“We are taking a strengths-based approach. So that teachers can go from where they are now to where they want to be.” AS EVERY CHILD knows, learning to read means first cracking a code. The next challenge is reading to learn – when you move from just identifying the words to extracting deeper comprehension.
At Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga we now manage a database of well over 500 Māori scholars. Twenty five ago years ago Māori academics were so few we’d have had no need for the resource. As for Māori PhDs, with a national total of around 20, some academics would have been realistically able to name them all.
It never pays to underestimate the power of determination. When Patricia (Trish) Johnston (Ngaiterangi, Ngāti Pikiao) arrived to take up the position as Professor of Postgraduate Studies and Research at Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi she asked about basic research at the Wānanga and was told by one staff member it was something they didn’t do.
A few sleepless nights may well have been all to the good for Sarah-Jane Paine. She successfully completed her doctorate in 2006 on key factors affecting sleep and how they might be affected by ethnicity and socio-economic factors – and in the process became one of 500 new Māori PhDs last year. In a paper published in the international Journal of Biological Rhythms, Sarah-Jane, who is from Tūhoe iwi, saw a prevalence of both “morning people” and ”night owls” in New Zealand.
PhDs are the backbone of any research community. Yet for the first hundred years or so of universities in New Zealand the number of Māori doctorates could have been counted on not too many hands. This might make the target Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga set in 2002 of contributing to 500 new Māori PhDs in five years only look the more unrealistic. But it is a welcome measure of change, and of a lot of hard work, that Emeritus Professor Leslie R Tumoana Williams, the Centre’s Capability Building Manager, says that target is well on the way to being achieved.