Groundbreaking academics from the University of Waikato have been honored by the Royal Society Te Apārangi.
Four awards were presented to Waikato staff at the annual event held in Wellington last night. Three of them have been presented for the first time.
Professor Linda Tuhiwai Smith has received the inaugural Te Puāwaitangi Award in recognition of the eminent and distinctive contribution she has made to Te Ao Māori, and to Māori and Indigenous knowledge. Her citation highlights her trailblazing research in Indigenous methodologies and kaupapa Māori, which has contributed to the advancement of Māori research, education and society.
Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research, Professor Bruce Clarkson, says the award is fitting acknowledgement Professor Smith’s nationally and internationally recognised leadership in Maori and Indigenous Studies. “Her seminal publication Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples (1999) was ahead of its time and it is interesting that many of the National Science Challenges are only now grappling with the issues it raised. Several reprint editions were published before the most recent revised second edition in 2012. This work alone would have placed her at the top of her field but she has continued to provide exemplary leadership, tirelessly championing Indigenous research and scholarship, is a sought after keynote speaker at international conferences, and has supervised more than 10 PhD students to completion.”
Linda Tuhiwai Smith (Ngāti Awa and Ngāti Porou) is currently a Professor in Māori and Indigenous Studies and Senior Research Advisor to Te Kotahi Research Institute, University of Waikato. She has served as Dean of the School of Māori and Pacific Development and Pro Vice-Chancellor Māori at the University of Waikato.
She is a nationally and internationally recognised scholar whose ground breaking research in Indigenous methodologies and kaupapa Māori has contributed to the advancement of Māori research, education and society for nearly 40 years.
Her seminal publication Decolonising Methodologies, Research and Indigenous Peoples (1999) has changed the landscape for whānau, hapū, iwi, Māori and Indigenous peoples. This revolutionary text, first published almost 20 years ago, continues to resonate powerfully with Indigenous scholars and Indigenous communities globally. It is an extensive critique of Western paradigms of research and knowledge. In it Linda challenges traditional Western ways of knowing and researching and calls for the “decolonisation” of methodologies, and for a new agenda of Indigenous research, calling for “a more critical understanding of the underlying assumptions, motivations and values that inform research practices”. The second edition of Decolonising Methodologies was published in 2012 and continues to provide a platform from which Māori and Indigenous communities can reclaim traditional knowledge within the context of research. It is included in the Te Takarangi collection of Māori-authored books that Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga (NPM) and Royal Society Te Apārangi have compiled to celebrate the long history of Māori scholarship that exists in Aotearoa.
Linda has been at the forefront in advocating for Māori knowledge to be rightfully positioned and acknowledged as an academic discipline, embedding kaupapa Māori research into the University of Auckland education curriculum in the early 1990s. She established the Indigenous Research Institute and then was founding Co-Director of the Centre of Research Excellence, Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga, both based at the University of Auckland. During her time at the University of Auckland, Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga had the goal of having 500 Māori PhDs and, under Linda’s leadership and co-direction, this was achieved within five years.
Following her appointment as Pro Vice-Chancellor Māori at the University of Waikato in 2007, she established the Te Kotahi Research Institute to be a direct research interface between iwi and the university, and was also acting Dean of the School of Māori and Pacific Development.
Linda’s research is not confined to education but more broadly indigenous development. She has researched and published across a range of academic and research disciplines including Māori and indigenous education, research methods and methodologies, women in the academy, health, trauma, social justice, constitutional reform, mātauranga Māori and western science. She has also served on a broad range of Māori and National boards.
In making this award, the selection committee said that Linda has worked tirelessly for Māori and has been instrumental in the revitalisation of Kaupapa Māori education, theory and methodologies. “She has influenced generations of Māori and Indigenous scholars and is a leading figure in social services research nationally and globally.”
On receiving this award, Linda said: "I am very honoured to receive this award but I feel my work is still not done and can not be done without the engagement of academic and community colleagues and students who will take that work to places I have not imagined myself.
