Honour for leading Māori researcher

23 November 2016

Jenny Lee-Morgan

Associate Professor Jenny Lee-Morgan, award-winning researcher and Deputy Director of Te Kotahi Research Institute.

Associate Professor Jenny Lee-Morgan from the University of Waikato is this year’s recipient of the NZARE Te Tohu Pae Tawhiti award for significant contribution to Māori education.

Dr Lee-Morgan is the Deputy Director of the Te Kotahi Research Institute (TKRI) at Waikato.

The award recognises high-quality research over an extended period and comprises a written citation, a taonga and a cash prize of $1500.

Dr Lee-Morgan affilates to Waikato, Ngāti Māhuta, and is also of Zhong Shan and Taishan Chinese ancestry. She says receiving the award is a great honour. “I need to thank my colleagues in Māori education, in particular, kaupapa Māori researchers for their support and mentorship. Transformative research that makes a difference to the way we think, what we do, and how we feel, remains critical for Māori communities."

Before coming to TKRI in July this year, Dr Lee-Morgan was working at the University of Auckland as Head of School of Te Puna Wānanga (Māori Education), where she also completed her masters and doctorate after completing three qualifications at Waikato University. Her Doctor of Education focussed on ako (Māori pedagogy) through the pūrākau (storytelling) of Māori secondary school teachers.

Her research has included marae-ā-kura (school marae), Māori-medium teacher education, and Māori pedagogy – all of which concerns improving Māori learner and whānau experiences and outcomes in education across the sector.  

More recently, Dr Lee-Morgan has been investigating pūrākau as a Kaupapa Māori narrative inquiry approach.

In academic circles Dr Lee-Morgan may be better known as Jenny Bol Jun Lee, and author of the book Jade Taniwha which was based on her masters research that looked at Māori-Chinese identity and schooling in Aotearoa.

This is the second year in a row that a Waikato University academic has won NZARE’s Te Tohu Pae Tawhiti award. Associate Professor Leonie Pihama, Director of TKRI won it last year and since the award began in 1998 four Waikato academics have won it.

Dr Lee-Morgan says she likes the kaupapa Māori approach at TKRI where academics are working for transformative outcomes for whānau, hapū, iwi and community, work she says is challenging, but meaningful.  “TKRI are in a new phase of development, having recently secured some sizeable research grants for some major projects, and I’m pleased to be part of capacity building, and look forward to what will be achieved,” she says.