Investigating prosperous indigenous groups

30 June 2017

Robert Joesph
Dr Robert Joseph (centre) with Candy Green from the US Embassy and Tertiary Minister Hon Paul Goldsmith.

University of Waikato senior law lecturer Dr Robert Joseph is heading to the US next month to study prosperous indigenous groups’ governance and their culture.

Dr Joseph (Tainui, Tūwharetoa, Ngāti Kahungunu, Rangitāne, Ngāi Tahu) researches indigenous law and is the recipient of a Fulbright-Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga Scholarship which will see him spend five months based at Harvard University, Boston and the University of Arizona, Tucson.

“I’ll be researching the governance of different indigenous tribal groups, the place of culture within indigenous tribes, their governance practices and how culture enhances economic performance and increases productivity,” he says.

Dr Joseph is no stranger to the US and Canada. He has visited several times and studied models of business and good governance in North America with First Nation tribes, where many of the challenges and issues are similar to Māori and where they are running billion dollar businesses, including casinos.

He says research out of Harvard University has shown that economically successful tribes in Canada and the US have a strong and vibrant culture.  “People take responsibility for their own decisions, have robust management systems, have good dispute resolution – indigenous mediation – and a strong governance and leadership structure that is culturally appropriate and agreed to by the tribe.”

Many tribes and groups trade with other indigenous groups, inter-tribally and internationally says Dr Joseph. “Many are resource- and cash-rich, and recently I visited a group that manufactured helicopters and weapons for the US military. I’m not advocating that approach for Māori, but there will be good opportunities to explore possibilities, for them and us.”

Dr Joseph also says indigenous groups in North America can also learn from Māori governance and Treaty experiences. “I have already spoken in the US about reconciliation, the things that we have learnt through direct negotiations and Treaty settlements and the good that can come from them.”

Dr Joseph leaves for the US in late July with his wife and five children.

The Fulbright programme offers a range of exchange awards for New Zealand and American graduate students, academics, artists and professionals to study, research, teach or present their work in each other’s countries. Dr Joseph says he has already noticed that being a Fulbright Scholar opens doors, helping him to make helpful contacts before he begins his scholarship proper.

Latest stories

Related stories

Scholarship recipient honours cherished former staff member

Third year Bachelor of Business and Bachelor of Science student, Petra Guy, is the inaugural…

Neil Quigley and Kelvyn Eglinton

University of Waikato Medical School funding backed by Momentum Waikato

Funding for a Graduate School of Medicine at the University of Waikato will be supported…

Scholarship supports two worthy women in technology

The inaugural Endace Women in Technology Scholarship has been awarded to two University of Waikato…

Inaugural scholarship recipient committed to furthering women in business

A new scholarship supporting more women to study business at the University of Waikato has…

Three generations of Dr Ritchies

Pioneering Psychology Professor leaves peaceful parenting legacy

The University of Waikato sadly acknowledges the passing of Emeritus Professor Jane Ritchie OBE, at…

Nathan Bailey, inaugural recipient of the Tauranga Moana Futures Scholarship

Scholarship enables inaugural recipient to contribute to the redevelopment of Tauranga City

University of Waikato first-year Bachelor of Engineering student Nathan Bailey is the inaugural recipient of…


Philanthropically-funded role enables Music to grow

Thanks to a philanthropically-funded position, internaitonal opera singer Madeleine Pierard has been able to set…

Scholarship recipient

Ashleigh Ngow receives Dr Andrew Smith Medal for Academic Excellence

Protecting the environment has always been important to Maketū-raised Ashleigh Ngow who completed the Bachelor…

Huy Vu

Scholarship established to remember alumnus and colleague Huy Vu

A scholarship has been established at the University of Waikato to remember alumnus and highly…

Madeleine Pierard

Inaugural recipients selected for Te Pae Kōkako

Six promising opera students have been selected for the University of Waikato’s immersive Master of…


Scholarship helps recipient spark change for the environment

A donor-funded Master of Management Studies project at the University is set to contribute to…


New scholarship for women studying business

Leading investment specialists Craigs Investment Partners (Craigs) is committing to the next generation of women…