Promising Futures Te Kawau Mārō: The Lifeworlds of highly qualified Māori - a cohort study of Māori PhD students and graduates


The teaching and development of a vibrant, dynamic, highly educated and sustainable Māori workforce operatingat the highest levels of tribal and government leadership and civic society, is crucial to driving positive economic, social and environmental transformation in Aotearoa. Current and future generations of Māori PhD students and graduates, Māori scholars and researchers, are needed to undertake excellent and transformative research, run research organisations and be change makers within their communities and New Zealand society more broadly.

Despite the need for Māori PhD graduates and academics in academic tribal and civil society, Māori are underrepresented within the academic workforce in New Zealand.1 Few secure long-term employment in universities where future generations of Māori are educated. Māori academics are critical for Māori students to achieve educational success as Māori, developing and delivering programmes that are culturally inclusive and provide opportunities to engage with Te Ao Māori including learnings around Te Reo, Tikanga and Mātauranga. The provision of Government tertiary education policy to date has focused on improving post-school transitions and Māori achievement at bachelor levels or above. Much less work has focused on enhancing Māori success at advanced degree levels or post-PhD within academia.

This project will enhance current understandings of the experiences, challenges and opportunities experienced by Māori PhD graduates, in particular, their employment and life trajectories post-graduation. The project will also examine and scope the intellectual, cultural, economic and social contribution they make to whānau, hapū, iwi and civil society nationally and internationally. In doing this we aim to build upon the work and legacy of nearly 800 Māori who have graduated with PhDs in the past 20 years. To that end, the project will work closely with the Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga Te Kupenga o MAI programme.

The overall goal of this study is to provide an evidential basis for new conversations and models about the role of highly qualified Māori in the labour-force. The project will contribute towards strategies to address current shortages of highly qualified Māori experts operating in leadership roles in academia, iwi, government, and civil society.

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

Research Associate Professor Reremoana (Moana) Theodore is the Co-Director of the National Centre for Lifecourse Research (NCLR), and a member of the Royal Society Te Apārangi Council. Moana is an inaugural HRC Māori Health Research Emerging Leader Fellow. She is an Investigator on the Graduate Longitudinal Study NZ (GLSNZ) and Te Kura Mai i Tawhiti – a Māori community research programme.

Te Rarawa Ngāpuhi
Emerging Researchers' Leader

Dr Hinekura Smith (Te Rarawa, Ngāpuhi) is NPM's Emerging Researchers’ Leader, providing further national leadership and coordination of MAI Te Kupenga and developing and nurturing initiatives that contribute to the outcomes and objectives of NPM’s Capability and Capacity Strategy.