"Writing a book that simply sits on a shelf or articles that no one reads is the worst nightmare of a scholar and so I am very honoured and humbled that others here and internationally have found my ideas worth engaging with and building upon."
Linda was acknowledged for her services to Māori and education when she was made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2013. In 2017 she was made a life member of the New Zealand Association for Research in Education, which presented her with the McKenzie Award in 2015. In 2018 she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Winnipeg in Canada. She was invited to give the Presidential Address at the 2018 American Educational Research Association conference in New York, having been made a Fellow of this organisation in 2014. In 2017 she received the Prime Minister’s Lifetime Achievement in Education Award and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand in 2016. She received the Royal Society Te Apārangi Dame Joan Metge Medal for excellence in research and capacity building in social science in 2012.
Dr Mohi Rua has received the Te Kōpūnui Māori Research Award for his innovative research on poverty, homelessness and Māori men's health which is challenging the relevance of mainstream Anglo-American psychology for Maōri and other indigenous peoples. This is another new award, and recognises innovative Māori research by promising early career researchers.
Dr Mohi Rua (Ngai Tūhoe, Ngāti Awa and Ngāti Whakaue) is the Co-Director of the Māori and Psychology Research Unit and a Senior Lecturer in the School of Psychology at the University of Waikato. The Maori & Psychology Research Unit (MPRU) is a research and teaching entity that acts as a catalyst and support network for research concerning the psychological needs, aspirations and priorities of Māori. A registered psychologist, Mohi's research focuses on understanding and addressing issues of poverty, homelessness and health inequities and their impacts on Māori more broadly.
His PhD thesis (2015), as well as his Nga Pae o te Maramatanga funded research (2012-2014) with Māori men, has brought a much needed critical lens to a research field that has otherwise positioned Māori men as a 'problem to be solved'. Mohi's research clearly shows that there is much more to the lives of Māori men than the crude and negative colonial constructions of Māori men in the media and social science research.
Working alongside Māori men, Mohi has shown that their self-conceptualisations are compatible with being carers, nurturers and positive contributors to their communities. Far from being emotionally detached from their loved ones or engaged in violent behaviour, the Māori men in Mohi's studies are constantly engaged in practices of whanaungatanga (sense of relational connectedness) with whānau, friends, work colleagues and communities. They have personal agency in their capacity to articulate and present a more complex and humane version of themselves whilst challenging the pernicious stereotypes of them routinely portrayed in the media and academic literature.
The award selection committee noted that his scholarly and cultural knowledge of Māori urbanisation as well as his extensive community networks allow him to theorise and investigate societal and psychological issues through 'engaged community scholarship' as well as devising effective responses to these issues.
On receiving this award Mohi said: “When I was told I’d received the award I thought they’d got it wrong. ‘Not me surely. I’m just a Māori boy from Kawerau and Ruatoki.’ But I’m very grateful and honoured, and, obviously, this recognition isn’t mine alone. It belongs to the countless number of people who’ve assisted and guided my personal and professional development. Too many to name but they know who they are and I’m forever in their debt. Hopefully I can continue to do them proud.”
Mohi has gained research grants from the Marsden Fund, the Health Research Council of New Zealand and has been appointed as the Mauri Ora theme co-leader for Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga. He is the Principal Investigator on the Ngā Pae o Te Māramatanga funded 'Connections and Flows: Precarious Māori Households in Austere Times' (2016-2019) and an Associate Investigator on the National Science Challenge funded 'Te Manaaki o te Marae: the Role of Marae in the Tamaki Makaurau Housing Crisis' (2017-2019). He was a researcher on the award-winning book Mau Moko – the World of Māori Tatoo (Te Awekotuku and Nikora, 2007) and associated Marsden Fund project. His PhD, completed in 2015, was titled Māori men's positive and interconnected sense of self, being and place.
