnanga, is in full swing.
We suggest that what underpins this are notions of indigeneity: a dynamic, mutually enhancing and kinship-based relationship with the natural world. While not all are conscious of these dimensions, we propose this comes from a traditional and indigenous worldview. Furthermore, many Māori wish the traditional worldview, values and behaviours could find expression in our contemporary culture.
It is important to note that indigeneity is international. While there is great diversity among indigenous peoples, a common concern for a kinship-based relationship with natural environments is a distinguishing feature. Many indigenous peoples are undertaking journeys similar to Māori peoples in terms of:
- Addressing needs, solving problems, achieving social justice
- Rediscovering their own creative centre, leading to cultural revitalisation and creativity and contributions to the world
- A renewed concern for our traditional worldviews and relationships with natural environments.
Finally, we suggest that indigeneity holds value beyond indigenous communities. The issue of humankind’s relationship with the natural world is a critical worldwide concern. Indigeneity may be a significant response to this universal concern, as it positions human activities with a renewed sensitivity and relationship with natural environments.
Indigenous transformation therefore means:
- Resolution of needs, problems and issues arising in Māori peoples
- Understanding and unleashing creative opportunities within Māori peoples
- Building relationships with other indigenous communities so as to achieve these goals
- Fostering indigeneity worldwide.