Last week, Nga Pae o Te Maramatanga, The National Institute of Research Excellence for Maori Development, lost its funding. For Maori researchers, this is a huge blow and raises questions regarding the disjuncture between political rhetoric for Maori development, education, equity and partnerships within Aotearoa New Zealand.
Nga Pae o Te Maramatanga has an incredible strategy and vision, and creates Maori and Indigenous scholar networks within and across all Aotearoa tertiary education providers. In the past decade, Nga Pae o Te Maramatanga has enabled a framework for Maori forms of knowledge to flourish both nationally, and internationally.
I am Maori PhD candidate who interrogates the ways that raranga, or the practice and conceptual underpinnings of traditional Maori weaving, can assist toward forms of self awareness, self acceptance and ultimately, self governance. For Maori, this is what we call tino rangatiratanga. Raranga just looks like old ladies sitting around making things out of grass, but that’s just the face of it. The process is ancient, and because it is so old, within the practice, my ancestors interwove our most fundamental knowledges. Raranga is relational and through its practice shows ways to enact enhanced connectivity to other people and our surroundings as linked aspects of a constantly evolving universe.
Raranga saved my life, so for me it is vitally important to interpret, translate and share its knowledge at a time when so many people in the world feel lost, hurt, confused and unheard.
It’s not particularly easy to convince a Western academy of learning how this constitutes high-level research. However, I have had incredible support for my research from Nga Pae o Te Maramatanga; through gathering with other Maori and Indigenous scholars, research writing workshops and avenues toward conference attendance and publication. Nga Pae o Te Maramatanga enables me to disseminate my creative research processes and findings, and to be uplifted by the research intent of other Maori and Indigenous scholars. It has given me the opportunity to see the vast extent of knowledge that is implanted within everyday people everywhere.
Nga Pae o Te Maramatanga has helped me to feel empowered as a Maori researcher, and as a result, to share knowledge that can empower others. Now that it has lost its funding, I wonder about how much more difficult my journey to share the simple, pragmatic, healing and incredibly logical knowledge left for us by my ancestors will be.
I wonder if governance structures really care about people being well today. They seem more concerned with keeping people demoralised, as a means to continue the consumption of our energy and resources toward capital gain for the few who actually benefit at the cost of all others.
The loss of funding for Nga Pae o Te Maramatanga; an Indigenous research institute with such incredible and obvious positive outputs, shows how effective governmental strategies to silence Indigenous voices can be. It makes me scared to witness how overt contemporary governance has become in it’s continuing colonising agenda.
The only thing that keeps my fear at bay, is that if there’s one thing about raranga as a form of research, it is that its threads are eternal.
Opening Statement from Te Wharepora Hou
Over the past week we have posted commentaries from Professor Linda Tuhiwai Smith about the decision to not continue the funding for Ngā Pae o Te Māramatanga, the National Māori Centre of Research Excellence. Our reason for supporting and utilising social media to share these commentaries is because we believe that Māori research, and in particular Kaupapa Māori research, has a critical role to play in Māori aspirations for wellbeing and development. Many research initiatives that have been led through those who spent endless hours of work and struggle to develop Ngā Pae and then through the many research, community, iwi and academic programmes that have come to fruition and been supported by the innovative approaches taken by Ngā Pae. This the third comment from Professor Smith comes in the form of providing ideas and reflection in…
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