Mohi has been invited to present his work at various hui and international conferences as well as having being invited to join the editorial board of a leading international journal in indigenous studies (ab-Original: Journal of Indigenous Studies and First Nations and First Peoples' Cultures). He is also a peer reviewer for national and international journals.
Associate Professor Holly Thorpe has received the Early Career Research Excellence Award for Social Sciences for her research on the sociology of sport that is redefining the use of sports for development and peace in conflict and disaster zones.
Based at the University of Waikato, Associate Professor Thorpe's research interest is the sociology of sport with a focus on three threads: women in sport, action sports, and sport for development and peace building. She has sought to understand the changing opportunities and challenges for women in sport and physical culture, the role of action sport in women's lives, and how action sports interact with youth culture in conflict and disaster zones.
Holly's initial research was at the nexus of feminism and female engagement in action sports – starting with snowboarding and expanding to broader physical and youth culture. She then expanded her research to address the incorporation of action sports in traditional movements such as the Olympic Games and sports for development.
Holly’s work on the growth of action sports or 'extreme sports' in conflict and disaster zones around the world led her to coin the term 'Action Sports for Development and Peace Building' (ASDP) in 2014. She was the first scholar to critically examine the growth of action sports programmes across the developed and developing world.
As Kofi Annan said as founder of the United Nations Office on Sport for Development and Peace, “Sports have an almost unmatched role to play in promoting understanding, healing wounds, mobilising support for social causes and breaking down barriers.” However, Sport for Development and Peace organisations have focussed on traditional, competitive team sports such as football and basketball in their efforts to improve the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities around the world – sports that are often organised by groups external to these communities.
Holly's research has focussed on informal action sports for development, such as skateboarding and parkour. She has found that action sports offer a number of advantages over traditional sports. Firstly, achievement is based on self-mastery rather than 'winning' and all ages, sexes and skill levels can participate together, without the need for coaches or referees. This builds strong communities and provides opportunities for self-regulation, peer mentoring and the chance to 'learn through play', potentially appealing to a wider group of youth.
Her work has led to an invitation to join the International Advisory Board for Skateistan, a non-profit organisation that uses skateboarding and education to improve the lives of disadvantaged children and youth in Afghanistan, South Africa and Cambodia. It has made skateboarding the most popular sport for girls in Afghanistan with girls making up almost 50% of Skateistan participants there. A more traditional sport may not have been as popular with girls. Her ongoing research with Skateistan includes a focus on the experiences of local and international female staff and volunteers, and the key roles that have played in the successes of this unique NGO.
Her research into young people and action sports for development questions the notion that young people are the victims. Her research reveals youth in conflict and post-disaster zones demonstrating tremendous creativity and resourcefulness, despite the challenging environments in which they live.
Her research on youth in post-earthquakes Christchurch found that, for many, participating in action sports provides opportunities to rebuild social networks and connections. Re-appropriation of damaged areas such as deserted warehouses into temporary skate parks allowed for the reimaging of a post-earthquake city.
Similar benefits were found for those skaters in post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans.
Holly has also been conducting interviews with parkour participants in Gaza over the past six years. Initially, “they told me how the acts of running, leaping, jumping and somersaulting over broken buildings and sand dunes was an important coping mechanism in a world filled with risk and deprivation.” As her research progressed, she discovered how some young Gazan refugees are using the networks and connections within the transnational action sports community to enable upward social mobility and escape.
Her research also questions the notion that youth are apathetic slaves to social media. “In fact some of them are out there creating these highly innovative strategies and using digital media to improve their own and others' lives, so if action sports inspire youth to strive for a better world, I think this is something we need to be taking seriously. More importantly still, there is a need for policy to understand these unique forms of youth agency, creativity and entrepreneurialism that are emerging in some rather unlikely places”.
“In my research I am always searching for new ways to help capture the lived experiences of youth, to create space for their voices, and then to find strategies to translate these findings to help inform policy at both national and international levels”.
