Maori research centre funding cut

DEENA COSTER
Last updated 05:00 21/03/2014

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A decision to stop funding a Maori research centre has left one Waitara-born academic concerned about the future of her profession.

Auckland's Nga Pae o te Maramatanga has not been shortlisted for money administered by the Government-funded Centre of Research Excellence.

If alternative funding is not found, it will close in 2015.

Dr Leonie Pihama, of Te Atiawa, Nga Mahanga a Tairi and Ngati Mahanga descent, said the decision came as a complete surprise.

"It's been a shock," she said.

The centre's potential closure puts at risk many of the programmes and initiatives it had helped to establish over the past decade, including scholarship programmes and mentoring for Maori PhD students.

It is also the only research centre in New Zealand that focuses on kaupapa Maori methodologies and tikanga-based research practice.

Dr Pihama, director of Te Kotahi Research Institute at the University of Waikato, said the potential closure, coupled with the lack of Maori input into the development of New Zealand's 10 national science challenges meant many Maori researchers felt left out.

"What we are seeing is a retrenchment back to the mainstream model of the 1960s," she said.

She said the effect of Nga Pae o Te Maramatanga's possible shutdown would be felt nationwide, including in Taranaki, where organisations like Tu Tama Wahine and Te Reo o Taranaki had benefited from support it had provided them.

Dr Pihama, along with other high-profile academics Professor Charles Royal, Sir Tipene O'Regan and Sir Mason Durie facilitated a meeting in Auckland yesterday to discuss the role of Maori research in New Zealand.

Nga Pae o te Maramatanga currently supports 16 Maori research institutes across the country, as well as more than 100 Maori researchers working in a variety of fields.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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