Māori Academic Socialisation and the University

Despite the proliferation of equity and diversity plans and policies that have been established in universities across New Zealand over the past 25 years, Māori academic staff make up only a very small proportion of the nation’s academic workforce (6%) and the proportion of Pacific academic staff is even smaller (2%).

This study explored the ways that Māori and Pacific senior scholars became academics; how they shape their interactions and relationships with their institutions of higher learning; how they engage with their disciplines; and, how they transform academic knowledge in ways that support and sustain their cultural and tribal communities as well as contribute to national development. The project also investigates the institutional challenges experienced by Māori and Pacific faculty who work within universities and Wānanga.

Over a two-year period, the investigators conducted a qualitative, ethnographic study that included 43 participants (comprising 29 Māori participants and 14 Pacific participants) who were senior academics (i.e. senior lecturer, Associate Professor, Professor) based in a range of disciplines in the sciences, humanities, social sciences and professional and applied disciplines. The participants were located in nine PhD-granting tertiary institutions in New Zealand; a small amount of comparative data were collected from senior scholars in two universities in the Pacific region.

The project's full research report can be downloaded (see below).  The discussion and analysis sections of the report are framed around the question: Ko wai, no hea tātou? – Who are Māori academics? In the report the authors (study investigators) are able to make a number of observations about the senior scholars who were involved in this study. 

About the researchers and authors:

Joanna Kidman has affiliations with Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāti Toa. She is a principal investigator for this study and conducted fieldwork with the Māori participants. Joanna is a Māori sociologist working in the field of indigenous education at Te Kura Māori in the Faculty of Education, Victoria University of Wellington. Her research centres on the politics of education, particularly as it affects Māori and other indigenous youth. Over the past twenty years, she has worked with Māori research partners and community-based tribal groups in different parts of New Zealand. She has also partnered with indigenous communities in Taiwan and the USA to establish indigenous knowledge systems in schools with large numbers of native students.

Cherie Chu is a principal investigator for this study and conducted fieldwork with the Pacific participants. Cherie is of Tahitian and Chinese descent and is based in the School of Education at Victoria University of Wellington. Her research in the domain of Pacific education focuses on mentoring and leadership for Pacific students and scholars in the tertiary education sector. She has partnered with Pacific communities in educational contexts in New Zealand and the Pacific and is a founding member of the Rethinking Pacific Education Initiative for and by Pacific Peoples (RPEIPP), an organization committed to establishing educational initiatives that are conceived, developed and run by the Pacific communities that host them.

Sean Fernandez is affiliated with Ngāpuhi. He is based in Te Kura Māori in the Faculty of Education at Victoria University of Wellington. He has recently submitted his PhD in the area of development education and leadership in the Pacific.

Ivy Abella is from the Philippines and is based in the School of Education at Victoria University of Wellington. She is currently completing her PhD on the pedagogical innovations of indigenous teachers in the Philippines and the Pacific.

Project commenced:

Research Lead(s) and Team

Ngāti Maniapoto Ngati Whakatere

Joanna is a sociologist with affiliations to Ngāti Maniapoto and Ngāti Raukawa. Her work spans indigenous sociology, Māori youth, higher education, decolonization studies and comparative education. She is especially interested in the interplay of power relations between different groups of people.

Joanna is working on two Marsden projects: He Taonga te Wareware: Remembering and Forgetting New Zealand’s Colonial Past investigates how New Zealanders selectively remember and forget difficult and violent events from our colonial past; and

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