The award selection committee recognised that Holly is rare in consistently bringing empirical depth, methodological rigour and theoretical sophistication to her scholarship. “Her work offers sound and realistic policy recommendations for governments and sport governing agencies that advocate and promote sport for development and peace building initiatives.”
Following an Honours degree from the University of Otago, Holly received her PhD from the University of Waikato in 2008. In 2010 Holly was invited to be the Leverhulme Research Fellow at the University of Brighton, United Kingdom and in 2012 received a Fulbright Fellowship spent at Georgetown University in the United States. She has received an Advanced Programme Grant from the International Olympic Committee and in 2015 was awarded a Marsden Fund Fast-Start grant for her project “Sport in the Red Zone: Youth and Social Change in Spaces of War and Disaster.”
The team at Te Kotahi Research Institute has been given a new honour for their success in bringing together Māori providers, researchers and policy-makers to deliver maximum benefit to the communities they work with. It is the Health Research Council’s Te Tohu Rapuora award, and presented as part of the Royal Society Te Apārangi event.
Their commitment and effectiveness in advancing Māori health research and knowledge, and in maximising the uptake of their findings, has just earned them the Health Research Council of New Zealand’s inaugural Te Tohu Rapuora award for Māori Health Research Leadership, Excellence and Contribution.
The Award was presented at the Royal Society Te Aparangi’s 2018 Research Honours Aotearoa in Te Papa, in recognition of the Institute’s significant contribution to Māori health and its collaborative work with iwi, hapū and other Māori health stakeholders.
Health Research Council (HRC) chief executive Professor Kath McPherson acknowledged the Institute’s commitment to Māori wellbeing and, to building the capacity and capability of the Māori health research workforce to sesrve community.
“They’ve helped strengthen Kaupapa Māori methodologies in the Māori health research space by collaborating with community about which research matters most. They’ve worked with researchers across the country, providing workshops, and connecting health researchers with iwi researchers,” she said.
Researcher and senior advisor to Te Kotahi Research Institute, Professor Linda Tuhiwai Smith, says that building capability is a key focus for the Institute.
“Graduate students that work with us get a good grounding in those skills that you can’t teach in an academic context. You can’t teach people how to form strong, ethical relationships that will last a long time, you can’t teach people to problem-solve some of those crises that occur in the real research world: that’s the stuff you learn in doing research.”
She adds that Te Kotahi Institute also works with a range of advisors internationally, to help ensure its research is connected to whānau and hapū but also connected internationally.
“The great thing for me about working in partnership with others is it’s not all about us as academic researchers, it’s about being part of a bigger team, building community relationships and building momentum. We try to leave communities with more research capacity at the end of our projects then they had at the beginning.”
Researchers from the Institute have led and facilitated projects in a number of areas, including homelessness, suicide prevention, sexual violence, historical trauma and the impact of colonisation on whānau.
Alongside their research in the area of healing from trauma and violence, researchers within Te Kotahi have also investigated the wellbeing of tamariki and mokopuna, and worked with whānau who have had babies in Neonatal Intensive Care units and shared their insights with Māori medical students and midwife organisations.
Institute director, Associate Professor Leonie Pihama, highlights that critical to the work undertaken by Te Kotahi is a commitment to Kaupapa Māori and working in ways that support whānau, hapū, iwi and Māori organisations to be self-determining in their research aspirations.
“We are thankful to have strong iwi support through Te Rōpū Manukura which includes representatives from Iwi that are connected to the University of Waikato, and the wide Māori networks that we work alongside. At Te Kotahi we ensure that the research we engage in is defined by the aspirations and questions that come from our communities. That is what drives and inspires all of the researchers that we work with across the country.”
This is echoed by Professor Smith who notes, “We’re not working in a vacuum, we’re working as part of a larger momentum of research with a commitment is to the wellbeing of our whānau, hapū and iwi; the wellbeing of our people, our environment, our institutions and our practices.”